Monday, March 29, 2021
Rankings increasingly dominate our world. We use them to choose just about everything—from which pizza or ice cream to buy, to which doctors to trust with our health, to which universities to trust with our intellectual growth and flourishing. But should we trust them? Taking popular academic ranks as an example, such as the U.S. News ranks, this article contends not necessarily, for several reasons. First, because as this article argues, the U.S. News ranks may mislead rather than inform consumers. Second, by fueling a prestige battle between universities in which the ‘winner takes all’, the U.S. News ranks incentivizes universities to harm cultural and economic diversity—important facets of educational quality. These conclusions, critical in their own right, raise additional important but underexplored questions for antitrust law. Should universities be allowed to boycott the U.S. News ranks so that they can free themselves of the prestige battle in which they involuntarily participate? Can an ‘anti- rankings boycott’ be justified by antitrust law on the basis that it may allow universities to promote diversity and access to the underserved? Although these questions are not easy to address, they are at the heart of this article.