Professor Bruce E. Fleming is an English Professor from Annapolis. He has an absolutely powerhouse OP-ED in Sunday’s The Capital.
We have all heard over the last month or so the chorus over how diverse the incoming class at Annapolis is. Well, the devil is in the details – and Professor Fleming lays the whole thing out there to see, smell, and feel.
A “diverse” class does not mean the Naval Academy recruits violinists, or older students (they can’t be 23 on Induction Day), or gay people (who are thrown out) or foreign students (other than the dozen or so sent by client governments).
It means applicants checked a box on their application that says they are Hispanic, African American, Native American, and now, since my time on the Admissions Board of the Academy, where I’ve taught for 22 years, Asians.
Midshipmen are admitted by two tracks. White applicants out of high school who are not also athletic recruits typically need grades of A and B and minimum SAT scores of 600 on each part for the Board to vote them “qualified.” Athletics and leadership also count.
A vote of “qualified” for a white applicant doesn’t mean s/he’s coming, only that he or she can compete to win the “slate” of up to 10 nominations that (most typically) a Congress(wo)man draws up. That means that nine “qualified” white applicants are rejected. SAT scores below 600 or C grades almost always produce a vote of “not qualified” for white applicants.
Not so for an applicant who self-identifies as one of the minorities who are our “number one priority.” For them, another set of rules apply. Their cases are briefed separately to the board, and SAT scores to the mid-500s with quite a few Cs in classes (and no visible athletics or leadership) typically produce a vote of “qualified” for them, with direct admission to Annapolis. They’re in, and are given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.
Minority applicants with scores and grades down to the 300s with Cs and Ds (and no particular leadership or athletics) also come, though after a remedial year at our taxpayer-supported remedial school, the Naval Academy Preparatory School.
By using NAPS as a feeder, we’ve virtually eliminated all competition for “diverse” candidates: in theory they have to get a C average at NAPS to come to USNA, but this is regularly re-negotiated.
There you go. Create a new sub-category (for the USNA) of minority, and have a two-track, separate and unequal selections process. You just increased your diversity. Quod erat demonstrandum.
I highly recommend that you read the whole thing and soak it in. When it comes to getting a handle on how such paternalistic racist policies impact our dialog on race, read some of the comments there as well.
How anyone can defend or be proud of such a blatantly discriminatory policy is beyond me. It sets up young men and women for failure, unfairly stigmatizes minority MIDN and officers who would qualify in a race-neutral environment, it pushes quality cuts to the fleet where lives are on the line (hulls of ships and skin of aircraft don’t care what your DNA is), and on a whole it tarnishes our entire culture of fairness.
In the zero-sum game that is admissions, you can no longer say that we don’t discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. As outlined in Professor Fleming’s OP-ED, we do. It also plants the seed of doubt that if we discriminate at the beginning; do we also continue to discriminate throughout the career path?
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