Should Harvard University be forced to modify its policies on diversity and race and, if so, which group among all the Harvard applicants should have a say in those changes?
That question will be considered by the Harvard Corporation, a board made up of the chief executives of Harvard’s corporations, which is expected to vote on a revision to the school’s admissions policies sometime in the next few weeks.
The Harvard Corporation has already delayed the vote on several occasions after members of a political science and law class this semester presented a presentation with the intent of shutting down the discriminatory policies that had been in place since 1986. The highly selective and elite private university has always maintained that its admissions process is merit-based.
The chapter of students at Harvard that has led the charge to dismantle affirmative action programs has been called Students for Fair Admissions, and has gained considerable traction throughout the university in recent months. The 20 members of SFFA lead a coalition of several other groups — including the Harvard Campaign Committee, which raises money for the university, and a group of students who were part of Harvard’s Parent’s Weekend who announced their own organization to raise awareness about campus inequality last fall.
It is a huge step that the Corporation is taking, but they must be sure that they are asking the right questions. How has the process changed for admission seekers since 1986? Has it changed beyond that? And what kind of changes could be a possibility?
The need for affirmative action programs was demonstrated throughout the country last month by the devastating state court ruling against the University of Texas at Austin. In a great many other states, as well, affirmative action programs are being challenged as unfair.
With new “evidence” coming out every day, time is running out for Harvard to address these controversies. One has to wonder what else might be uncovered, and what the Corporation might be left with if they vote to support eliminating an important piece of affirmative action.
Should the Corporation vote to support these changes?