So I am reading the slip opinion of for Fisher v. Texas, the University of Texas affirmative action case. It of course quotes at length from Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court affirmative action case concerning the University of Michigan's law school. It is possible that I am just being cranky, but one of the weirder facets of both this opinion and Grutter is all of this talk about building a diverse "leadership class" and that it is apparently necessary for it a)to be diverse, so as to have "legitimacy" and b) that even the individuals within it who are not "diverse" to have some threshhold exposure to diversity to be better leaders.
This conception of students at selective colleges and universities as members of some elite class of Platonic philosopher guardians is nice, and I suppose I should be flattered that I have been presumably included in the group. Except that neither of the selective-ish institutions that I have attended really seemed to be in the business of fostering anything close to a Platonic philosopher guardian class. There were a small number of hyper-networked over-achievers hellbent on cracking into the Washington power structure, true. But there was also my friend who wound up living in a van for awhile, and the two acquaintances who moved to San Francisco to start a band. I'm sure there are also plenty of future stay at home moms, and others who make piles of money doing boring-to-me things with numbers and chemicals that I don't understand, who are not really leading anything in a broad sense. This is not meant as a slur against any of these people; the numbers and chemicals guys are actually creating jobs and moving the economy forward. The stay-at-home mothers raise great kids, etc. By not heating up an apartment in winter, the van guy helps solve our nation's fossil fuels problem.
But the point is that even the most exquisitely sensitive admissions office is going to pick lots of people who are not destined for philosopher guardianness. That is probably as it should be. There are not that many jobs at The New Republic. Hyper-networked aspirant philosopher guardians are kind of annoying, and they should be discouraged from these pursuits as much as possible. All of this fretting over getting the perfectly diverse mix of these philosopher guardian class right seems kind of twee and annoying. More institutional humility from these schools and their admissions officers would be nice.
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