To the Editor:
I have read a number of the articles over the last few months pertaining to race/diversity and LBGT issues — particularly in North Carolina — and I just now read “Race-Conscious Admissions Policies Just Got Easier to Defend” (The Chronicle, June 23). Unless I missed it, it seems that you and others have thus far missed a larger story that may well have a massive impact — intended or not — on the way genetic characteristics are handled on campus. Start with the recent direction from the administration and Department of Justice regarding transgender persons which included the instruction to accept “self identification” as validation of gender.
Following this guideline, my presumption is that this same threshold must be applied to any other genetic characteristic — including race or ethnicity. I certainly can’t think of an argument for accepting it in one case and not another. Thus, for example, a student born to Caucasian parents but who indicates that she self-identifies as a Pacific Islander, Alaska Native, African American, or Asian must be treated accordingly.
Please pardon the cynicism, but it is easy enough to see that if applicants understand that their chances of admission are increased by identifying with a particular ethnicity or race, we might well see a spike in such “self identification.” Extrapolated, this would essentially eliminate gender, race, and any other genetically based variable, from meaningful criteria in admissions consideration. And if so, the race variable will very rapidly be diminished in admissions significance — akin to asking a given applicant to list his hobbies.
Western State Colorado University