A Naval Academy professor and former admissions official has blown the whistle on the Navy’s diversity admissions program. He contends there is one set of academic standards for white applicants and another one for minorities. He says,“First of all, we’re dumbing down the Naval Academy. . . Second of all, we’re dumbing down the officer corps.” And he’s got some data on his side: “The share of plebes who scored less than 600 on the SAT math test was 22 percent this year, up from 12 percent in the Class of 2008. The number of freshmen coming from the academy’s one-year preparatory program, designed for remedial studies, was 244 this year, the highest figure in at least 10 years.”
Some careful non-denial denials by the Navy raise further suspicions. When the Navy’s defenders say they still think the admissions process would pass “constitutional muster,” that is diversity-speak for “We do it, but not so blatantly that we couldn’t defend ourselves in court.”
Truth be told, the constitutional standard is very “weak.” Public schools can employ race preferences so long as they hide it in a fog of flowery language. They “look at the whole student.” Race and ethnicity are only “one of many factors.” So I have no doubt the Navy employs lawyers smart enough to keep the Academy out of legal peril. But the professor’s observations also ring true and suggest that even in the Navel Academy “merit” isn’t what it used to be — and isn’t the same for all the midshipmen.