The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced in Annapolis recently that "diversity is the number one priority" at the Naval Academy.Fleming's accusation has sparked widespread debate. I haven't examined the admissions data; still, I wonder why preserving the world's strongest Navy ever could slip to priority two.
The Naval Academy superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, echoed him. Everyone understands that "diversity" here means nonwhite skins.
Fowler insisted recently that we needed to have Annapolis graduates who "looked like" the Fleet, where enlisted people are about 42 percent nonwhite, largely African American and Hispanic.
The stunning revelation last week was that the Naval Academy had an incoming class that was "more diverse" than ever before: 35 percent minority.
Sounds good, only this comes with a huge price tag. It's taxpayers who bankroll the military. Yet nobody has asked us if we're willing to pay this price. Instead we're being told there is no price to pay at all. If you believe that, you probably also believe in the Tooth Fairy.
A "diverse" class does not mean the Naval Academy recruits violinists, or older students (they can't be 23 on Induction Day), or gay people (who are thrown out) or foreign students (other than the dozen or so sent by client governments).
It means applicants checked a box on their application that says they are Hispanic, African American, Native American, and now, since my time on the Admissions Board of the Academy, where I've taught for 22 years, Asians.
Midshipmen are admitted by two tracks. White applicants out of high school who are not also athletic recruits typically need grades of A and B and minimum SAT scores of 600 on each part for the Board to vote them "qualified." Athletics and leadership also count.
A vote of "qualified" for a white applicant doesn't mean s/he's coming, only that he or she can compete to win the "slate" of up to 10 nominations that (most typically) a Congress(wo)man draws up. That means that nine "qualified" white applicants are rejected. SAT scores below 600 or C grades almost always produce a vote of "not qualified" for white applicants.
Not so for an applicant who self-identifies as one of the minorities who are our "number one priority." For them, another set of rules apply. Their cases are briefed separately to the board, and SAT scores to the mid-500s with quite a few Cs in classes (and no visible athletics or leadership) typically produce a vote of "qualified" for them, with direct admission to Annapolis. They're in, and are given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.