Harvard Admissions and Racism

David Phillips, Johns Hopkins University Vice Provost, wrote a letter to the editors of The Wall Street Journal, published in the outlet’s Friday Letters section. In it he responded to a WSJ week-prior op-ed opining on Harvard’s still-racially oriented admissions technique, now transferred to Harvard’s applicant essay.

In furtherance of his defense, he made this astonishing claim:

In crafting a question that invites students to discuss their background and life experiences, including the effect of a host of different factors such as race, religion, or community, we explicitly tell prospective students in our online application and checklist section that Hopkins will consider applicants only based on their experiences as individuals, not based on information about their race. This is in strict compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action, to which we explicitly refer.

No, Phillips’ question is in strict disobedience of the Court’s decision. If Harvard were considering applicants not based on information about their race, Harvard’s application essay question would not ask prospects about their racial experience. This is just another cynical attempt to consider race by hiding it inside a host of different factors, just as Harvard did with the admission policies which the Court struck.

If Phillips truly believes his claim, it would be a demonstration of just how deeply steeped he is in his racism, given a deep-seated obliviousness. If he does not, his claim demonstrates breathtaking dishonesty.

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