The New Yorker has an interview with William G. Bowen, the President of Princeton when Sonia Sotomayor joined as a freshman and an expert on affirmative action. His comments, I think, have some special resonance with our own Afffirmative-Action style debates at Brandeis and I think people would be well served to read the interview.
What would you say is the one misconception that you keep on encountering when you look at the current debate over affirmative action?
One lesson that I have derived from participating in this debate, for heaven knows how many years, is the simple-minded assumption that you either deserve to be there or you don’t. There isn’t just one index of merit, and the point of admissions is not to bestow gold stars on people who’ve done well before, to predict the future. It’s to choose students to invest in who are going to make the university better and are going to make society better. Those are bets on the future.