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Marcus ’88 Moves on Racial Issues, 5

Ken Marcus ’88 is the (recently confirmed) Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, a position which places him at the center of the debate about racial diversity in higher education. Marcus, and his colleagues in the Justice Department, have started the process of getting rid of racial preferences. Let’s spend a week discussing their efforts. Day 5.

“It remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the 4-to-3 majority.

Some colleges, such as Duke and Bucknell universities, said they would wait to see how the Education Department proceeds in issuing new guidance. Other colleges said they would proceed with diversifying their campuses as the Supreme Court intended.

Melodie Jackson, a Harvard spokeswoman, said the university would “continue to vigorously defend its right, and that of all colleges and universities, to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court for more than 40 years.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Michigan, which won a major Supreme Court case in 2003, suggested that the flagship university would like more freedom to consider race, not less. But it is already constrained by state law. After the case, Michigan voters enacted a constitutional ban on race-conscious college admissions policies.

Where are we headed? Tough to know!

1) Discrimination against Asian-Americans is significant, unpopular and very hard to justify. A Republican Supreme Court is going to find it hard to allow it to continue, at least officially. I suspect that decisions like Fisher v. Texas are in trouble, although any eventual over-turning might be several years out.

2) The Deep State of elite education is not so easily defeated. Affirmative Action — treating applicants differently on the basis of their race — is already illegal in states like California and Michigan and, yet, it still goes on sub rosa.

3) Elite institutions like Harvard are determined and resourceful. Their defense in the current lawsuit is, quite frankly, genius. Harvard creates a personal rating for all applicants. Asian-Americans do much worse on this metric. Once you account for these scores, Harvard (probably!) does not discriminate. And, since those (totally opaque!) scores are under Harvard’s complete control, there is no way to prove that it is discriminating or to stop it from doing so.

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#1 Comment By Williams Alum On July 13, 2018 @ 8:45 am

This post doesn’t have a strong enough Eph connection. It appears you threw in the name of an alum at the beginning, then never mentioned him or Williams again. Please strengthen the Williams connection or I will be forced to take it down.


#2 Comment By dcat On July 13, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

“The Deep State of elite education”? For fuck’s sake, when you right wing blowhards grab hold of a phrase you really just hammer it into the ground, don’t you?

#3 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On July 13, 2018 @ 3:22 pm

What phrase would you prefer? Even though affirmative action is illegal in both California and Michigan, schools like Berkeley and U Mich still practice a lot of it, although perhaps less than schools in other states.

What general term would you use to refer to the administrators at these state institutions as they flout the law and clear voter preferences?

#4 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On July 13, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

From Wikipedia:

In the United States the term “deep state” is used within political science to describe influential decision-making bodies believed to be within government who are relatively permanent and whose policies and long-term plans are unaffected by changing administrations. The term is often used in a critical sense, vis-à-vis, the general electorate to refer to the lack of influence popular democracy has on these institutions and the decisions they make as a shadow government.

This is perfect for my intended usage. The voters of Michigan passed an amendment to the state constitution to prevent the use of race in things like college admissions. The folks at U Michigan still do it, despite that vote. When it comes to affirmative action, they are the Deep State.

#5 Comment By dcat On July 13, 2018 @ 5:44 pm

No. Even given your definition, that is not the “Deep State” at work (People within elite education are not “decision making bodies believed to be WITHIN government.” This is, of course, assuming that Wikipedia’s definition covers the ubiquity of this increasing right-wing conjuring phrase in common usage.

Try it without the right-wing talking points. I know you’re dying for your shot to be in that world. But at Ephblog you’re not auditioning for your slot on Fox and Friends. Drop the buzzwords and argue like a normal person if you are capable of doing so.

The fucking “Deep State.” Jesus Christ.


#6 Comment By anonymous On July 13, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

I’m calling unnecessary hostility.
Yours truly,

#7 Comment By Tikhon On July 13, 2018 @ 11:48 pm

Your argument would be more effective if you didn’t resort to a dubious and clearly pro-Trump phrase such as ‘Deep State’. You’re discussing the policies of two distinct university systems as if they’re part of a single administrative entity.

#8 Comment By Fendertweed On July 15, 2018 @ 8:18 am

“Deep State” = for too many, the unthinking person’s idea of what penetrating analysis looks like.


#9 Comment By ZSD On July 15, 2018 @ 10:01 am


I agree! The use of the term “Deep State” is “unnecessary hostility”. Also brainless!

#10 Comment By PTC On July 15, 2018 @ 10:25 am


For those who want to check it out…

#11 Comment By Alum-Anon On July 15, 2018 @ 5:31 pm

It seems to me that if George Friedman can acknowledge the existence of the “deep state” on HuffPost then the individuals complaining so rudely and vociferously in this thread really haven’t got a leg on which to stand.


#12 Comment By dcat On July 17, 2018 @ 8:21 am

What does an author writing an opinion piece asserting that there is such thing as a “Deep State” have to do with the absurd assertion that there is a higher education “deep state” at work in the case Dave is asserting here? If it’s rude to call stupid arguments stupid, then I’m rude. Because Dave’s argument about the higer education “deep state” is so stupid it ought not to be allowed to operate light machinery.