Affirmative Action at Public Universities Is Surprisingly Ineffective

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Over at 538, Hayley Munguia has an article titled “Here’s What Happens When You Ban Affirmative Action In College Admissions.” Her charts surprised me:

What surprised me was how little effect affirmative action policies seem to have. Both blacks and Hispanics are substantially underrepresented at public research universities, but their underrepresentation is nearly the same in states with and without affirmative action bans. There’s a small effect from the bans, but that’s all.

If this data is correct, it’s a little puzzling that either side feels as strongly as they do about affirmative action at public universities. If race-based policies have this little effect, maybe it really would be a good idea to try something different.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend