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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Race deserves no place in university admissions

Diversity is a recurring theme at UW-Madison and, as always, the discussion turns to race. Administrators who focus on the color of students' skin continue to find a lack of diversity, which is a nice way of saying we are too white. Responding to this crisis of superficial uniformity has been a favorite task of chancellors, committees, and columnists for decades. While the overwhelming sea of good intentions is aimed at increasing diversity, I would argue that there are almost no students who pay any attention to race.

To their credit, students at Madison are relatively colorblind, choosing to judge their classmates on their character, effort and achievement, rather than on the color of their skin. While we do see acts of intolerance and ignorance on a daily basis, in general it is much harder to be racist than to be a minority on campus.

While Madison is overflowing with diversity of background, socioeconomic status, experience and opinion, promoters of diversity seem to only be satisfied with the type of diversity they can see. To achieve a racially balanced student population, the committees and professional administrators of our school continue to insist ethnicity plays a major roll in our admission process. The refusal to accept the type of diversity which matters has a detrimental effect on an otherwise open and unbiased campus. It also sends a negative message to minority students throughout the state.

When we set racial goals for our student body, as seen in programs like Plan 2008, it sends a strong message to minority students: It says ""We don't believe you can succeed on your own."" By admitting students based on race, we tell them that their achievements and hard work are not enough. Instead of treating blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans like equals, we give them a hand out by helping them overcome their supposed handicap. We do not want to help solely minorities, we want to help everyone who has not had equal access to opportunity. While it is true poorer students have a harder time getting an upper-level education, being poor is not an ethnicity.

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The effect of racial quotas and goals on white students is extremely complex. Race-based efforts provide a mental obstacle for Caucasian students to overcome. While the overwhelming majority of students actively seek out and love interacting with diverse and new people, race-based admissions can bring up an unsettling idea of how that minority student sitting next to you in lecture got into UW. However, without racial considerations in our admissions process, there would be no reason to suspect something different about that minority student from class because each person of color would have an equally unique background compared to a white student. But by focusing on the color of their skin rather than just their achievements, the university administration implants the idea that there might be something different about minority students: They might not be as smart.

If all admission criteria and population goals were aimed at getting the best and the brightest students to come to Madison, there would be no reason to believe a student got in because of their race. It makes sense to expect minority students to drop out at higher rates than white students now, since some minority students were not admitted solely on their ability to succeed at a Big Ten school.

We need to show that we believe race has nothing to do with a student's potential. To do this, we must invest heavily to make sure all Wisconsin residents have the same access to quality education and resources and then we must forget about race. Trying to artificially diversify our campus through racial goals does nothing to help the poor and undereducated but, instead, perpetuates racial stereotypes and indoctrinates minorities into a system of handouts.

Andrew Carpenter is a senior majoring in communication arts and psychology. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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