On June 9, 1969, California appellate judge Macklin Fleming, a Yale Law graduate, wrote a letter to Dean Louis Pollak questioning the wisdom of the new quota system.
From your remarks and those of Dean Poor, I understand that 43 black students have been admitted to next fall’s class, of whom 5 qualified under the regular standards and 38 did not. … You also said that the future policy of the Law School will be to admit 10 per cent of each entering class without regard to qualification under regular standards.
The immediate damage to the standards of Yale Law School needs no elaboration. But beyond this, it seems to me the admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students.
No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can. Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training.
Currently, the orientals in California, roughly 1 per cent of the population, comprise in some instances 30 per cent of the enrollment in certain engineering and technical schools. Were a quota system to be introduced in those schools in order to favor black and Mexican-American applicants, the first losers would be applicants from the presently disproportionately represented oriental group.
The point of the objection to AA should be that it doesn’t work and has been proven time and time again to be more detrimental to the Black students than anyone else. Students shoved upwards into schools or programs that are beyond their ability or level of perpetration do not succeed. It was to cover over this result that the lowering of standards and ‘grade inflation’ started. The system that was in place before did a pretty good job of placing students into those colleges they were well suited for. There unquestionably was race discrimination at the time that placed barriers to qualified non-white students getting into many colleges. That issue could have been and should have been corrected without delay and comprehensively. That is not what Affirmative Action did.
Affirmative Action put unprepared and unqualified students into programs they were not ready for. And someone actually thought that this was a ‘Victory’. To conceal the rate of failure, those traditional standards of academic achievement that were in the way were either weakened or overridden. If a structure has rot, don’t paint over the rot. Because if you do, eventually the house will fall down.