Race-neutral admissions policies can help further a more multifaceted diversity in America's college campuses.

I am the daughter and granddaughter of Indian immigrants. In 1967, my father and grandmother came to the United States from Jhansi, a city in the north of India, to reunite with my grandfather who had arrived three years prior.

This was around the time the Civil Rights Act was passed : my grandfather attended graduate school for psychology at DePaul University on a scholarship, with less than $100 in his pocket.

In 1995, my mother came to this country, having just married my dad in an arranged marriage. Up to that point, she had never set foot on a plane, let alone left India; all she ever knew was in Kanpur.

The story of how my family arrived and found its way in America is a unique one that exemplifies diversity.

But based on revelations from Students for Fair Admissions' challenge to Harvard and the University of North Carolina's race-conscious admission policies, cases that have oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week, it seems neither of these schools would agree with me.

THEY, along with many other elite universities in the U.S., seems to have decided that because Asian American enrollment at their schools exceeds the Asian American share of the population, stories like mine don't count as ''diverse''.

Instead, the stories of ''underrepresented'' racial minorities tend to count more as the diversity in which universities have a compelling interest., the rationale for racial preferences today.

Racial preferences in college admissions are wrong, and not just because they make it more difficult for certain racial groups over others to gain admission. Race-conscious admission programs are wrong also because they promote the view that certain types of diversity matter more than others., that certain stories are more worth telling than others.

THIS is obviously misguided. On a university campus, true diversity should encompass all aspects of a student's personhood that could contribute to the educational environment, like whether the student is a spelling bee champion, grew up in a single-parent household, or worked in a New York pizza parlor.

Indeed, this is what Justice Lewis Powell had in mind when he established the diversity rationale behind the race-conscious admissions in 1978's Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

FORTUNATELY, the court is expected to overturn racial preferences. In the absence of court-protected and delineated definitions of diversity, will Harvard and U.N.C. remain diverse? How can we go about furthering a more multifaceted diversity on America's college campuses? 

The answer is a simple one : race-neutral alternatives.

The court has previously recognized that race-neutral alternatives have the potential of promoting diversity in higher education.

Indeed, in 2003's Grutter v. Bollinger, the court noted that a university could only use race-conscious admissions to promote student body diversity after it had proved that race-neutral alternatives don't work.

If a university ignored this step, then it'd be in violation of federal law and the constitution.

The Essay continues. The World Students Society thanks author Renu Mukherjee, a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute, for her opinion.


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