Joyce Vance Doesn’t Think Students Can Write an Essay on Adversity

News & Politics

Friday’s Morning Joe took to bemoaning the US Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance provided a bizarre criticism of the decision: seemingly arguing that minority students were literally incapable of writing essays about facing racial diversity.

Vance repeated the traditional leftist defense of affirmative action, that it was necessary to fix the damage caused by discrimination that happened in America’s past, but added a weird new angle to the argument.

In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts added a provision that colleges could keep some form of affirmative action by taking into account a student’s personal experience with race or discrimination in the form of an essay; however, Vance attacked that idea and claimed that students were in fact unable to write essays about these topics.

Vance claimed that:

“That imposes an awfully strong burden on your average 17 or 18-year-old writing their college application. And instead of permitting colleges and universities when they make admissions decisions to look at factors that contribute to stronger communities in these academic institutions, it places the burden back on individuals who, frankly, may or may not be able to carry that forward.”

So, college applicants were apparently not capable of writing essays. This was in fact, completely false.

This writer writer can attest to the fact that college admissions essays have long included essays on the applications prior to this SCOTUS decision, and those essays were often required to be on the topic of overcoming personal adversity in life.

It also begged the question, why did Vance think students are too stupid and incapable to write an essay? Did she think all students were too stupid to write an essay about personal experiences? Or was she referring to black students, who primarily benefit from affirmative action? If so, then her implication that the black community was illiterate was flagrantly racist and should be condemned.

Vance was then surprisingly contested by Joe Scarborough, who questioned her on what to say to Asian-Americans who were the victims of open discrimination in affirmative action. Her response was little more than word soup that effectively meant Asian Americans should deal with it.

She said that Scarborough’s question was “smart comments” but dismissed the issue because of “how difficult and nuanced of a problem this is.” She then likened affirmative action to Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark court case that repealed segregation, which was a wild exaggeration. The idea that black people could not go to college at all without affirmative action was laughable, and again, quite racist on Vance’s part.

MSNBC has once again demonstrated just how out of touch and out of reality they were, and Joyce Vance’s rant on how students cannot write an essay showed the liberal media bubble knew nothing of what students have gone through in the college admissions process.

MSNBC’s illogical take was sponsored by Consumer Cellular and Skechers. Their contact information is linked.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

MSNBC’s Morning Joe


6:22 AM ET 


JOYCE VANCE: Right. So the legal argument, there’s a constitutional basis engaged here for saying that these programs that give a bump up to minority applicants have to come to an end and they have to come to an end now.  Unfortunately, that opinion ignores some of the basic realities of the world that we live in and Justice Jackson’s dissent does an impeccable job of pointing that out. 

She says, in essence, the Chief Justice tries to decide by fiat that discrimination, that racial discrimination has come to an end in America, so there’s no longer any need for these affirmative action programs. You know, we hear an echo here of Justice Roberts’ decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the voting rights case. Where ten years ago, he said, “there’s no longer any reason to have concern about racial discrimination in voting - these old statistics about low registration and low turnout among black voters, they no longer tell the story.”

 And of course, history has proven that that opinion was dramatically shortsighted. That in fact, we do have problems that continue to pervade the ability of black people to vote in America and that that decision made it worse, not better. I fear that that’s the outcome of the short-sighted analysis in these cases, where the Chief Justice says, in essence, this opinion puts a burden on black applicants and other minority applicants to write an essay that says, “Hey, take a look at me. I’ve overcome diversity.” 

And the Court says that this sort of limited individualized factor can be considered. That imposes an awfully strong burden on your average 17 or 18-year-old writing their college application. And instead of permitting colleges and universities when they make admissions decisions to look at factors that contribute to stronger communities in these academic institutions, it places the burden back on individuals who, frankly, may or may not be able to carry that forward. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Joyce, I agree. I certainly agree with you and share your concerns. I do wonder, what’s your response not just to the majority’s facts they put forward about Asian Americans being discriminated against, but Asian-Americans that talk about their children being discriminated against. Asian-American students saying, ”We are being discriminated against because this is a zero sum game.” If you plus up one demographic group, you’re going to subtract from another. 

And time and time again, it’s been Asian-Americans, certainly over the last decade. Of course, you look at Asian-Americans who have not – who faced a different kind of discrimination, but from internment camps, just absolutely horrific treatment throughout the years, this isn’t exactly a demographic group who has been embraced throughout American history. So, what do you say to Asian-American students and Asian-American parents this morning who say, “Okay, finally, my kids are going to get an equal chance and stop being minused, stop being zeroed out on the personality scores because of affirmative action?”

VANCE: So, Joe, I think your comments are smart comments, and they point to how difficult and nuanced of a problem this is. Because when you talk about college admissions, it’s inherently a zero sum game. Some students are admitted, other students are not admitted. And the central question here is whether there’s a legitimate interest that survives strict scrutiny in ensuring that black students are admitted, that the historic impacts of slavery and of discrimination don’t continue into the modern era. And although that’s tough in some ways when you look across the groups, what we have to do is have legal rules that permit universities to make decisions that benefit the future. 

I don’t mean to pretend that these decisions are any more easy or simple than they are, but the fact of the matter is, that when you look at the law in this area, not just cases about affirmative action like Bakke, but when you go back to Brown v. Board of Education. And when you think about whether there’s a legitimate interest in ensuring that black students can go to college, that disadvantages can be taken in account of by universities, which, when you think about it, what doing, right, they’re on some occasions giving some applicants a bump up because of their background. Other students get those bump ups, too. 


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