Monday, August 26, 2013
Immigration Article of the Day: Intra-Group Diversity in Education: What If Abigail Fisher Were an Immigrant... by Dagmar Rita Myslinska
Abstract: Social and cultural capital enable students to more easily access and take advantage of higher education. By lacking access to the social capital of the dominant group, immigrants do not benefit from education on equal terms with those who belong to the norm. High school participation, college preparation, and involvement in college reflect and amplify access to social capital, particularly at elite universities. Colleges’ definition of “merit” in admissions decisions replicates inequalities in access to social capital. While scholars have noted how racial minorities and students of low socioeconomic status are disadvantaged in the educational system, they have overlooked how immigrant status per se limits access to social capital and its benefits. Affirmative-action discussions also tend to be racialized, even if they intersect with immigration-policy debates. In theory, admission preferences are based on the assumption that those not belonging to the dominant group are less effective in the competition for resources, such as education. At its core, this assumption should be defined to include any deficiency in access to social capital. By recontextualizing affirmative-action rhetoric in this way, all immigrants’ challenges can be more easily recognized. At the same time, all immigrants’ contribution to diversity -- the only justification for affirmative-action remaining after the recent decision in Fisher v. University of Texas -- could be more fully recognized, while increasing intra-group diversity. The intersection of whiteness and outsider jurisprudence, in the context of access to social capital, provides a better understanding of how intra-group diversity can be achieved in education, and how we can create a more integrated society, paving way for a more meaningful democracy.