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Class Rules: the Fiction of Egalitarian Higher Education

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, July 25, 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court's momentous rulings affirming the constitutionality of affirmative action in college admissions promise to institutionalize, well into the foreseeable future, the role of race in creating an equitable society. For various reasons, not the least of which is the uniquely American notion that we are an utterly mobile nation of individuals, unfettered by the strictures that have plagued other societies, "class" has become something of a dirty word in most recent discussions about equal opportunity in admissions. Bright-eyed American optimism of recent decades has played down the harsh realities of our nation's class division in higher education and society at large. Our schools, colleges, and universities, Americans fondly believe, are the great equalizers of social and economic inequality, not institutions that reflect and legitimize inequalities.