Race-Neutral College Admissions Ignore the Importance of Diversity

One year after Fisher V. University of Texas, is Edward Blum more than a professional race-baiter?



In The New York Times last week, there was a piece about college admissions and diversity in the wake of the Fisher v. University of Texas case, and the lawyer, Edward Blum who made the whole thing possible.

Blum, a glorified ambulance chaser, represented Abigail Fisher in the case in 2008 after she was rejected from the University of Texas as a potential member of the incoming freshman class. He sought her out to use her story as the case to push the issue to the high court.

Seeking people out is what Blum does as a professional race baiter.

For background’s sake, Fisher was a decent, though average, student with an 1180 on her SATs and a 3.59 GPA. Ninety-two percent of UT’s freshman class that year graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. Evidence suggests that Fisher fell short of the academic standard the university chose to impose, not a racial or ethnic one.

This does not stop Edward Blum from pursuing his crusade against what he feels is the unfair bias of affirmative action. He’s got a series of websites that posit that some students may be denied admissions to a school of their choice “because you’re the wrong race.” Here, he stokes the dormant insecurity of fleeting White Privilege in an increasingly non-White world. (Interestingly, his sites feature images of students who appear to be Asian American.)

The irony is that Blum uses inequality and injustice as a fixture in his own arguments, while refusing to see the systemic injustices that often bar people of color from the collegiate experience. To be clear, Blum is more of a pot-stirrer than a drum major for equality. He’s a grownup who enables the willful entitlements of children who couldn’t have their way as a means to grow his own reputation and raise his profile as an avant-garde legal entrepreneur.

These cases that he tries manipulate feelings of privilege and attempt to embolden students about their own; that’s what these cases are about, really. Privilege. The idea that a student was denied entry into an academic program because someone else — someone of color, mind you — took their spot. That those students of color couldn’t possibly have earned acceptance on their own merit, that the spot “belonged” to a white applicant and was taken away. Blum stokes that fire, the base levels of our tribal thinking, and makes them national headline cases that threaten to undo structures designed to level the playing field — a field that even with affirmative action requires a lot more turf.

Sadly, the students who come aboard Blum’s delusional race-neutral starship are going to have their names forever associated with a pushback against diversity or equality, while Blum finds another host to on which to feed. Whatever the factor race or ethnicity plays in the admissions tally, the value of a diverse classroom experience is immeasurable. I wonder how diverse Blum’s own classrooms were.

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