A small sign of panic at Harvard over pending SCOTUS affirmative action case?
Renu Mukherjee of City Journal noticed what Sherlock Holmes would call a dog at Harvard that didn't bark. In this is the clue derived from the absence of what ordinarily is expected to happen looks like a sign of panic over the arguments being heard by the Supreme Court in the case brought against the nation's oldest university by Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in the case attacking racial preferences in admissions to Harvard College. SFFA argues that Harvard's policies limit the number of Asians admitted, allegedly over personal characteristics, as opposed to academic qualifications like grades and test scores.
Here is the Crimson canine that didn't bark:
Every year since 2013, usually during the first week of September, the Harvard Crimson publishes survey results profiling the incoming freshman class, including their political and social orientations. These feature-length reports have consistently shown that a dominant majority of Harvard's incoming students identify as politically and socially progressive, with ever-fewer students identifying as conservative. This year, however, the Crimson didn't publish the feature and didn't reply to my inquiry about whether they would do so.
Why would the Crimson want to stop proving data on the characteristics pof Harvard's freshman class when the SCOTUS is deliberating the case?
[T]he Supreme Court will reexamine a half-century-old justification for race-based university admissions — namely, that racial diversity generates viewpoint diversity on campus and contributes to the lively exchange of ideas. Past results of Harvard's freshman surveys, which detail growing racial diversity but diminishing viewpoint diversity, discredit this justification. Of the Class of 2025, for example, only 1.4 percent identify as very conservative; only 7.2 percent identify as somewhat conservative; and only 18.6 percent identify as moderate. By contrast, 72.4 percent of freshmen identify as predominantly liberal. Yet this class is the "the most diverse class in the history of Harvard," according to William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid.
The fact that engineering racial diversity has not led to viewpoint diversity turns out to contradict a key assumption Justice Lewis Powell made in the Bakke case that first okayed racial preferences in college admissions, reinforced in the subsequent Grutter case::
In his landmark opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Lewis Powell argued that the use of race as a factor in college admissions ought to be permitted because it would (presumably) lead to greater student-body diversity. This was a laudable goal for a university, he said, for it would allow it to achieve "a robust exchange of ideas."
Sandra Day O'Connor recapitulated Powell's argument in her opinion for the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, upholding the University of Michigan Law School's policy of intentionally favoring applicants from certain racial groups over others with similar qualifications. O'Connor justified the decision largely by appealing to its supposed policy implications. She cited several amicus briefs submitted by left-wing academics, corporations, and professional organizations, all of which alleged countless studies showing that racial and ethnic diversity guaranteed greater viewpoint diversity and, in turn, increased tolerance of differing opinions.
Evidently, the allegation that racial diversity yields viewpoint diversity is not true now, if it ever had been. Thus, the argument supporting racial preferences is built on sand, and the left-leaning Harvard Crimson presumably understands this.
Read the whole thing, including the explanation of the amicus brief filed by the Legal Insurrection Foundation, affiliated with the great website Legal Insurrection.
Hat tip: David Kahn.