“Erica Curtis, a former admissions evaluator at Brown University in the United States, has noted that she evaluated each student’s application consisting of standardised test scores, the transcript, the personal statement, and multiple supplemental essays within a twelve-minute timeframe.1 Arguably, this is a very short period of time within which an admissions officer can evaluate the applicant’s personality and academic qualities holistically.2 The time constraints create a possibility that the admissions officer may fail to detect the applicants’ capabilities or how societal barriers diminished their ability to realise their potential. Another concern with human decision-making is that the decision-maker officer may act arbitrarily in the course of exercising discretion3 by putting different weight on comparable attributes that cannot be measured.
“The societal frame of the “economically disadvantaged” is rooted in a distinction between a conceptual status of equality and the actuality of discrimination and disadvantage. This paradigm provides the governing logic for both criticism and justification of the status quo. This Article questions whether and to what extent this equality/antidiscrimination logic has lost its effectiveness as a critical tool and what, if anything, should be the foundation of the rationale that supplements or even replaces it.
The theme of this Article for the SMU Law Review Forum focuses us on the challenges faced by the “economically disadvantaged” in the past decade and in the future. This framing is rooted in a distinction between that conceptual status of equality and the actuality of discrimination and disadvantage. This is the lens through which contemporary legal culture tends to assess the nature and effect of existing laws and determines the necessary direction of reform. As such, this paradigm provides the governing logic for both criticism and justification of the status quo. It is rooted in an understanding of the significance of the human being and a belief in their fundamental parity under law that also asserts the inherent value of individual liberty and autonomy, and thus is skeptical of state intervention into the “private” sphere of life.