Rick Sander Wants to Retain Race-Neutrality in California


Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. (Dreamstime)

Over the years, one of the very few academics who has stood up for the idea of racial neutrality is UCLA law professor Rick Sander. He came to the conclusion that racial preferences in college admissions did no good and a fair amount of harm. Those conclusions, of course, were contrary to what the education and legal establishment wanted to hear. The State Bar of California has battled to prevent Sander from obtaining data that they fear would strengthen his case.

In today’s Martin Center article, Sander weighs in on the effort in his state to repeal Proposition 209, the 1996 law requiring that the state give no preferences based on race. He explains, “A few weeks ago, in a move perfectly in sync with the racial politics of 2020, the California legislature put a referendum on the November ballot that invites voters to repeal Prop 209. The new Proposition 16 would allow the state government, and state officials, to take racial and gender “diversity” into account in their decisionmaking. In other words, it would allow officials in state government and state universities to freely discriminate on the basis of race or gender.”

Oh, but don’t we need to take race into account in order to achieve “diversity” and end “institutional racism”?

No, Sander argues. Prop 209 actually had very beneficial effects. He writes, “There was an immediate jump in the rate at which highly qualified African American and Latino students admitted to the UCs — particularly at Berkeley and UCLA — accepted offers of admission. The obvious implication, consistent with careful research, is that minority students were very attracted by the idea of attending a school where there would be no taint of preferences on their presence and, eventually, on their degrees.”

The end of racial preferences was an excellent move, but higher-education administrators would never admit that. Allowing spontaneous order to work gets in the way of their instincts for social engineering. In this race-obsessed year, they want to return to the days when they could use racial quotas to achieve their vision of balance.

Sander concludes, “We are thus faced with a fall election that will test, more severely than ever, whether the common sense of voters, and their fundamental aversion to racial discrimination, will beat back the collective efforts of California elites to make a mindless ‘diversity’ mantra drown out the clear story told by the facts.”

I will add that the book Sander wrote with Stuart Taylor, Jr., Mismatch is essential reading if you want to understand this debate.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.





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