Today, Friday, July 28, 1995, Richard Grayson has a letter in the New York Times, "We Won't Get Far Without Affirmative Action":
We Won't Get Far Without Affirmative Action
To the Editor:
I agree with Andrew Sullivan's contention in "Let Affirmative Action Die" (Op-Ed, July 23) that the huge discrepancy between the scores of black and white candidates for admission to law schools is a result of the neglect of public education in the inner cities and not due to systemic racism on the part of law schools.
Mr. Sullivan is undoubtedly correct that the fundamental solution lies in tackling serious social problems, not in affirmative action policies. But even in a time of liberal ascendancy, such solutions would take years to produce results.
What are those who have been hobbled by what Jonathan Kozol has called "savage inequalities" supposed to do in the meantime?
Mr. Sullivan cites the University of Texas Law School, which would have admitted only nine black applicants to its 1992 entering class of 500 students on test scores alone. The other black students Texas admitted got in under a standard different from that of white applicants.
Yet I'm willing to bet that nearly all of the black students admitted in 1992 graduated three years later, and most will go on to successful legal careers. I don't see how locking out such students while we wait for the day when social and educational inequities are abolished will benefit a racially diverse society.
As a white male who last year graduated from a state law school that has made a serious effort to attract minority students, I feel I have benefited from affirmative action. Having a substantial number of nonwhite classmates and professors who could supply a different perspective from my own greatly enhanced my legal education.
Test scores should not always be the sole criteria for law school admission. My test scores would not have qualified me for admission to law school at the University of Florida, but I got in based on other factors -- such as experience in the business world, academia or the military -- under which a number of other white males were also admitted.
Gainesville, Fla., July 23, 1995
The writer is with the Center for Governmental Responsibility, University of
Florida College of Law.