Realignment of College Rankings
Yale and Harvard’s scandalous chickens have come home to roost. Merit and reputation are the building blocks on which Ivy…
Yale and Harvard’s scandalous chickens have come home to roost.
Merit and reputation are the building blocks on which Ivy League schools have staked their storied and well-earned positions of prestige. Schools such as Yale and Harvard have had their images threatened by constantly being in the news for sordid affairs. Those scandalous chickens have come home to roost.
Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken announced via a blog post that Yale would no longer be participating in U.S. News & World Report’s Best National University Rankings, calling the ranking system “profoundly flawed.” She wrote that the for-profit ranking system “disincentivize[s] programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession. We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate.”
Harvard was quick to follow suit (within a few hours of Yale’s announcement, in fact). Harvard Law School Dean John Manning claimed, “It has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect.”
At first glance, their boycott seems to have some kernels of truth. There is evidence that U.S. News & World Report’s ranking system methodology can be manipulated to give schools better scores. Columbia University admitted it had doctored information it gave to U.S. News & World Report, causing its ranking to soar to No. 2. After Columbia admitted its meddling, its rank dropped to No. 18. Moreover, former Temple University Dean Richard J. Fox was sentenced to 14 months of prison time after being caught committing a fraud scheme to “artificially inflate” Temple’s rankings.
Suffice it to say, there is a lot of stock put in the quality of schools based on U.S. News and World Report’s school rankings. But Harvard and Yale unranking themselves ultimately comes across as a case of sour grapes. A deeper dive into the ins and outs of the issue merit an alternative consideration for their faltering rankings.
Yale has had to navigate some serious scandals this past year. In March, some of its students disrupted a panel, drowning out the conservatives on the bipartisan panel discussing civil liberties by yelling. This imbroglio by the students, as well as academic concerns, has led many judges to swear off hiring any law clerks from Yale. According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Between September and October, 14 federal judges, including James Ho of the 5th Circuit and Elizabeth Branch of the 11th Circuit, said they would no longer hire clerks from Yale Law School, citing concerns about free speech and intellectual diversity.”
That concern is echoed in a survey conducted by the William F. Buckley Program at Yale. It all points to the school churning out obedient little leftists whose ideology is set. Not very much diversity there.
As far as academics are concerned, Gerken let the cat out of the bag when she wrote: “Today, 20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs. While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses.” In other words, being able to admit students of color in quotas they deem good enough to keep their virtue-signaling book balanced is more important than the equal opportunity and merit the LSATs provide.
U.S. News and World Report puts a lot of stock in “peer assessment” and reputation. Yale, which is usually ranked No. 1 in reputation, took a slight tumble in March after it tolerated that stunt from its students. Its ranking dropped to a tie for third with Harvard and Stanford as a result.
For its part, Harvard is facing some negative public attention with regard to affirmative action. At the Supreme Court, Students for Fair Admissions is suing Harvard because of discrimination against white and Asian students in the admissions process. Harvard is attempting to argue the merits of racial preferences in admittance to the university as opposed to achievement, but the Supreme Court appears poised to strike it down.
As Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, pointed out: “The diversity that really produces benefit in education is diversity of opinion, and Harvard has virtually none. In the most recent annual survey that the Harvard Crimson does of the university faculty of Arts and Science, more than 80% self-identified as ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal.’ Only 1% self-identified as ‘conservative’ and zero as ‘very conservative.’”
Harvard and Yale are not the only schools to no longer participate in U.S. News & World Report’s Best National University Rankings. UC Berkley has also decided to unranked itself.
For these schools, this isn’t just a case of sour grapes; it’s an unwillingness to admit that when merit, achievement, and equal opportunity are thrown to the side, the quality of graduates suffers.