Thursday, August 16, 2012
Charles E. Daye (North Carolina), A. T. Panter (North Carolina), Walter R. Allen (UCLA) & Linda F. Wightman (North Carolina), Does Race Matter in Educational Diversity? A Legal and Empirical Analysis, 13 Rutgers Race & L. Rev. ___ (2012):
This article reports The Educational Diversity Project’s findings on two empirical questions: (1) Do students differ by race upon entering law school? (2) Do any differences contribute educational benefits to students, institutions, or society? Extensive quantitative and qualitative empirical data support the finding that a racially diverse law student body provides educational benefits. Many differences students present are associated with diversities of backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, expectations, and outlooks that are related to their race. Diversity fosters richer interactions and positive educational outcomes. Race contributes to the achievement of educational diversity that benefits students, their institution, and society.
The underlying premise of the U.S. Supreme Court's precedent in Grutter v. Bollinger — which upheld the limited use of affirmative action in college admissions — is that students benefit from being in a racially diverse educational environment.
But there hasn't exactly been a wealth of social science research to support this theory, as retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lamented in a 2010 essay. As the justices prepare to take up affirmative action again, research has emerged that might help fill that gap.
A study titled Does Race Matter in Educational Diversity? A Legal and Empirical Analysis concludes that law students actually do benefit from racial diversity on campus and that law schools should work to maintain diverse classes. ...
The data show, resoundingly, that students of different races do come to law school with differences in experience and perception, Daye said. Perhaps more important, those differences translated into a richer educational experience overall, according to the surveyed students. Many students reported that they left law school with a deeper understanding of the law as a result of diversity among their classmates, Daye said.
Update: Point of Law: Bogus "Diversity Study," by Ted Frank