If “Diversity” Trumps Rights, Why Not Choice?

I’ve argued a number of times (most recently here) that if “diversity” is deemed important enough to trump the right of individuals to be from racial discrimination, then it is important enough to trespass upon the freedom of choice of its beneficiaries to enroll in all of their preferred classes or live in their preferred dorms or even to attend the school of their choice — in short, that it is not unreasonable to require those given preferential admission and other special treatment because of the “diversity” they ostensibly provide actually to provide that “diversity” once they arrive on campus.

Now comes Archie L. Alston II, a second year student at the University of Virginia law school, who, though he would in all liklihood disagree with my formulation, has written a Student Note for the Virginia Law Review that in many ways is remarkably similar.

Rather than having an affirmative action program that focuses on creating a well-educated African-American lawyer, Alston envisions a program that creates a well educated African-American leader….

“Diversity is good, but it alone does not help the community come up. That is why affirmative action has not changed the community,” he said. “Right now it is helping individuals.”

Alston’s proposed reform of affirmative action would create a mandatory public service obligation to those African-American students who would like to be considered under more lenient standards of admission at elite law schools. The program would be completely voluntary, and law schools would still have flexibility in accepting students who opted-out of the program.

I don’t like preferences based on race, but if we’re going to have them it makes sense to require special services from those who are given special treatment.

Say What? (1)

  1. meep April 9, 2006 at 7:28 am | | Reply

    This is reasonable if people are allowed to opt out of being given affirmative action consideration. That’s the insidious effect of these things — if you’re a person visibly part of a favored group in admissions, people are going to assume you got a leg-up to get in. This is true whether you’re a black student at University of Michigan, a white blueblood trustfunder at Harvard, or a woman in an engineering program.

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