Measuring Discrimination: Racial Preferences at Public Flagship Institutions

From the Executive Summary of Measuring Discrimination Racial Preferences at Public Flagship Institutions:

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects Americans from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. It applies to any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance, including most public and private universities. Title VI states:

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The Department of Education specifically lists both admissions and recruitment as covered activities.

But for almost as long as Title VI has been law, universities have discriminated on the basis of race in order to achieve diversity in their student bodies. This is a trade-off that many policymakers and university administrators have been willing to make.

In this report, we quantify this trade-off at flagship public universities. How large are the harms of racial preferences in admissions? How do they affect students’ chances of admission? We find that the size and effect of racial preferences vary across institutions. At some, however, race weighs very heavily in admissions decisions.

As the Supreme Court considers race in admissions, these data provide an important insight into admissions at public institutions. They show that, at some institutions, admissions are heavily influenced by a student’s race, in defiance of both the equal protection clause and past court decisions that narrowly proscribed the use of race in admissions.

It’s time to end the discriminatory practice of racial preferences.