WATCH: Students Are All For ‘Diversity Quotas,’ But Not In Sports

On Thursday, Campus Reform posted a video in which Ophelie Jacobson spoke with students at the University of Florida about “diversity quotas” in hiring and school admissions.

“Do you think diversity should be a factor in hiring decisions and in college admissions processes?” Jacobson asked.

The responses were not unexpected.

“Yeah, absolutely.”

“Probably. They should probably have diversity quotas for, like, college admissions, and a bunch of other things … those are definitely a good thing.”

“I mean, I think it’s like an absolute necessity.”

After setting up a scenario regarding diversity quotas in which a school or workplace should reflect the local minority population percentage, Jacobson asked if the students would support that.

The students were receptive to such an idea.

“That sounds pretty reasonable.”

“Absolutely. There should be more diversity in basically every single field.”

Jacobson then broadened the premise, asking, “What about diversity quotas on sports teams, college sports teams?”

Suddenly, the students’ perspectives changed.

“No, I think that should be skill-based.”

“Same thing. We want to win no matter what you are.”

“Probably not. I feel like it should be based off talent.”

“Sports is different than college. Sports is not the same. I mean, talent is talent is talent is talent.”

“Just let the skill shine, and whoever’s the best player deserves to be on the team.”

Jacobson then showed the students the current offensive lineup for the University of Florida Gators, which consists of mostly African American males and one white male. She also showed that a lineup reflecting the local demographics would feature six white males, two Latino males, two Asian males, and only one black male.

After seeing the side-by-side, one student who had previously shown support for diversity quotas walked his opinion back. “I feel like they’re probably just more skilled players … I guess you could say, like, more skilled people should get into schools, too. … I guess what I said could kind of be applied [to] both.”

“We’d probably be losing … because we recruit, like, based on skill, and if we recruited based on diversity, then we’d probably be worse,” another student said.

Finally, Jacobson asked the students if their opinions had changed regarding quotas once the comparison between sports and academia was made clear.

“If we’re talking about being the best in sports, shouldn’t we also be talking about being the best in the workplace, being the best company, being the best college, the best university regardless of anyone’s race?” she asked.

“Yeah, I think it was a good way to open your eyes and think, like, if you’re recruiting athletes based on their skill level, maybe you should admit students based on their scores and their, like, academic merit more so than diversity,” one student replied.

“Skill always comes first. I don’t necessarily think quotas are the way to go. I know they’re unconstitutional; I know they’re wrong…” another stated despite having earlier seemingly argued for quotas.

Diversity quotas, referred to a different way as affirmative action, have been a controversial subject in academia for many years.

Currently, eight states have banned affirmative action — California, Washington, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.

In other states, however, affirmative action is still being used.

In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, claiming that the school was discriminating against Asian students and capping their numbers in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit alleged in part that the “Harvard plan,” which “promised to treat each applicant as an individual[,] has always been an elaborate mechanism for hiding Harvard’s systematic campaign of racial and ethnic discrimination against certain disfavored classes of applicants.” The lawsuit suggested that the plan was initially used to discriminate against Jewish applicants, and is now used against Asian applicants.

The lawsuit further alleged:

Statistical evidence reveals that Harvard uses “holistic” admissions to disguise the fact that it holds Asian Americans to a far higher standard than other students and essentially forces them to compete against each other for admission. There is nothing high-minded about this campaign of invidious discrimination.

In October 2019, Judge Allison Burroughs of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts ruled in favor of Harvard.

In a 130-page decision, Judge Burroughs stated that Asian applicants “would likely be admitted at a higher rate than white applicants if admissions decisions were made based solely on academic and extracurricular ratings.”

However, Burroughs noted:

The Court finds that Harvard’s admissions program “bears the hallmarks of a narrowly tailored plan” in that “race [is] used in a flexible, nonmechanical way” and considered “as a ‘plus’ factor in the context of individualized consideration of each and every applicant.”

Burroughs continued:

Race conscious admissions will always penalize to some extent the groups that are not being advantaged by the process, but this is justified by the compelling interest in diversity and all the benefits that flow from a diverse college population. Here, any relative burden on Asian Americans (and it is not clear that there is a disproportionate burden) is not enough to warrant a finding that Harvard’s admissions process fails to survive strict scrutiny or to require it to move to an admissions model that foregoes diversity in favor of parity based solely on quantifiable metrics.

In her conclusion, the judge wrote in part: “For purposes of this case, at least for now, ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions. Harvard’s admission program passes constitutional muster in that it satisfies the dictates of strict scrutiny. The students who are admitted to Harvard and choose to attend will live and learn surrounded by all sorts of people, with all sorts of experiences, beliefs and talents. They will have the opportunity to know and understand one another beyond race, as whole individuals with unique histories and experiences.”

Burroughs went on:

It is this, at Harvard and elsewhere that will move us, one day, to the point where we see that race is a fact, but not the defining fact and not the fact that tells us what is important, but we are not there yet. Until we are, race conscious admissions programs that survive strict scrutiny will have an important place in society and help ensure that colleges and universities can offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning, improves scholarship, and encourages mutual respect and understanding.

Students for Fair Admissions appealed the decision to the First Circuit, which ruled in favor of Harvard in November 2020. In June, the Supreme Court “effectively postponed action” on the case, according to CNN, instead asking the “Acting Solicitor General” to “file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States.”

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