Random selection is not generally an approach that most people opt for in the selection of doctors or even restaurants or a movie. However, it appears to be the new model for some in higher education. Former Barnard College mathematics professor Cathy O’Neil has written a column calling for “random selection” of all college graduates to guarantee racial diversity. It is ever so simple:
“Never mind optional standardized tests. If you show interest, your name goes in a big hat.”
She is not the only one arguing for blind or random admissions.
Recently, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced that the entire system will no longer base admissions on standardized tests — joining a “test-blind” admissions movement nationally. Others have denounced standardized testing as vehicles for white supremacy. Education officials like Alison Collins, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education, have declared meritocracy itself to be racist. There is a growing criticism that the problem with higher education is that it relies on merit rather than status as the driving criteria for admissions.
O’Neil and others are arguing not just for blind but actually random selection to achieve true diversity. O’Neil argues that it would also “take the pressure off students to conform to the prevailing definition of the ideal candidate” and allow them “to be kids again, smoking pot and getting laid in between reading Dostoyevsky and writing bad poetry.”
Others have called for purely random selection. In 2019, the liberal New America foundation argued that highly selective colleges and universities should admit students by lottery. Amy Laitinen, Claire McCann, and Rachel Fishman argued that not only should admissions be random but schools “would lose all eligibility not only to Title IV aid but also to federal research dollars.” They argued that this “This would do away with admissions preferences that overwhelmingly favor white and wealthy applicants, including for athletes and legacies.” – READ MORE
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