The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

What do Elite Universities Mean by "Diversity?"


At oral argument in the recent affirmative action cases, attorneys for the defendants argued that although they do ask applicants to check a racial/ethnic box, they do not limit their consideration of diversity just to those classifications, but also to religion, ideology, and other aspects of identity that affect viewpoint. (For example, Mr. Waxman for Harvard: "Harvard greatly values religious diversity.") That's what they tell the courts. Here, however, is how Yale Law School describes its upcoming "Diversity Homecoming:"

Please join us for Yale Law School's Diversity Homecoming, a two-day event in New Haven that fosters a dialogue on diversity among the YLS community.

The programming in New Haven, spanning Friday evening through Saturday evening, will feature remarks by Dean Heather Gerken, alumni and faculty presentations, and opportunities to engage with Yale Law School student affinity groups, including the Asian Pacific American Law Students' Association; the Black Law Students' Association; Latinx Law Students' Association; the Middle Eastern and North African Law Students' Association; the Native American Law Students' Association; and the South Asian Law Students' Association.

In a development that should surprise no one, YLS does not include religious or ideological groups in their list of student groups that contribute to diversity. Of course, Yale Law School isn't UNC or Harvard, the defendants in the case. And Yale does include the South Asian and MENA groups, for which there are no boxes on application forms. But I think we all know that Yale Law's narrow view of the sort diversity that contributes to the university experience is shared by other elite educational institutions.