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A modest proposal regarding college admissions




It’s the colleges, stupid. Frederick Hess writes:

 [T]he default response has been to paint the scandal as a sweeping indictment of American society. As one Washington Post op-ed put it, “The college admissions scandal isn’t fair. Nothing about our social mobility system is.” Affirmative action advocates insisted that a susceptibility to rampant fraud somehow argues for giving admissions offices more discretion to admit students on the basis of race.

I’m afraid all these hot takes leave me cold. For one thing, we’re not talking about colleges being done in by Mission Impossible-style, uber-sophisticated deceit. We’re talking about the failure of admissions offices to detect rampant, outrageous, clown car corruption that spanned nearly a decade. This is about officials failing to perform even minimal diligence as athletic coaches sold slots, and failing to notice as applicants fabricated athletic profiles or had their faces photo-shopped onto the bodies of actual athletes.

This all unfolded at institutions whose leaders never tire of lecturing the rest of America about their moral shortcomings (at least when they’re not explaining why taxpayers should eagerly funnel vast new sums into higher education). These same paragons, of course, can’t seem to stop themselves from offering “legacy admissions” or selling seats to donors willing to pledge a building or a cool couple million for the campus capital campaign. Nobody is forcing colleges to sell access; that’s all on them. […]

If admissions offices cannot detect even rudimentary corruption and institutions can’t stop themselves from selling access, it raises the question of whether we can trust them to make subtle distinctions when it comes to sensitive issues like race and merit.

[Frederick M. Hess, “A Modest Proposal Regarding College Admissions,” American Enterprise Institute, March 15]


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