Reflections on Academic Merit Badges and Becoming an Eagle Scout

45 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2007


Recent scholars in the area of racial admissions have suggested that we look to more postmodern issues beyond those of mere access and stratification of student admissions and faculty hiring. Following this suggestion, I believe that the most exclusionary practices occur in the daily practice of distributing the highest level of prestige resources, at the highest level of prestige, those of the various merit badges in the Law Professor Scout Troop. These include some of the most symbolic and tangible: law symposium special issues, named lectures, endowed and named chairs, memberships in elected or appointed honor societies and academies, clerkships, and honorary degrees and other honorific designations. These are important because we designate them as such and signal them as important, and because they sort us out, even within the verdant pastures where we all graze. My thesis is that there are many hidden assumptions and distributive inequalities in these prestige resources, and that the inequalities are socially constructed, highly competitive, and racially significant.

Keywords: Faculty, Racial Discrimination, Colleges, Higher Education

Suggested Citation

Olivas, Michael A., Reflections on Academic Merit Badges and Becoming an Eagle Scout. Houston Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Michael A. Olivas (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States
713-743-2078 (Phone)
713-743-2085 (Fax)

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