Paul L. Caron

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The U.S. News Law School Rankings Failed Diversity 101

Vivia Chen (Bloomberg Law), Why U.S. News & World Report Failed Diversity 101:

US News Logo 2Its foray into law school diversity ranking has been a fiasco. Is this emblematic of how even some sophisticated institutions mishandle diversity?

This is not the most politic thing to say but here I go: We should stop putting old White men in charge of decisions about diversity.

I know that’s a comment that will raise eyebrows but that was my gut reaction when I heard about U.S. News & World Report’s embarrassing foray into law school diversity. That august publication just came out with its latest law school rankings, and this year’s birth was a bit of a disaster. And yes, the chieftain behind the enterprise happens to be an older White guy. ...

The effort at U.S. News also started off with good intentions. For the first time, U.S. News decided to launch a diversity scorecard based on racial and ethnic data provided by the nation’s law schools.

Then, it went off the rails. For unexplained reasons, it dropped both Asian and multiracial students from its diversity count. Law schools protested, and U.S. News recategorized Asian students as diverse. However, it continued to omit multiracial students, prompting 162 law school deans to pen a letter dated March 24 to U.S. News in protest. ...

Good grief. Does anyone at U.S. News, which commands a fearsome empire that decides the prestige of higher education institutions worldwide, need this memo that multiracial people and Asians aren’t White? ...

It’s a grand mess. And the one in charge is Robert Morse, the chief data strategist for U.S. News, to whom the letter by the 162 law school deans was directed.

So what does Morse have to say about this fiasco? I asked Morse to comment and he replied in an email: “After receiving feedback, we decided to delay the law diversity ranking so we can devote more time to ensuring it accurately reflects the data of underrepresented minorities, including students of two or more races. We will publish it at a later, as yet undetermined date.”

I pressed further. Why were Asians and multiracial students excluded from the diversity calculus in the first place? He answered: “We do not share our internal editorial deliberations and decision-making, but we can share that we received feedback that will help shape our rankings.”

I am not here to make Morse the villain of the show. ... Still, as an Asian woman and former lawyer, I want to ask him, what the hell were you thinking? The whole episode underscores how even sophisticated people in the “woke” world of mainstream media can fail spectacularly to grasp the fundamentals of what it means to be a minority and how hurtful it is not to be acknowledged as such.

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