Holistic Review in Race-Conscious University Admissions

22 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2019 Last revised: 17 Aug 2019

See all articles by George W. Dent

George W. Dent

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Hal R. Arkes

Ohio State University - Department of Psychology

Date Written: August 12, 2019

Abstract

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

Dent, George W. and Arkes, Hal R., Holistic Review in Race-Conscious University Admissions (August 12, 2019). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3436117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3436117

George W. Dent (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
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Hal R. Arkes

Ohio State University - Department of Psychology ( email )

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Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-1592 (Phone)
614-688-3984 (Fax)

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