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BYU Law Review

Abstract

While conservative advocacy groups criticize affirmative action as anti-meritocratic, many universities give similar admissions preferences based on ostensibly race-neutral characteristics that highly correlate with wealth and whiteness. Using data made public through the recent legal challenge to Harvard’s affirmative action policies, statisticians have shown that the greatest boost to an applicant’s admission chances at elite universities is not minority status or high test scores, but rather appearing on a coach’s list of potential recruits. At Harvard, where 70% of athletes are white, these athletic recruitment lists are often for “country club sports” that require expensive tutoring and are rarely played outside of predominantly white suburbs. Our current legislative framework is insufficient to challenge facially race-neutral admissions policies that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of race, like athlete preferences. In response, I propose legislative modifications to Title VI and internal policy changes within the Ivy League to limit this indirect discrimination.

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