Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.


Last update07:03:07 AM

Back You are here: Home Affirmative Action Affirmative Action News Education “Cultural Flavor” and University Admissions

“Cultural Flavor” and University Admissions

Some documents recently uncovered at Princeton show that, when awarding a preference on the basis of race or ethnicity, the admissions office wants to make sure that the student being considered has a strong “cultural flavor.” That is, for example, you can’t just be Hispanic, you have to act Hispanic, whatever that means for the admissions office.

Offensive, of course, but unsurprising. After all, the “diversity” rationale for such racial and ethnic discrimination is premised on such stereotyping. That is, there are supposed to be “educational benefits” to exposing students to people with different backgrounds and perspectives; if the recipient of the preference isn’t supplying the different background or perspective, then why give him or her a preference?

Add this to the long list of costs of using racial and ethnic preferences in university admissions: You encourage admissions officers to use stereotypes, and you encourage students to conform to them. Conversely, you discourage people from seeing others and themselves as individuals and as Americans first.

And the other costs of using racial and ethnic preferences? So glad you asked: It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it mismatches African Americans and Latinos with institutions, setting them up for failure; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school and encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership — an untenable legal regime as America becomes an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic society and as individual Americans are themselves more and more likely to be multiracial and multiethnic.

*          *          *

I noted in an earlier email that I appeared on Samantha Bee’s show to discuss felon voting (she’s for, I’m against).  A recent article did a fact-check on that show, in the specific context of Florida, and quotes me:

Bee interviewed one person who opposes automatic restoration of rights for felons generally: Roger Clegg, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. He has called for states to address restoration on a case-by-case basis.

Clegg said that of course some crimes appear less serious than others, but the ones Bee cited are serious for the victims. For example, if someone sells a car that has 200,000 miles on it but has tampered with the odometer to show only 20,000 miles, that is cheating the buyer out of thousands of dollars.

"You can ask someone who makes his or her living as a lobster fisherman if it’s a trivial matter if someone ‘molests’ (the statute’s word) his or her traps," he said.

Here’s some more of what I told the fact-checker in our exchange of emails (she sent me the first one, asking a series of questions): 

Thanks, Amy.  I’m not aware of that data on number of convictions per statute in Florida; I would think the state attorney general would be the best place to start, or perhaps the court system keeps it (if the state supreme court has an administrative office, you could start there).

As for why felons should lose their voting rights:  If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote.  The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison.  After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. 

Or look at it this way:  We don't let everyone vote:  Not children, not noncitizens, not the mentally incompetent, and not felons.  We have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility and commitment to our laws that we require before people are entrusted with a role in the solemn enterprise of self-government.  People who have committed serious crimes against their fellow citizens cannot be entrusted with this right until they earn it back.  If the Florida system is too slow or cumbersome, I think it makes more sense to focus on improving it rather than automatically reenfranchising all felons on the day they walk out of prison. 

Felonies (versus misdemeanors) are by definition serious crimes according to the state legislature.  That said, certainly some felonies are more serious than others, and that’s something that can be considered in deciding how soon to restore a right, along with how recently the crime was committed and if it was part of a series of criminal violations.  You can always find some crimes that appear less serious than others, but actually I’m not that impressed with Ms. Bee’s list.  It’s not absurd to make some drugs illegal, and most states have marijuana in that category; I assume that penalizing odometer tampering is to prevent sales fraud (if you sell someone a car that has 200,000 miles on it and tell them that it has only 20,000 miles on it, you may well be cheating them out of hundreds or thousands of dollars); you can ask someone who makes his or her living as a lobster fisherman if it’s a trivial matter if someone “molests” (the statute’s word) his or her traps.  BTW, as I recall Ms. Bee suggested that this is all just Florida state silliness, but I’m sure there are federal laws about drugs and odometers and I bet there are for lobster traps, too (see ).

Another BTW:  You are right to be curious about that conviction data.  Most people in state prison are there for crimes that just about everyone would consider serious.   

As for other information, here’s a paper I coauthored (see especially pages 7 on, since most of pages 1-6 is on Congress’s power in this area):

Thanks for reaching out, and feel free to call me …. 

*          *          *

Finally, the Center for Equal Opportunity has frequently teamed up over the years with the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal in North Carolina, so I wanted to acknowledge a couple of recent columns by George Leef, who does great work there — one on Second Amendment issues and one on academic freedom.  Putting the two together, I think George should conclude that we need to do a better job arming the few conservative professors we have!