Author: Russell K. Nieli

Russell K. Nieli is a Senior Preceptor in Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, and a Lecturer in Princeton's Politics Department. He is the author of "Wounds That Will Not Heal: Affirmative Action and Our Continuing Racial Divide."

Free speech censored

Princeton Takes a Stand for Free Speech on Campus

Much of the news regarding free speech on campus is enough to make anyone despair. Year after year more people and ideas are muzzled. But some very heartening news of late comes from Princeton. Due largely to a new book promoting free speech by Princeton University political scientist Keith Whittington and the unusual support and […]

Read More

Universities, Free Speech and the Rise of the Spit-Viper Left

Free speech on campuses has come on hard times. By now, we are all too familiar with the litany: invited speakers disinvited, talks by honored guests disrupted by shouting protesters, vandalism and riots forcing the cancellation of events, campus security announcing it cannot guarantee public safety. The disruptions and attacks come almost entirely from an […]

Read More

Explaining Black Rage on Campus and in the Inner-City

Many factors have been suggested to explain the explosion in Black protest and Black rage over the past two years on college campuses and in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Milwaukee: racist police, insensitive college administrators, bigoted White students, pervasive “micro-aggressions,” the stigma-creating effect of racial preference policies, among others. But most such factors fail […]

Read More
Charles Murray

Charles Murray Insulted but Allowed to Speak

The thought police are at it again. The latest confrontation is at Virginia Tech University at Blacksburg where the usual suspects — a coalition of black activists and white leftists — have called upon the university president to withdraw an invitation to Charles Murray, where he is scheduled to speak on March 25 at Tech’s […]

Read More

Fisher II: A Mystery Solved While Asians Get Their Voice

Many legal experts were surprised in June of 2013 when the U.S Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in the University of Texas affirmative action case, Fisher v. Texas. The mere fact that the Court had taken up the case when it could easily have declared it moot indicated to many that at least […]

Read More

Asian Americans Move Against Harvard

Several years ago a Korean student in one of my precept classes at Princeton told me of the shock and anger among Asian students at his expensive California private high school when college acceptance letters arrived in late spring.  What really stoked the anger of many of his Asian classmates, he said, was the fact […]

Read More

Princeton Takes a Stand on Free Speech

“Our university campuses are now islands of oppression in a sea of freedom.”—Abigail Thernstrom, 1990 So say many critics of our colleges, and, alas, in many cases correctly.  Here are the hallmarks of today’s college campus: The implementation of hate speech codes The stultifying strictures of political correctness The greatly expanded notions of verbal harassment […]

Read More

25 Years on the Affirmative Action Firing Line

Over the more than 25 years that I have been writing articles and giving talks critical of racial preferences at American universities, I think I have learned something about the contours of the public debate on this issue, especially as it pertains to the more selective institutions.  Here are four salient conclusions

Read More

Grade Inflation—Why Princeton Threw in the Towel

In my freshman year at Duke in the mid-1960s, C’s were still the most common grade in my courses, about equal to the total number of A’s and B’s combined.  In my first-semester freshman composition course, there were no A’s given, only two B’s, one or two D’s — and all the rest C’s.  The […]

Read More

Is Affirmative Action Really Doomed?

In a recent article in the New York Times (6/17/14), economic columnist David Leonhardt says that “affirmative action as we know it is probably doomed”. I wish I could be so confident.  Premature obituaries for affirmative action have been a periodic  feature of commentators and op-ed writers for three decades now (I foolishly engaged in […]

Read More

How UCLA Lies about Affirmative Action

As critics have noted for years, the affirmative action regime in America inevitably requires deception and untruthfulness from its operatives.  In his new book, Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA, Tim Groseclose gives us a rare glimpse into the covert racial preferences given at UCLA, where he is […]

Read More

How ‘Undermatching’ Harms Smart Low-Income Students

Most readers of Minding the Campus are well aware of the phenomenon of “mismatching” in colleges first brought to national attention in regard to African American students by Cornell economics professor Thomas Sowell in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Sowell showed that many of the black students at Cornell, who often had scores on national exams […]

Read More

Legacy Preferences Under Fire Again

Children of alumni have long enjoyed advantages in gaining admission to the most selective private colleges and universities in the United States–a practice rare in other nations and puzzling and unsavory to foreigners. If not as puzzling, legacy admissions are equally unsavory to many Americans, especially those who consider themselves “meritocrats” and those on the […]

Read More

Asians as the New Jews,
Jews as the New WASPs

Ron Unz’s cover story in the December American Conservative — “The Myth of American Meritocracy” — has generated an extraordinary level of commentary in popular magazines, op-ed pages and Internet blogs.  The article deals with the many non-meritocratic practices in the admissions policies of America’s most elite universities, especially the eight Ivy League institutions.   The […]

Read More

Justice Kennedy and Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court holds oral arguments tomorrow in Fisher v. Texas, possibly the most consequential case in years involving affirmative action. Many of us critics of racial preferences are optimistic that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote, will agree to modify if not overrule Justice O’Connor’s ruling in the 2003 Grutter case, which, in […]

Read More

Campus Diversity: Taking Allport Seriously

Some key questions are rarely asked about the success or failure of affirmative action programs on college campuses.  Among them are: Does ignorance foster negative racial stereotyping?  Does the greater opportunity for contact between people of diverse races and ethnicities brought about by “race-sensitive admissions” help prejudiced whites overcome their prejudice against blacks and other […]

Read More

Global Warming: The Campus Non-Debate

I do not want us to shut down economic drive to support false science, and on the other hand, I do not want to leave behind a scorched earth.  …. Let’s get the science right!  A better debate and research is needed by honest and believable scientists who study climate professionally. Richard Lindzen, Professor of […]

Read More

A Desperate Defense of Affirmative Action

The American Scholar is the official journal of the Phi Beta Kappa Society — the college honorary society– and like The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, its focus is highbrow and its writing quality generally of a high order.  Also like the Times and the NYRB, when dealing with current political […]

Read More

A Double Shock to Liberal Professors

Social psychology has long been a haven for left-wing scholars. Jonathan Haidt, one of  the best known and most respected young social psychologists, has heaved two bombshells at his field–one indicting it for effectively excluding conservatives (he is a liberal) and the other for what he sees as a jaundiced and cult-like opposition to religion […]

Read More

A Reluctant Vote for Legacies

Legacy preferences have come under increased scrutiny of late, as well they should. Most elite colleges and universities, including all the Ivies, grant legacy preferences, just as they all grant special consideration — and lowered admission standards — for recruited athletes, blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. They also give huge boosts to the sons and […]

Read More

Why Caltech Is in a Class by Itself

Older readers know how the leading American universities, which had risen to world-class status by the 1930s and 1940s, were upended by the traumatic campus events of the late 1960s and their aftermath. Riots and boycotts by student radicals, the decline in core curriculum requirements, the loss of nerve by university presidents and administrators, galloping […]

Read More

The Underperformance Problem

On average black students do much worse on the SAT and many other standardized tests than whites. While encouraging progress was made in the 1970s and early 1980s in improving black SAT scores and reducing the black/white test score gap, progress in this direction came to a halt by the early 1990s, and today the […]

Read More

How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others

When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to “diversity” you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that–at a minimum–is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half […]

Read More

Princeton’s Victory Over Grade Inflation

Grade inflation is one of those realities of the post-60s academic world that most college teachers bemoan but feel powerless to do anything about. It is virtually impossible for any single faculty member to do much to stem the tide of ever rising grade distributions. If a faculty member refuses to go along with the […]

Read More

Is There An Asian Ceiling?

Several years ago a Korean-American student in one of my politics classes at Princeton described the reaction of his Asian classmates in the California private school he attended when the college acceptance and rejection letters arrived in the mail the spring of their senior year. A female Black student, he explained, had applied to more […]

Read More