For white men, affirmative action is a boon not a boondoggle

The affirmative action debate misses an elephant in the room. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 ― When you talk about affirmative action, remember this number: three out of four.

McMasters University Medical School in Ontario, Canada admitted 76.3 percent women to its Class of 2002. McMasters, like most colleges in North America, can’t find qualified men to admit. To this end, the chair of the medical school announced McMasters needed “rethinking” of its admissions criteria. 


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Most American colleges “rethought” this long ago and for decades have resolved to enact, but never speak of, a vast affirmative action quota system for men, mostly white.  

According to U.S. News and World Report, at Rutgers, men have an admissions rate five percent higher than the women who apply. It is six and seven percent higher, respectively, for men applying to Wake Forest and Georgia State University. Eight and eleven percent higher at Boston College and College of William and Mary, and a whopping 21 percent higher at Wheaton College.

(Editors Note: The following correction has been sent in by William & Mary: The numbers from W&M’s most recent common data set show that we admitted 40.7% of men and 27.4% of women. Communities regrets any misinformation.)

Despite giving men these huge boosts, each of these colleges has fewer men than women. Men, to put a fine point on it, simply are not cutting it.


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Yesterday the Supreme Court punted back to the lower court its latest case challenging the constitutionality of affirmative action. One wouldn’t know it from the argument in the case, but white men are not affirmative action’s biggest victims; rather they are likely its biggest beneficiaries.

For all the wattage expended decrying “under-qualified minority admits,” one of the biggest, most dramatic demographic trends in a generation goes unnoticed. It has been dubbed the national “Boys Crisis” or “Boys Gap.” Its concomitant effect has been the evolution of men into the vast new under-qualified underclass living off handouts.

After our last recession, for the first time in American history more women were working than men in America. Maureen Dowd’s 2005 “Are Men Necessary?” presaged this, as women have outnumbered men in college every year since 1979, one year after the Bakke decision.

Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men” has followed and Lisa Mundy’s “The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family”. The latter came amid the news from the Pew Research Center that women are now the primary breadwinners in 40-percent of American households with children.


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“Failure to Launch: the Boys Initiative” has been christened, in response to questions like NPR’s 2011 segment “Are Men Finished?” No question mark was deemed necessary for the 2011 Intelligence Square debate resolution which asserted matter-of-factly “Men Are Finished.”

Women outstrip men in college admissions, with three out of five new students being women, and studies show girls study longer and have higher GPAs. Women also outnumber men in masters degree programs and doctoral programs. Astoundingly, for every 100 22-year-old men with a college degree, there are 187 women of the same age with a college degree.

Consequently, explained one admissions counselor, “Because young men are rarer, they’re more valued applicants.” Most colleges implement affirmative action for men in order to achieve a male to female ratio close to 50-50. As a result, a recent InsideHigherEd survey of public four-year university admissions counselors found almost one in five are so hungry for male students they admitted to accepting men with lower academic credentials.

So pronounced is the trend, some college counselors have begun advising some boys to “emphasize their maleness” on their college applications. Quota points for maleness. Thus, male is the new black.

Universities justify the practice in the following ways. “Once you become decidedly female in enrollment, fewer males and, as it turns out, fewer females find your campus attractive,” explains Kenyon College admissions counselor Jennifer Delahunty Britz in a 2006 lament “To All The Girls I’ve Rejected.”

Put more candidly, “Women who enroll … expect to see men on campus,” said College of William and Mary admissions dean Henry Broaddus. “It’s not the College of Mary and Mary, it’s the College of William and Mary,” he added.

However legitimate, on-campus dating prospects are weaker grounds on which to justify affirmative action than leveling the racial playing field. Those who oppose one and not the other are being capricious, not principled.

To wit, if affirmative action is good for white men, it ought to be good for everybody else.


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Charles Badger

Charles Badger has been a columnist for The Washington Times Communities section since 2013. He is a Republican political strategist, speechwriter, and former aide to a Member of Congress, currently working in disaster relief logistics & communications. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Berea College.

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