College diversity isn’t just about making amends for the past
While I applaud the revealing of the terrible impact of past racism and the eugenics movement on higher education, I disagree with the point, “The pursuit of diversity now can help universities make amends” (“Diversity in higher ed is about making amends for past sins,” Ideas, Aug. 12). The pursuit of diversity is needed not so much to amend for the past but to counteract current discrimination.
Current discrimination is contained in the tests that universities rely on to determine admissions. Test scores do not and cannot indicate who has the qualifications to make contributions to the well-being of society. The testing environment itself has no relevance to such qualifications. That environment requires each test-taker (1) to work alone and (2) to find the right answers (3) to isolated questions.
In the real world, people rarely accomplish anything without collaboration with others. Complex problems usually have more than one right answer. Real problems affect other problems, so an answer to one may impact the answers to others.
Diversity in university admissions is vital because, regardless of test scores, those who have succeeded in spite of discrimination may have more socially beneficial skills than those with less to overcome.
John L. Hodge
John L. Hodge. a retired health care lawyer and a former professor of philosophy at California State University East Bay, writes frequently about democracy, ethics, and human rights.