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Civil Rights Commission Blunders Again

by Mona Charen

first published in the National Review.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission (yes, it’s still around, and yes, it’s outlived its usefulness) is about to subtract from national wisdom about college admissions by focusing on exactly the wrong problem.

The commission has undertaken an inquiry to determine whether colleges may be discriminating against female applicants. The question turns on whether admissions officers, in an attempt to maintain rough gender parity on campuses, are putting a thumb on the scale in favor of underrepresented male applicants, thus disadvantaging the more qualified females.

That this is happening — though it theoretically violates the law for public institutions — is an open secret. Women now earn 62 percent of associate degrees, 58 percent of bachelor’s degrees, and 60 percent of master’s degrees. Women’s dominance in higher education would be even more pronounced if colleges were truly gender blind in admissions. But they are not. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania admitted 19 percent of male applicants last year, but only 14 percent of females. The College of William and Mary, a public college in Virginia, admitted 43 percent of its male applicants and 29 percent of its female applicants last year.

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