“Equity” And The Harvard/UNC Affirmative Action Case

The Supreme Court has just granted cert to the challenges against affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. No way, of course, to predict what the outcome will be, but it’s safe to say that at the moment progressives are nervous and conservatives are hopeful.

My nominee for the most interesting fact in the case: Harvard’s repeated assertion, most recently in its Brief in Opposition to the Supreme’s granting cert, that, although it doesn’t discriminate in favor of or against any group, “If Harvard were to abandon race-conscious admissions, African-American and Hispanic representation would decline by nearly half.”

In other words — actually, pretty much the same words — half the blacks and Hispanics at Harvard were admitted because they were black or Hispanic … unless one thinks saying they would not have been admitted if they were not black or Hispanic says something different.

Also moderately interesting: Harvard announced last April that 18% of its recently admitted class of 2025 is black. Since blacks are 13% of the US population (July 2021), that means they are significantly “overrepresented.” That article did not report what percentage of the new class is white. Adding up all the percentages Harvard did report (Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Hawaiian, etc.), whites make up about 40% of the class, meaning they are drastically “underrepresented” since non-Hispanics whites are 60% of the US population.

Since “equity” as it has come to be understood and demanded by progressives regards any deviation from proportional representation as discrimination, can we expect progressives to demand that the 18% admission rate of blacks be reduced by about 30% and the 40% admission rate of white increased by about 30% to match their share of the population?

Don’t hold your breath. But if anyone should spot such a demand in any of the flood of equity-demanding amicus briefs that will soon start appearing, or any re-thinking of equity itself in those briefs, please let me know.

Say What?