Yale is quite proud of itself because its class of 2016 ” is the most racially diverse in the University’s history.”

So, how “diverse” is Yale? It depends on how you count.

The official racial breakdown of the class of 2016 — as reported by Yale to the federal government — is 16.8 percent Asian, 7.1 percent black, 10.4 percent Hispanic, 0.9 percent Native American and 5.4 percent multiracial. While students in past years could only select one racial or ethnic category on application forms, the Department of Education established new reporting guidelines in 2011 that ask students first whether they identify as Hispanic/Latino, and then ask students to check boxes for all other racial categories with which they identify.

[Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey] Brenzel said his office is also reporting diversity statistics without the multiracial category in order to “understand the real diversity represented in the class” — counting students toward each group they marked on their forms. According to that methodology, the class of 2016 is 20.2 percent Asian, 9.4 percent black, 10.4 percent Hispanic and 2.7 percent Native American, he said. By comparison, Harvard’s freshman class is 22.6 percent Asian, 9.4 percent black, 9.3 percent Hispanic and 1.7 percent Native or Hawaiian-American, the Harvard Crimson reported.

“If a matriculating student were to self-identify as Latina and Native American, they [sic] would have been reported as Hispanic [under the new federal guidelines] but as both Hispanic and Native American in the second set of numbers,” Brenzel explained. “Similarly, if a student has self-identified as Asian and black, they [sic] would have been reported as multiracial to [the government] but reported as both Asian and black in the second set.”

It would be interesting to hear why Yale believes that multiracial students provide less “real diversity” than single-race or ethnicity students. It would also be interesting to hear whether it imposes any limits on the number of times it will count a single student. If, for example, based on the identity of his four grandparents a student self-identifies as black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American, does Yale count that student in all four of those categories? In any event Yale’s method of counting minorities, aka measuring “diversity,” seems to result in numbers that are more exaggerated than “real.”

Finally, let me offer a modest but serious proposal: Yale, Harvard, et al., using whatever “holistic” camouflage they choose, should limit the number of blacks and Hispanics they admit in the same fashion that they no doubt already do for Asians.

I doubt that the Ivy League institutions would be willing to release information such as entering SAT scores broken down by race (I know that in the past Stanford has refused to do so), but I suspect that the most selective institutions do not have to lower their standards much or even at all to attract numbers of minorities like those reported above. By sucking up a very large proportion of the most highly qualified minorities, however, they force second and third tier institutions to lower their standards dramatically for minorities (albeit no doubt doing so “holistically”), thereby setting up the “mismatch” that leads disproportionate numbers of those preferentially admitted minorities to cluster in the bottom of their classes and dropout more often, as well as reinforcing racial stereotypes of minorities as less qualified than their peers in other groups. At those institutions, in fact, that is a reality, not a stereotype.

Since they are all true believers in “race conscious” affirmative action, these selective institutions can have no principled equal protection objection to using race (as “one factor,” of course) to limit the numbers of blacks and Hispanics, and  it is well documented that they impose higher standards (“holistically,” of course) on their Asian applicants. Nor could any of the rejected minorities offer principled objections to their race or ethnicity being used against them unless they had objected to it being used to help them by refusing to check the race or ethnicity boxes on application materials — in which case, of course, it would be impossible for the institutions to take those factors into account in rejecting them. Indeed, if minority applicants recognized that their race or ethnicity could be used against as well as for them, they might discover some hitherto unappreciated virtues of “without regard” colorblindness.

If the most selective institutions in the country (the academic equivalent of the 1%) so strongly believe that the nation requires the continuation of race-based “diversity,” they should pay their fair share by relinquishing their greedy near monopoly of the most valuable raw materials on which what they regard as “real diversity” is based.