I got into medical school by pretending to be black: We must enforce Supremes’ ruling
07/10/2023 // News Editors // Views

The Supreme Court’s decision banning college admission based on race was a good first step, but the challenge now is to see that schools abide by it.

(Article by Vijay Jojo Chokal Ingam republished from NYPost.com)

Indeed, no sooner did the court rule than President Biden vowed not to let the decision “be the last word.”

I know firsthand why Americans should make sure it is.

Back in 1998, I knew my odds of getting into medical school, as an Indian American, would be better if I were black.

So, being dark-skinned, I pretended I was black — and got accepted, despite a mediocre 3.1 GPA.

Once there, though, I found the going rough and dropped out.

That made me realize that affirmative action doesn’t really do anyone any favors.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="598"]Vijay Jojo Chokal Ingam was able to get into medical school in 1998 despite having a lower GPA by pretending to be black. Vijay Jojo Chokal Ingam was able to get into medical school in 1998 despite having a lower GPA by pretending to be black.[/caption]

And it’s unfair to those who are excluded even though they were more deserving than those admitted on the basis of race.

Outside the courthouse in October, during deliberations in the recently decided case, I asked Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions (the plaintiff), about the potential consequences of a victory.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="588"]A person protesting against affirmative action outside of the Supreme Court building on June 29, 2023. A person protesting against affirmative action outside the Supreme Court on June 29, 2023.[/caption]

He replied with a twist on Winston Churchill’s famous words: It would be “the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.”

After the decision, colleges and universities displayed a range of reactions — from reluctant acceptance to outright defiance.

More than 100 colleges and universities, including the entire Ivy League, had filed amicus briefs backing Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s admission practices, which the court now deemed discriminatory.

These schools have collected tens of billions in taxpayer dollars and sent millions of rejection letters to applicants whose only fault may have been their race.

In the case against Harvard, SFFA’s attorneys unearthed the school’s use of “positive personality traits” as a guise for Harvard’s affirmative-action admission practices.

Theoretically, schools that had endorsed affirmative action could continue to cloak such discriminatory practices in defiance of the court.

They could employ stealthy, complex admissions algorithms that make it hard to identify their illegal scheme.

Gauging the sincerity of commitments to comply and scrap these practices will indeed be a formidable task.

Anyone hoping for colorblind admissions will need to support individual and class-action lawsuits against institutions that refuse to adopt race-neutral admission policies.

This means identifying victims of such biases, gathering expert testimony, subpoenaing relevant admissions data and enduring lengthy legal battles.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="568"]Chokal Ingam said his experience in medical schools turned him against affirmative action being used in admissions. Chokal Ingam said his experience in medical school turned him against affirmative action being used in admissions.[/caption]

They should not be afraid to threaten stiff financial penalties — via legal settlements or awards or new legislation — for defiance.

Former President Donald Trump has suggested consequences large enough to erode endowments. Though legislation or court settlements might not go as far he’d like, he’s got the right idea.

The local, state and federal government must all be involved: Scores of congressmen and virtually every major Republican presidential candidate publicly supported SFFA’s cause.

With the court’s ruling, these leaders can now move to withhold federal funding from the Department of Education, Department of Justice and the universities themselves if they fail to enforce the court’s ruling.

Officials might also look to devise additional punishments, for school officials and the schools themselves, including loss of accreditation, a powerful weapon.

Recall that, years ago, Bob Jones University lost its tax-exempt status due to its discriminatory policies.

Further back, Washington dispatched federal marshals to see that black students were allowed into schools like the University of Alabama.

Surely officials can come up with other ways, too, to enforce compliance and design a routine for regularly examining, supervising and auditing these institutions until this scourge is truly behind us.

I am hopeful that this is the beginning of the end of affirmative action.

I’m desperately crossing my fingers that we’re entering a new era, with nationwide lawsuits and civil rights campaigns dedicated to upholding race-neutral admissions policies when universities refuse to comply.

I’m encouraged not only by the Supreme Court’s ruling, but by the successful 2020 effort (in which I participated) to defeat California’s Prop. 16, which sought to allow affirmative action at California state institutions, including my beloved alma mater, UCLA.

Despite our staggering financial disadvantage, our efforts yielded a remarkable triumph, as 57% of voters sided with us.

These recent successes show that the nation is on the right track.

Americans will be better off when we no longer have to worry about legally sanctioned discrimination — against people of any race.

Read more at: NYPost.com

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