Bitterness, Debt and Failure Among Good Black Students: Blame Preference Policies

To foster race-neutral admissions processes at American colleges and universities, the Trump Administration rescinded “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law or otherwise improper” guidance issued during the Obama era.

Among discarded guidance is the approval of race-explicit selection criteria – including the suggestion there is a “compelling interest” that “[i]n some cases, race-neutral approaches will be unworkable because they will be ineffective to achieve the diversity the institution seeks.”

No longer. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it’s “wrong, and it’s not good government.”

Joining Sessions in sharp criticism of these old ideas is Project 21 member Dr. Carol M. Swain, a former professor at Vanderbilt University and Princeton University. In a press release applauding the Trump Administration’s action, she called the removing the endorsement of racial preferences “wise” and said the Obama guidance “places students in situations where they are doomed to fail, become embittered by rising debt and frustrated with the mismatch between abilities and expectations.”

Producers at the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle” saw and liked what Carol had to say, and they asked her to be on the July 5 edition of the program to debate the topic in greater detail. Guest host Pete Hegseth moderated the exchange between Carol and liberal commentator Antjuan Seawright.

Seawright made the assertion that this was a “red-meat issue” for President Donald Trump’s supporters, and the President was trying to undo the work of the Obama Administration out of spite. Carol succinctly countered about the unfairness of anachronistic racial preference priorities:

It is unfair against Asians as well as other non-minorities who are better qualified. And it’s also [that] the country is not the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago.

In more detail about the long-term problems associated with race-based admissions policies, she noted:

There have been many minority students that I have encountered that have been struggling. There are some that are well-qualified. I mean, they’re at the top of the class. But there’s many that are struggling. They are failing. They would have been successful if they had gone to a state university or a community college or a trade school. They leave school with a lot of debt.

And I firmly believe one reason we have so much unrest on college campuses today – so much anger and bitterness and the students who want to self-segregate – is because many of them are not prepared for the institutions that have been allowed to matriculate in.

Project 21 recently released its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” that recommends schools be required to meet minimum graduation rate standards for both general and minority student populations to be eligible for federal student financial aid, among other ideas. The Blueprint is Project 21’s 57-point plan for removing barriers blocking blacks from empowerment and ensuring they have their chance to attain the American dream.

Among its specific proposals to give black college students a better deal by promoting their success, Project 21 recommends:

  • Incentivizing schools to provide black students the support they need by requiring schools to meet minimum graduation rate standards to qualify for federal financial aid programs.
  • Providing additional funding to improve the infrastructure of, renovate and update Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by reprogramming existing funding for colleges – provided the HBCUs commit to meeting the same minimum graduation standards required of all colleges receiving federal financial aid.
  • Ending policies that encourage segregation by restricting federal aid to colleges and universities that operate separate housing, recreation facilities or student centers on the basis of race.


The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.