Over the past 20 years or so the University of Michigan has been repeatedly attacked for being “racist” because the university is doing exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted. The university is treating prospective and current students according to their characters and not their color. This explains why the university rejected to admit Detroit native Brooke Kimbrough, an academically mediocre student.
Kimbrough is appealing the decision, however, claiming that she should be accepted because the university needs “diversity.” What Ms. Kimbrough fails to understand is that the University is successfully diverse with the students and faculty that it already has without lowering their standards. U of M does not need her.
This story demonstrates the hubris of radicalized entitlement. Ms. Kimbrough is making a desert claim on the basis of her skin color instead of her performance. The irony, of course, is that this type of attitude is exactly what the Civil Rights Movement fought to undo in American society. Kimbrough’s radicalized sense of entitlement is an attempt to manipulate and pervert a system of fair treatment when her qualifications do not meet the standard. It’s an embarrassment to Dr. King’s vision.
In 2012, the average ACT range for the entering freshman class at the University of Michigan was 28 to 32. Ms. Kimbrough scored a 23 with a high school GPA of 3.5, earned a Detroit Charter score. Here’s the question: on what grounds could we say that the university is being unfair to Ms. Kimbrough? Scoring 5 points lower than the average bottom admitted student should signal to Kimbrough that she attend another school. Here’s her rationale:
“It represents a bigger struggle than just me — making the community more diverse in a multitude of ways,” she said. “I know that is what U-M stands for. But the university cannot say it’s (diverse) if it doesn’t have equal representation.”
Equal representation of what? At times universities do take risks on lower-performing students like Ms. Kimbrough, but this does not mean that universities should do this nor does it mean that any average student should expect to be admitted because of skin color and goal of diversity. It is possible that Ms. Kimbrough had a very low view of the standards at the university and may have treated that as her “safety school.” If so, she received a sobering reality check that next fall’s Wolverine cruise ship has sailed and that she is not qualified to be on board. This is not a tragic story, however, because with her scores she would be welcomed on board a host of other ships like Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Wayne State University, and many others.
In the final analysis, in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision, and in the spirit of justice and fairness, the best thing the University of Michigan can do is to stand its ground, resist the racial bullying, and invite Ms. Kimbrough to reapply as a transfer student, or even later on as a graduate student, after she have demonstrated that can meet U of M’s standards. No one deserves to go any school they desire because of the color of their skin.
This book tackles the issues of race, politics, contemporary culture, globalization, and education by wedding moral theology and economics.