Diversity By Proxy

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The Supreme Court’s long-awaited affirmative action rulings make one thing clear: colleges and universities have a compelling interest in campus diversity. Many schools in states where race-based admissions programs are illegal know that, too. So to get around the race factor, they’ve charted their own course to diversity.

They call it socio-economic, or class-based, preference. Rather than targeting blacks or Hispanics, be they rich or poor, these schools seek the underprivileged; students of all races who have survived and thrived despite broken homes and failing schools, but whose transcripts don’t quite measure up to. Proponents say this enriches the academic environment and skirts legal landmines. Others aren’t so sure. Evaluating class in the classroom.


Tim Washburn, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Services at the University of Washington

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation and author of: “All Together Now: Creating Middle Class Schools through Public School Choice”