Be sure to receive our expert commentary on racial preferences and other issues. Sign up for the City Journal newsletter today.

Read more of our affirmative action and preferences coverage here.

Just hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision in the Students for Fair Admissions cases, the president of NYU, from whose law school I recently graduated, sent out an email to alumni, announcing on behalf of the institution that June 29—the date that race-based admissions schemes were found to violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all—was “a difficult day,” because “diversity is a core part of our identity.” Nonetheless, NYU would find a way to stand defiant: “we will not forsake our commitment to building and sustaining a scholarly community that is diverse and inclusive, a community to which you all rightly belong.”

Peer institutions sent similar messages to their alumni and posted on social media. Georgetown, though “deeply disappointed,” vowed that it would continue “ensuring that the full range of voices, histories and experiences are included in our academic community.” Yale “emphatically” affirmed that it remained “fully committed to creating an inclusive, diverse, and excellent educational environment” and “to ensuring that our university is home to a diverse range of ideas, expertise, and experiences.” The University of Southern California’s statement stood out for its flair. The Court’s decision was “very disappointing,” but USC would carry on providing an atmosphere “where differing backgrounds and points of view are embraced, where ideas collide, beliefs are challenged, and innovation thrives.”

Paragraph break, for flourish: “We will not go backward.”

Apparently our best and brightest missed the glaring contradiction at the heart of their messages. While lamenting a decision that they say strikes at their ability to foster, for instance, “a diverse range of ideas, expertise, and experiences,” they all take the same institutional position on a highly contested issue. Do USC students who agree with the Court’s decision—who would, if the student body reflected national opinion on the issue, constitute at least half the student population—feel that their university welcomes a point of view that their administration equates with backwardness? Does Yale advance its mission of hosting a “diverse range of ideas” by announcing that it considers a 6-3 majority’s decision beyond the pale?

Speaking as an alumnus of NYU Law, I find the notion that the school is motivated by a concern for openness to all ideas—let alone mainstream right-of-center ideas—laughable. Conservatives like me were tolerated at best, and frequently made to feel precisely as though our school was a community to which we did not “rightly belong.” Our (tiny) Federalist Society chapter frequently had its posters defaced and received nasty messages on school listservs. And good luck if you worked up the courage to deviate publicly from your classmates’ orthodoxy on topics like affirmative action. We didn’t feel “unsafe,” of course. But fellow students, professors, and administrators, issuing statements like the ones quoted above, made it clear that NYU belonged to those holding conventional progressive opinions. We handful of conservatives and libertarians attending were graciously allowed to tag along.

Now, with the Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions, these top universities have supposedly rediscovered the importance of welcoming a diversity of views. These coordinated and cliché-ridden statements should be recognized for what they are: hollow. If our colleges and universities, armed to the teeth with DEI professionals whose job is to institutionalize left-wing views, care this much about making all students feel like they belong, then the Court’s rejection of race-conscious admissions is the least of their problems.

They could begin to improve the situation by making admissions decisions based on what an individual is likely to contribute to campus beyond his immutable characteristics. And surely it wouldn’t be too much to ask these schools not to tip their hands by expressing institutional disappointment in a ruling from the nation’s highest court.

Photo: farakos/iStock


City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank. Are you interested in supporting the magazine? As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations in support of MI and City Journal are fully tax-deductible as provided by law (EIN #13-2912529).

Further Reading

Up Next