It is the deep irony of our times that readers, often deeply educated, will shell out $30 for a meal in New York or San Francisco while paying thousands in rent, only to avoid paying a few bucks a month for a publication, let alone ten. The bulk of the internet doesn’t pay for subscriptions. People will gladly spend hours a day reading brainjunk, to avoid even the slightest expense that might improve the quality of what they are reading. If you want to consume McDonald’s, be my guest. If you want to read whatever LinkedIn calls news, go right ahead. But if you actually want to learn, to improve your mind, to improve your awareness and understanding of the world, you have to shell out. Start paying. [Danny Crichton, 2018]
Justice Powell argued that “a diverse student body” was a worthy goal of any university which allowed the consideration of race in admissions. He justified this neither on the grounds of racial justice nor the amelioration of past or present discrimination, but on the grounds of diversity. Powell claimed that racial and ethnic diversity advanced the core intellectual mission of American higher education, namely “speculation, experiment and creation,” “the interplay of ideas and the exchange of views,” and an encounter of differing “ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples.” This claim hardly originated with Powell, of course. He was simply repeating the collective views of Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania as stated in their joint brief to the Court in defense of affirmative action.
Despite all this uncertainty, higher education displayed total unity of purpose in the Fisher case. Plaintiffs Abigail Noel Fisher applied to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and was denied admission. The woman, White, filed suit, alleging that the University had discriminated against her on the basis of her race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Briefs supporting the University of Texas were filed by seventy-five universities and colleges as well as by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Association of American Law Schools. Not one college, university, or educational organization filed in support of Abigail Fisher.