Race-based admissions policies pervade higher education, but voters do not favor them. A new survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reveals just how out of touch colleges and universities are with Republicans and independents. The survey, based on phone interviews with 800 Illinois residents, found that large majorities favor merit-based college admissions policies and encourage the teaching of America’s founding in civic education.

Race-based admissions policies are unpopular and inadequate

Nathaniel Urban June 11, 12:00 AM June 11, 12:00 AM

Race-based admissions policies pervade higher education, but voters do not favor them. A new survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni reveals just how out of touch colleges and universities are with Republicans and independents. The survey, based on phone interviews with 800 Illinois residents, found that large majorities favor merit-based college admissions policies and encourage the teaching of America’s founding in civic education.

According to the survey, 89% of Republicans and 62% of independents agree that college admissions should be merit-based, “even if that results in less racial diversity at selective colleges and universities.” Interestingly, Democrats are divided on the issue, narrowly favoring merit-based admissions policies (47% vs. 41% who disagreed).

A majority of Republicans (90%) and independents (67%) also agree that “public universities should work to educate citizens in U.S. history and founding principles as the basis for reasoned debate and civil dialogue” instead of working “to combat systemic racism and structural inequality by teaching students about white privilege.” Democrats agreed with Republicans and independents by a small margin (45% vs. 43% who disagreed).

Race-based admissions policies evaluate and segregate students unfairly and dangerously. Merit-based admissions policies evaluate academic performance impartially. Furthermore, a close study of America’s founding documents does a much better job of providing students with the knowledge and the framework they need to think through issues of race and inequality in our time than many of the diversity courses that are in vogue today.

The founding documents transcend identity politics and radical political agendas. The words “white” and “black” in terms of skin color do not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution. These documents recognize that all members of our great nation, regardless of race, religion, status, or wealth, are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass revered America’s founding documents. At the end of his well-known address, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, he wrote, “I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.”

In his I Have a Dream speech, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. … And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

The spirit of 1776 is the great crusade toward which America has striven since its inception, and race-based admissions policies and diversity courses miss the mark. Republicans and independents recognize the inferior methods that equip students to think about equality in America. Democrats are split nearly evenly on these issues; the majority is slightly ahead in favoring merit-based college admissions policies and the uniqueness of the founding of the United States.

It is clear that people in the U.S. are not on board with the “woke” agenda. Colleges and universities must encourage the pursuit of truth and uphold the sacred principles of the American founding as opposed to kowtowing to radical political ideologies.

Nathaniel Urban is the associate director of curricular improvement at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. 

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