As I mentioned below, Professor Amy L. Wax of the U. of Pennsylvania Law School is being virulently denounced for mentioning the effects of affirmative action at Penn. Now, Penn’s Dean Ted Ruger is striking back:
Specifically, Professor Wax stated that, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half.” Moreover, she claimed that the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, a prestigious law journal whose editorial board is composed of Penn Law students, has a racial diversity mandate, suggesting that black students on Law Review had not earned their place. Speaking about black law students at Penn and peer schools, she went on to say that “some of them shouldn’t” even go to college.I discussed the GPA dispute below, but let’s consider whether Penn’s law review has a “racial diversity mandate” or not.
It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate. Rather, its editors are selected based on a competitive process.
Education Realist pointed out on Twitter this 1995 New York Times article about the Penn Law Review:
Law Review Masks Diversity in a New Admission SystemWhat are the real numbers? They’re a secret.
By LISA ANDERSON
In the competitive world of law school, where students scramble to distinguish themselves from their peers, admission to a law review is an honor that can enhance a career.
Now the editorial board of a prestigious law review has changed its selection process, making it harder to determine who is admitted on merit alone and who is selected partly on the basis of race or ethnicity.
The change, said members of the editorial board of The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, is an effort to maintain the publication’s affirmative action program by insuring that qualified students — most of them white — are not displaced by black and Hispanic students.
“We were actually displacing candidates with affirmative action candidates,” said Katherine Kelly, the review’s editor in chief. The policy, Ms. Kelly said, upset some law students who failed to win admission to the law review and stigmatized the black or Hispanic students who did. …
Nine of the nation’s top 20 law school reviews, including those at Cornell, Harvard, New York University and the University of Virginia, have affirmative action policies or diversity plans, according to documents made public last February at a conference of the publications’ editors at Stanford Law School.
At the University of Pennsylvania, as at most other selective law schools, the majority of first-year students compete for law review. …
The key to the new system seems to be keeping secret newly established numerical goals, so that law students will not be able to determine who is an affirmative action appointment.
Later this month, when the law review chooses its new associate editors, it will first select the number of students needed to run the publication — but that number will be kept secret. After those members have been chosen, the review will accept an unstipulated number of affirmative action candidates on the basis of their written test scores. …
Although the old policy covered Asian-American students, she said the new policy would apply only to groups that the law school considers historically underrepresented — black and Hispanic students.
“It really didn’t make any difference at all in terms of the numbers,” said Laura Boschken, one of the review’s five executive editors, referring to the new policy. “It was more a perception. We just wanted to make things appear fair.”
What could appear more fair?