My experience as both a student (at Harvard, USC and UCLA) and a teacher (at UCLA) confirms William Bowen and Derek Bok’s contention that diversity in higher education as achieved through affirmative action benefits all students (Commentary, Sept. 23). Students benefit from living with, learning from and befriending those whose life experiences are vastly different from their own. These interactions provide a deeper and more complex understanding of the world than even the most well-taught course in a homogenous environment could offer. Affirmative action has also created another level of diversity: We now have more integrated curricula as well as more integrated student bodies, faculty and staff.
White kids today get a better, fuller education than white kids did 20 or 30 years ago, because of affirmative action. Affirmative action programs benefit everybody.
It is white women who have benefited most directly and substantially in affirmative action programs. Ironically, this very success seems to blind many people today to the importance of decades of affirmative action for white women. When proponents of affirmative action focus primarily on race in articulating their position, they ignore the greatest test case/success story of such programs.