Holistic Review in Race-Conscious University Admissions
32 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2019 Last revised: 21 Apr 2021
Date Written: August 12, 2019
The Supreme Court has held that race may be considered as “a factor of a factor of a factor” within a “holistic” program of university admissions if the university can satisfy a heavy burden of proving that the program is “narrowly tailored” to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. The Court has listed the desired benefits of racial diversity, but it has not discussed what evidence a university needs to prove that its program is “narrowly tailored” to achieve those benefits.
This article addresses that issue. The field of psychology offers abundant research about the process of judgment and decision-making (“JDM”) and testing the validity of any particular program of decision-making. This knowledge offers valuable insights about how a university can design and, later, measure the validity of its admissions process so that it is “narrowly tailored” to achieve the educational benefits of racial diversity approved by the Supreme Court.
Part I describes the standard that the Court has laid down for race-conscious admissions programs. Part II reviews the JDM literature on holistic and disaggregated decision-making. Part III discusses how the conclusions of this literature can guide the courts in applying the standard of review laid down by the Supreme Court.
Keywords: holistic ratings, disaggregated ratings, actuarial judgment, student evaluations, Constitutional law, equal protection, Racial discrimination, Affirmative action, race-conscious admissions
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation