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  • Reverend James Squire

Part 1 Affirmative Action Overturned and Other Issues from the Supreme court

Part 1

First, let’s look at some of the decisions of the Court today as context for their decision to stop permitting Affirmative Action in Higher Education. A person in Colorado won a case she argued that she shouldn’t have to include gay people on a wedding website. Gay people are supposed to be in a “protected class,” but no law has been passed to make that part of the protection under the law. Gay people are afraid that this case in Colorado is about far more than websites, but may spill over to forbidding gay marriage or even racial intermarriage. A duty ethic says all must have access. The Court’s interpretation was that it was a free speech issue. Many experts say that was wrong. The Court also did not allow Biden to forgive student loans. The government concluded that large companies/organizations cannot require masks or vaccinations even though they have been proven to be effective. Any legislation such as that must be approved by Congress.

The above underscores how much damage Trump has done to our country when he was able, thanks to Mitch McConnell, to appoint three conservative Supreme court judges. They have created an imbalance that will be there for many years to come.

I will try to stay away from statistics as they seem plentiful in this discussion as I reflect on the overturning of Affirmative Action and other Court decision. Most historians such as Heather Cox Richardson, who is one of my favorites, focus on historical facts and context. I will come at this recent decision from personal experience as well as starting with how this decision came to be, unintended consequences, and other issues such as human nature and psychology of groups.

We will start with lying as something that most agree is wrong and is at the heart of the issues. We begin with a different form of the “Big Lie” and its unintended or intended consequences. All three justices appointed by Trump and supported by Republicans, stated not implied, that they supported the views of the Court regarding precedent. It is part of the public interview record that they lied about this. They have not accepted precedent and honoring it in public coverage that “has stood the test of time.” So, from the beginning framing of their voting, their opinions are based in a lie. That lie has framed their decisions. Roberts’ statements not to attack the Court for the recent rulings never was done before and showed his hand. There is still no movement on accountability for ethical lapses among three members of the court. The decisions or the Court are not accepted by the public.

Then there is the issue of legacy at institutions that puts applicants in a special class for admissions. Once again, the lie comes forward. Brett Kavenaugh said that he got into Yale Law because “he busted his butt in undergraduate school.” He failed to mention that his grandfather, Everett Kavanaugh was a member of Yale Class of 1928. He was a legacy. Yale indicated in a report in 2011 that 25% of their students are legacies.

Legacies are tricky. It is ironic that they came into existence really for usually private institutions, to receive alumni funds so students can have a great education. (Let me clarify here that the press loves to describe EA as an elite school. We are an Independent School that belongs to the National Association of Episcopal Schools. Moms for Liberty would not be welcomed.) It is easy to see legacy as a form of affirmative action. So, are sports, grades, zip codes, development possibilities of people who have financial resources, and other items. I know because this was my life. I have been behind the scenes and in front of the scenes of this for 38 years. I have listened to college admissions counselors address my parents as they make the pitch, that they are looking for well-rounded students. That is a lie.

When I would call an admissions office and ask why Johnny or Jane didn’t get in as they were our best, the reply was usually they didn’t have the grades or board scores. What about that well rounded student? There really was no way to measure that. You may remember that the College Board wanted to produce a document that rated the character of students. It didn’t get anywhere. The hardest thing for my student athletes who were excited about getting or not getting admission or one who was admitted to a university when he was a freshman at EA, is that it is really not only a celebration of their skills but also it is that they have exactly what coaches need on a team now and in the years to come.

I had a benefactor of a university talk to me about a student who was recruited for a team when she was an eighth-grade student. He asked the coach if he wasn’t taking a big risk not knowing how the freshman would develop over four years of high school. The coach said that he wasn’t worried because “she could start for him right now.” I have friends in the college coaching ranks who are leaving coaching because their skill set is developing student athletes over a four years period including that they remain students. The NCAA business portal system ruined that. College is a way station for the pros. It has little to do with being a student. Let’s go back to admitting students for a required four years and have a separate program for those seeking credibility to enter the pro ranks. It would be a two-tier system. It would be authentic!

I had a terrific scholar/athlete who was highly recruited by an Ivy League School. He called me when I was away on Spring Break as he was devastated that he didn’t get in. I called the coach who was calling me on a regular basis to keep this kid on his list. I didn’t need him was the coach’s response. There is humor here because when I was doing his recommendation, I constantly misspelled his name which was Chris as Christ. I caught it when I proof read it. But I don’t think Christ would have gotten in because he would not meet their stated need.

My oldest son was deferred from Princeton in early admission. He had all the tickets. He received regular admission, but faculty and admissions people from EA were scratching their heads. How could this early admission not work? He graduated Phi Betta Kappa and became the conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and took the orchestra on its first in a long while European Tour. He joked about having to get seats on planes for the bass fiddles. He became a Fulbright Scholar. Vicki and I became co-presidents of the Philly Chapter of the Princeton Parents Club so we got an inside look at how things work. Smaller universities have the time to get exactly what they need. The Head of Admissions at Princeton knew us by name when we attended an orchestra performance.

I mention this above matter to demonstrate how “tone deaf” Chief Justice Roberts solution to the racial diversity issue is that the students of color could write essays demonstrating “how much they have overcome.” It would be subjective, but they could make their case there. Lie! Large universities and colleges don’t have enough people to read essays. In fact, they have been discouraged because they can be made up. Hasn’t he heard of AI? The point is race and ethnicity can’t be changed so universities and colleges will have to continue to find a way to achieve diversity in their student body. “Give me a break!” I will write about the “biggest lie” in the next blog.

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