Admissions (Standards) Impossible?

The University of Michigan awaits word from the Supreme Court regarding the status of affirmative action at its law school. Meanwhile, athletic scandals at St. Bonaventure, Fresno State and the University of Georgia have disgraced those institutions.

They are connected. It’s all about admissions and standards.

In the best of all higher education worlds, here is what would happen.

Starting tomorrow race will not be a factor in admissions. For example, to accord a designated race more weight than a perfect SAT score, as UM has been doing, is outrageous. It’s as unfair to all as it is insulting to black Americans.

Starting tomorrow student athletes will have to be student-athletes. There will be no more athletic scholarships for those who wouldn’t otherwise qualify as student-students. The athletic loophole — almost exclusively for the revenue sports of basketball and football — is what causes schools, such as Georgia, to recruit academic misfits and then offer them sham courses taught by coaches.

This is what causes schools, such as St. Bonaventure, to bring in recruits with credited courses in welding on their transcripts. The SBU president, who was just jettisoned, even signed off on that one. This is also what causes schools, such as Fresno State, to hold their nose, open their wallet and hire the likes of Jerry Tarkanian.

And starting tomorrow “legacies” and “development applicants” will need the grades to go with the genealogy and philanthropy. For example, Duke University acknowledges that it has accepted 100 to 125 underqualified students annually due to family wealth or connections. It’s hardly unique.

In their heart of hearts, the scions of fortune and clout just might want to earn their way too. If not, too bad. If standards are to be color-blind, they can also be class-blind.

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