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Is There a “Workable” Race‐Neutral Alternative to Affirmative Action in College Admissions?

Mark Long ()

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2015, vol. 34, issue 1, 162-183

Abstract: The 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case clarified when and how it is legally permissible for universities to use an applicant's race or ethnicity in its admissions decisions. The court concluded that such use is permissible when “no workable race‐neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” This paper shows that replacing traditional affirmative action with a system that uses an applicant's predicted likelihood of being an underrepresented racial minority as a proxy for the applicant's actual minority status can yield an admitted class that has a lower predicted grade point average and likelihood of graduating than the class that would have been admitted using traditional affirmative action. This result suggests that race‐neutral alternatives may not be “workable” from the university's perspective.

Date: 2015
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