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Affirmative Action On The Docket At Cornell Debate As I Argue Against Racial Preferences (October 25)

Affirmative Action On The Docket At Cornell Debate As I Argue Against Racial Preferences (October 25)

On October 25, I will debate at the non-partisan Cornell Political Union, one week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the university affirmative action cases, in favor of the proposition: “Resolved: Stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

I think I may have made a breakthrough. While I am faculty advisor to several (almost all) conservative undergraduate student groups at Cornell, I’ve had relatively little direct interaction with the broader undergraduate student body (though plenty of them read or know about Legal Insurrection).

So I am pleased that I’ve been invited by two non-partisan Cornell undergraduate organizations to debate hot topics that normally go without debate because of the liberal/progressive campus monoculture and the grinding social media pressure to conform. This tells me that there is an unmet need at Cornell, that there are plenty of students who want to hear opposing viewpoints, but the campus culture does not provide diversity of viewpoints.

As is common, the burden falls on me almost alone on campus to speak against the conformist prevailing wisdom, and to give voice to what a lot of people think but are afraid to say.

The second of the debates likely will be in mid-November and has not been officially announced yet. It will revolve around my position that mandatory DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] statements for hiring and admissions do more harm than good and should be eliminated. Cornell has such a requirement for new hires and promotions, along with an administrative mechanism dictating how such statements are to be evaluated. More on DEI statements when the November debate is announced.

The first of the debates has been announced by the non-partisan Cornell Political Union (CPU), and will take place on Cornell’s campus on October 25. It is open to the public. (details below)

CPU is an organization that invites speakers to campus to debate CPU members. The group has been bold in reaching across political divides and has had conservative speakers. You may recall the infamous 2017 incident where a CPU event featuring one of the early Tea Party organizers, Michael Johns, Sr., who was to argue a pro-Trump proposition, was forced under threat of disruption and at the insistence of the Cornell Police into moving to an undisclosed location. The protesters found that new location anyway and pounded on the doors and screamed trying to disrupt the event. See our post, Conservative speaker event forced into hiding at Cornell.

I have been invited to debate racial preferences, which is the core issue (but not the entire issue) in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on October 31 in the cases against Harvard and UNC. The format is that I get 30 minutes to give my view, then there are questions/debate with me from the CPU members, then the CPU members debate among themselves, then they vote.

The Proposition on the table is:

“Resolved: Stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Who could be against that? Well, Harvard, UNC, and hundreds of universities (including Cornell) and professors who have filed amicus briefs at SCOTUS in support of the use of race in admissions decisions.

The CPU Resolution is the second part of Chief Justice John Robert’s famous line, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

You can read CPU’s “Whip Sheet” (Summary), which provides in part:

IT IS A DEEPLY ILL SOCIETY that considers the color of one’s skin as indicative of his worth. The United States fought a bloody civil war to prove, once and for all, that “all men are created equal.” Yet, once again, we see the ugly mark of discrimination. Our top universities have any number of metrics to choose from. Test scores, extracurriculars, GPA, letters of recommendation, &c. are more than sufficient for gauging one’s ability to withstand the rigor of these institutions. Yet they choose to examine race. In doing so, the administration denies admission to hundreds of qualified students. We cannot consider this institution a fair one until we stop discriminating on the basis of race.

AND YET, THE PATH TO EQUALITY IS A CHALLENGING ONE. Many Americans contend we still have not arrived at that noble end. Along the way, many have been left behind. Surely, if we still aspire to be the shining city on a hill, we must lift up those who have been constrained by circumstances beyond their control. Affirmative Action is but one means by which we can open the doors of the American Dream to whom it has remained shut.

All members of the Union are thus invited to the Founders Room of Anabel Taylor Hall. We shall commence no later than 6:30 P.M. with a presentation by our guest speaker, Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School. All those interested in speaking on the docket should contact the Events Director of CPU, Rodge Reschini….

A vote will be taken prior to 8 o’clock P.M. All inquiries should be directed to the President of the Union. Your continued participation is greatly anticipated and appreciated.

The event is open to the public, but only CPU members get to debate and vote. It will not be live-streamed (I wish it were), but CPU has agreed to record it.

See you there?

Wish me luck.


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Professor, if anyone can handle it you can. Did I understand there is a Q&A sometime where students ask you and others questions?

Go get them

    Dimsdale in reply to gonzotx. | October 19, 2022 at 7:41 am

    Heck yes!! The left has only two explanations for the “need” for Affirmative action: blacks were under- or maleducated (the left controls academia), or “blacks aren’t smart enough to make it without our help.” (their inherent and systemic racism; the soft bigotry of low leftist expectations)

Affirmative Action is Institutionalized Racial Discrimination.

This is NOT a victimless crime.

50 years of rejecting millions of college applicants so they can accept other, less qualified, applicants. Preference given based entirely on RACE.

Same happens in the job market – when applying for any job, or applying for a promotion within any company. Racial, and gender (and now religious) preferences have victimized hundreds of millions of people over the past half century.

For every person that gets advanced based on a racial preference, there’s someone else that got denied that same opportunity because they were born with the wrong color skin.

    Dimsdale in reply to Aarradin. | October 19, 2022 at 7:43 am

    And the blacks suffer the most, because everyone assumes that any successful black, regardless if they got AA or not, was pushed ahead despite any lack of ability.

      ConradCA in reply to Dimsdale. | October 19, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      Obama is proof that affirmative action is a disaster.

      Aarradin in reply to Dimsdale. | October 20, 2022 at 5:14 am

      Yeah, they can cry all the way to the bank with their paychecks, and then go live in their upper middle class homes.

      Definitely worse for them than for the non-blacks that were denied educations and jobs.

    Gosport in reply to Aarradin. | October 19, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Institutionalized racial discrimination is the definition of apartheid.

    It should be called such vigorously and often.

There is no such thing as allegedly benign and laudable discrimination.

Suburban Farm Guy | October 18, 2022 at 10:25 pm

I still chuckle at the higher ed contingent which immediately jumped to add their 2c to save AA — who are most threatened if it were to be ended — athletics departments. Gee now, why would that be???

Best of luck, professor. We’re pulling for you big time. Hope we can hold Roberts to his sensible line there.

Give em hell, Professor.

When AA became the law of the land, I didn’t like it at all but I grudgingly accepted it as a temporary measure. At the time, I was too young to realize that once a federal program is enacted, it never, ever, ever gets repealed.

In my own lifetime, I have seen very few contrary examples: off the top of my head, only the 55MPH speed limit and the AW ban, and the latter was only because they explicitly wrote it into the law.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to henrybowman. | October 19, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    Same for me, crucifying George Zimmerman, followed by a long stream of other cases, convinced me that Affirmative Action needed to be killed. There is a rather large per capita number of blacks who are bald faced racists, and criminals. Incarceration rates are clear proof of the scope of the problem.

    I do think that Marxists are using blacks, taking advantage of them, that does not excuse those who are bad apples conduct.

Another seed planted beginning to pay off. Many of the Cornell students who already follow you will almost certainly continue after they graduate. Times will change and this could prove to be a foundational influence.

Their willingness to frame the proposition to match Justice Roberts’ quotation is a strong positive, because it (in theory) forces the debate towards the actuality of what is going on.

Nonetheless, I would be surprised if speakers on the other side don’t try to avoid the topic through various levels of denial. The entire purpose of the “diversity” euphemism is to linguistically dodge any admission of what is really happening. Thus, we’re treated to “it’s not really race-based discrimination; we’re not really doing that; no one is being denied admission on the basis of race,” etc.

If I were in Prof. Jacobson’s shoes, I would (A) be very clear that the proposition is a direct attestation of what’s at stake here, but (B) be prepared for the debate to veer into assorted forms of denial and obfuscation.

Many prayers for you professor!
We are thankful that you are willing and blessed that you are up to the task.
May hearts and minds be opened by your words.

Good luck, Professor. I hope Cornell provides effective safety for this event.

If you want to see the Cornell faculty change directions change the question to: Resolved: All faculty and administrative positions are reserved for minorities.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to kjon. | October 19, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Thay is a huge part of why both k-12 and higher exd are so screwed up. It is not just black jocks, there are lots of white jock deadwood in academics.

My Take…

Affirmative Action was one of the actions born out of LBJ’s War on Poverty and the Great Society. This policy robbed our Nation of its intellect, placed those targeted into dependency and signaled the beginning of the decline of America..

    JohnSmith100 in reply to GrumpyOne. | October 19, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    The original intent was to identify competent blacks and give a helping hand, I was fine with that, Unfortunately, when they could not very many blacks with merit, they started dumbing the system down. In my experience of hiring and firing, about 90% of blacks were not competent for jobs which they wanted to put them in, Part of that was intelligence, and part was poor attitude and ethics. We were constanty having to work harder to compensate for those people. People rightfully resent this.

      henrybowman in reply to JohnSmith100. | October 21, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      “The original intent was to identify competent blacks and give a helping hand, I was fine with that”

      The original STATED intent, maybe. But looking back, we can see that never was the case.

      Same as the STATED intent of red flag laws now is to allow scared family members to report their crazy uncle. But now that we see the first returns coming in, we see that the real intent was to give cops a way to come in and grab your guns without any due process of constitutional protections, because THEY are filing almost all the red flag forms, not people’s families.

      There’s a quote attributed to LBJ: “You do not examine legislation in light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.” (Ironic, isn’t it?)

      I pair this with a quote by my colleague Rick Cook: “The key to understanding the American system is to imagine that you have the power to make nearly any law you want. But your worst enemy will be the one to enforce it.”

      I see things much even more clearly now that I have lined my tinfoil hat with these two gems of wisdom.

      ” In my experience of hiring and firing, about 90% of blacks were not competent for jobs which they wanted to put them in,”

      That’s higher than I’d expect but at least 40% could be expected failures as implied by Jordan Peterson – and the IQ distribution of Blacks – who has pointed out on YT ( Jordan Peterson | The Most Terrifying IQ Statistic ) that the Military will not induct anyone with an IQ < 83. That's about 15 million African Americans!

I hope you are all out of bubblegum.

I well remember when this bad joke came into being. “They need some help for a while to get on their feet” or something like that. Now, all these years later it’s still in force and was a disgraceful, unfair and nonsensical racist policy from day one.

All the race hustlers should be exposed for the insanity they ALL BRING.. This unthinkable mess should not have even been considered!

Here’s hoping they don’t shut you down, Professor.

AA isn’t really about helping disadvantaged minorities – it’s about degrading objective standards.

Frederick Douglass | October 19, 2022 at 1:01 pm

“Everybody has asked the question. . .”What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!”

— Fredrick Douglass


Booker T. Washington | October 19, 2022 at 1:11 pm

“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.“

— Booker T. Washington


A_Cornell_Alumnus | October 19, 2022 at 1:24 pm

My zero tolerance for traditional Jim Crow discrimination (speaking of which, I read here that Ithaca College has reintroduced “white” and “colored” events for faculty, when will they get around to adding separate rest rooms and drinking fountains?), and formerly discrimination against Jews, Italians, Irish people, and so on, carries over into zero tolerance for affirmative action and I do not even recognize its legitimacy.

My position is that applicants should consider themselves free to identify as whatever they feel like identifying to circumvent, evade, and defeat affirmative action preferences as these are not legitimate criteria and in fact constitute racial discrimination. I read, for example, that a dark skinned Asian Indian identified as a Black person to get into medical school.

If you’re a Sephardic (from Spain, a good place to be from in 1492) Jew, that makes you Hispanic, right? Given Spain’s history in a good part of what is now the United States, you may well be part Hispanic anyway. Same if you’re from the Netherlands and parts of Italy which were once part of Spain. If you’re Japanese-American (noting that Asians face discrimination just like Jews), Japan is a big island in the Pacific so you’re a Pacific Islander. Taiwan also is a big island in the Pacific.

Affirmative action will follow Jim Crow into the (tr)ash heap of history when people deny it respect or recognition.

The question to ask is how many blacks get an education, obey the law, work hard and respect others yet are unable to find jobs?

Local MD who would LOVE to attend but unfortunately cannot due to being scheduled to work evening call that week.😢
Please let us know when the recorded debate is available to view.
A question though!
How can it possibly be that the issue of discriminating on the basis of race…for ANY reason…could any longer be the subject of debate?
I thought we fought long and hard for decades to put such obviously racist positions behind us??
We live in scary and strange times.
I hope you can help them see sanity professor!
Good luck!

Video is up
The resolution passed 22 for, 13 abstain, 7 against.
I suspect that in a public forum such as this, most of those abstaining would have voted ‘for’ if they could have voted secretly.