I stumbled across an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education this morning called “Under Fire From Lawmakers, a Flagship Tries to Explain Why Diversity Matters.” Articles at the Chronicle are often behind a paywall, but don’t fret if you can’t get to the article; it didn’t really explain why diversity matters anyway, which is what I was hoping to hear. Likely because of the recency of Scalia’s death, this reminded me of the recent oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas (an affirmative action case). Scalia’s comment about minorities doing better at lower-ranked schools was pretty awful, but I found myself agreeing with him, or at least sharing his frustration, during a line of questioning by John Roberts. Roberts asked, “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?…I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation.” The question itself was criticized in the blogosphere, but I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s actually a great question, and great opportunity to defend affirmative action. What killed me was the answer, what was missing from the answer.

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