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first 10-2 season. Coach Deboer first year coach is a Godsend to turn the dogs into the Dawgs!!!

After brilliant Apple Cup outing, Michael Penix Jr. has secured his status among Husky legends

Nov. 27, 2022 at 1:20 am Updated Nov. 27, 2022 at 1:29 am

Kalen DeBoer celebrates with Michael Penix Jr. after the Huskies defeated the Cougars in the annual Apple Cup game. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Kalen DeBoer celebrates with Michael Penix Jr. after the Huskies defeated the Cougars in the annual Apple Cup game. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

 

By 

Larry Stone  

Seattle Times columnist

PULLMAN — He came to Washington as a mystery, an unknown quantity, full of promise and just as many questions.

He’ll leave — whenever that happens, but ruefully to Husky fans, it may be sooner than later — as a bona fide legend.

Michael Penix Jr. assured his mythological status in the historical realm of UW quarterbacks, even if it’s a one year-and-done tenure, in the most unambiguous and time-honored fashion: By rising to absolute brilliance in the two games that mean the most to those who favor purple.

Penix, who had already dazzled in a heated win over Oregon two weeks ago, was just as majestic in a frenetic, rousing and hard-earned 51-33 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup on Saturday night.

APPLE CUP HUSKIES 51, COUGARS 33

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. runs in a touchdown past Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks after receiving a pass from Jalen McMillan in the second quarter as the Washington Huskies played the Washington State Cougars in Pac-12 Football Saturday, November 26, 2022 at Martin Stadium, in Pullman, WA.  222254

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That’s why delirious Husky fans surrounded Penix after the game and began to chant, “Heisman! Heisman! Heisman.” That segued seamlessly into a new chant: “One more year! One more year! One more year!”  

Afterward, Penix grinned and said, “That just shows they have a lot of trust in me,” before pre-emptively sidestepping the unasked question about whether he will turn pro after the season — an increasingly likely scenario as his credentials mount and he keeps adding more and more pro-caliber throws to his scouting tape.

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“I just go out there and play my game and have fun,’’ he said. “Whatever happens as far as that, that’s out of my control. If they (fans) feel like that, I guess you could say it’s a good thing. It’s definitely not a bad thing. But I’m just trying to win football games.”

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=StoneLarry&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfdGltZWxpbmVfbGlzdCI6eyJidWNrZXQiOlsibGlua3RyLmVlIiwidHIuZWUiLCJ0ZXJyYS5jb20uYnIiLCJ3d3cubGlua3RyLmVlIiwid3d3LnRyLmVlIiwid3d3LnRlcnJhLmNvbS5iciJdLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdGltZWxpbmVfMTIwMzQiOnsiYnVja2V0IjoidHJlYXRtZW50IiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd190d2VldF9lZGl0X2JhY2tlbmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib24iLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3JlZnNyY19zZXNzaW9uIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6Im9uIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd19jaGluX3BpbGxzXzE0NzQxIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6ImNvbG9yX2ljb25zIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd190d2VldF9yZXN1bHRfbWlncmF0aW9uXzEzOTc5Ijp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6InR3ZWV0X3Jlc3VsdCIsInZlcnNpb24iOm51bGx9LCJ0Zndfc2Vuc2l0aXZlX21lZGlhX2ludGVyc3RpdGlhbF8xMzk2MyI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJpbnRlcnN0aXRpYWwiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2V4cGVyaW1lbnRzX2Nvb2tpZV9leHBpcmF0aW9uIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6MTIwOTYwMCwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd19kdXBsaWNhdGVfc2NyaWJlc190b19zZXR0aW5ncyI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJvbiIsInZlcnNpb24iOm51bGx9LCJ0ZndfdmlkZW9faGxzX2R5bmFtaWNfbWFuaWZlc3RzXzE1MDgyIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6InRydWVfYml0cmF0ZSIsInZlcnNpb24iOm51bGx9LCJ0Zndfc2hvd19ibHVlX3ZlcmlmaWVkX2JhZGdlIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6Im9uIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH0sInRmd190d2VldF9lZGl0X2Zyb250ZW5kIjp7ImJ1Y2tldCI6Im9uIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1596773901874651136&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.seattletimes.com%2Fsports%2Fuw-husky-football%2Fafter-brilliant-apple-cup-outing-michael-penix-jr-has-secured-his-status-among-husky-legends%2F&sessionId=cf9012d288b2f21b60ff9dd96e4f79ae46c8d3a4&siteScreenName=seattletimes&theme=light&widgetsVersion=a3525f077c700%3A1667415560940&width=550px

On a day in which the Huskies racked up 703 total yards of offense, had two receivers over 100 yards (Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan) with another, Ja’Lynn Polk, knocking on the door with 82, plus a 126-yard rushing effort by Wayne Taulapapa, Penix obviously wasn’t a one-man show.

But if you want to pinpoint the biggest reason that the Huskies have made an astonishing turnaround from last year’s 4-8 debacle that was capped with a lopsided Apple Cup loss, you need look no further than the arrival of Penix as a transfer from Indiana.

Well, the hiring of Kalen DeBoer was huge, too, but on the field, it was Penix more than anyone else who made the Huskies soar, quite possibly into a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Penix on Saturday completed 25 of 43 passes for 485 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for two more scores. One of his few disappointments of the night, in fact, was learning for the first time that the seeming double-pass from McMillan that resulted in a 30-yard Penix touchdown was not ruled to be a pass at all, but rather a lateral and thus officially a rush. Both Penix and McMillan were incredulous when they heard about that ruling in the postgame interviews, Penix believing he had a receiving touchdown and McMillan thinking he had thrown a TD pass.

Penix wasn’t perfect — a third-quarter interception in the end zone from the 11 when Washington was driving for a touchdown that would have eased the considerable tension of what to that point was a taut, back-and-forth game, eliminated that characterization.

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But in what has become typical Penix fashion, he came right back after an ill-advised throw and led a vital scoring drive. It featured a 41-yard strike to Polk (to go along with a 47-yard TD pass to Odunze in the second quarter, and an electrifying 78-yard TD to McMillan on the very first play of the second half, among a slew of big strikes).

“I mean, he just keeps coming back,’’ DeBoer said. “Nothing, as far as the situation that you’re in, really fazes him. Even coming out and the first ball of the third quarter, that’s not an easy throw, back across his body, kind of rolling out to the left and firing all the way across and putting it right where it needed to be for Jalen to be able to finish and get a touchdown.

“He just keeps fighting, keeps playing. I know there’s probably a throw he’d like to have back. And that’s part of it. But we can see the response. He continues to do it over and over again, all season long. I mean, he’s one of the best. He’s one of the best out there in the country. And there’s so much belief from the team’s end. He was the one that broke us down going into the fourth quarter and was so passionate. You can tell he’s giving everything he’s got every play.”

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It had been a dazzling first half, full of trickery, audacity, and big play after big play as UW clung to a 28-27 lead at intermission.

The two teams combined for 630 yards of offense — a respectable amount for a full game that was jampacked into one half of action, complete with all sorts of heroic offensive showcases, and an extremely limited amount of defense.

There were shovel passes, long passes and punter passes. There was amazing and repeated displays of escapability by Cougar quarterback Cameron Ward, who was on the verge of being sacked time and again yet managed to wiggle and squirm out of danger, usually turning the near-disaster into some sort of backbreaking gain by WSU.

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You want a fake punt that turns into a 36-yard completion? WSU did that. You want a pass from Penix to McMillan, then back to Penix, who bolted 30 yards for a touchdown? Check. You want not one, not two, not three, but four fourth-down conversions by the Cougars? Check, quadrupled. The only thing they were short on were punts (one by each team) and stops (you just needed one hand to count them).

Somewhere along the line, it became apparent that an epic shootout was in the works. But DeBoer said he had confidence that the Huskies were going to be the superior second­-half team, based on track record, and that played out with a vastly improved Washington defensive performance in the second half. Only two key turnovers in WSU territory kept the game close before the Huskies pulled away in the fourth quarter.

It was Penix at the forefront, just as he had been in a 408-yard, two-touchdown performance in Eugene. If you lead road victories against your two most heated rivals in a double-digit win season, it stamps you for program immortality, no matter how brief your stay.

“Man, it was amazing,’’ Penix said. “Rivalry games, they’re usually close games, real tough games. Every college football game is tough, but it’s just something about rivalry games. There’s a lot of tension building up to it. We just had to make sure we weathered the storm, controlled our emotion, and just went out and played free and executed at a high level. Once we did that, it was over.”

It may be that the Penix era at Washington will soon be over, with one high-profile bowl game left to enhance his legacy. But the body of work he’s already established will live on.

By winning an all-time Apple Cup shootout, Huskies become an all-time team

Nov. 26, 2022 at 11:27 pm Updated Nov. 27, 2022 at 12:45 am

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. runs in a touchdown past Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks after receiving a pass from Jalen McMillan in the second quarter as the Washington Huskies played the Washington State Cougars in Pac-12 Football Saturday, November 26, 2022 at Martin Stadium, in Pullman, WA. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. runs in a touchdown past Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks after receiving a pass from Jalen McMillan in the second quarter as the Washington Huskies played the Washington State… (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)More 

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By 

Matt Calkins 

Seattle Times columnist

PULLMAN — Players will always tell you they want it easy. They’ll say they prefer to sail instead of stress — to dominate from the start instead of pulling away in the final quarter. 

But legacies aren’t born out of coasting or cruising. They’re formed by enduring blow after blow and responding in ways their fans simply can’t forget. That’s what the Huskies exemplified Saturday night by beating Washington State 51-33 Saturday night. More significantly, it’s what they exemplified all season. 

They are the embodiment of what it means to bounce back, and in winning one of the all-time great Apple Cups, solidified their place as one of the all-time great Washington teams. 

“I have pointed out to players from the beginning of the week, and even touched on it a little bit last week, how winning 10 games is not easy,” Huskies first-year coach Kalen DeBoer said. “Even in our great program’s tradition and history, there’s only been a few select teams over the 100 plus years. We’ve done that. It’s been a special year.” 

There were a number of UW drives in which even the slightest lapse of focus could have ceded the momentum to the relentless Cougs, but those lapses rarely came. Behind a herculean effort from quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who finished 25 of 43 for 485 yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing TDs, UW (10-2, 7-2 in the Pac-12) survived to reach a double-digit victory total one year after going 4-8.

APPLE CUP HUSKIES 51, COUGARS 33

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. runs in a touchdown past Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks after receiving a pass from Jalen McMillan in the second quarter as the Washington Huskies played the Washington State Cougars in Pac-12 Football Saturday, November 26, 2022 at Martin Stadium, in Pullman, WA.  222254

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The No. 12 Huskies now have a strong chance to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl, which seemed borderline unfathomable before the season began. So celebrate, Husky Nation —your team just proved to the country that it’s among the nation’s best.

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In fact, celebrate as much as you can now — because that game likely took 20 years off your life.

The first half was the epitome of entertainment, even if it momentarily served as the death of defense. Washington and Washington State combined for just two punts through the opening 30 minutes, scoring on nearly every opportunity — albeit in contrasting manners. 

The Huskies were the heavyweights throwing haymakers, overwhelming the Cougs (7-5, 4-5) on each possession. Trailing 3-0 early in the quarter? Washington found the end zone on a four-play, 44-yard drive that ended with Penix connecting with Ja’Lynn Polk on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Trailing 10-7 later in that frame? The Huskies found the end zone on a seven-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Penix hitting Rome Odunze for a 47-yard TD. 

Trailing 17-14 in the second quarter? UW went 75 yards on four plays — this drive ending with Penix taking a backward pass from Jalen McMillan 30 yards to the end zone. And down 24-21 with less than two minutes in the second quarter, Penix capped an eight-play, 83-yard drive with a four-yard scoring run. 

By halftime, the Huskies had accumulated a ridiculous 326 yards on an even more ridiculous 10.2 yards per play (including 18.6 yards per completion). And yet they led only 28-27 due to a WSU team that survived as much on will as it did skill. 

The Cougars didn’t overwhelm Washington in the first half Saturday. They exhausted them with jab after jab and uncanny fourth-down fortitude. Down 4 and facing a fourth-and-1 on their own 34 in the first quarter, WSU punter Nick Haberer completed a 36-yard-pass to linebacker Daiyan Henley — extending a drive that had a second fourth-down conversion and ended with a Wazzu touchdown.

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Facing a fourth-and-10 from Washington’s 34 on the ensuing drive, Cougs quarterback Cameron Ward found receiver Robert Ferrel for a touchdown to put his team back up by three. And facing a fourth-and-7 from Washington’s 34 one drive later, Ward completed a 14-yard pass to De’Zhaun Stribling that set up a touchdown two plays later. 

Four fourth downs, four conversions — all adding up to 21 points. No surprise that Washington State averaged more than four yards less than Washington per play in the opening two quarters en route to its 304 first-half yards. The Cougs just kept responding — just not as well as the Huskies. 

“I mean our bond as an offense is so tight. We can really go through anything together,” McMillan said. “We always just lean on each other.”

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Peak leaning came on the first play of the second half, when Penix connected with McMillan for a 75-yard TD pass to put UW by eight. Unsurprisingly, the Cougs answered and continued needling Washington. 

They forced a fumble and scored a touchdown to make it 35-33 after a failed two-point conversion. Then they intercepted Penix in the WSU end zone.

But despite their fight, they couldn’t match the Huskies might, as Washington eventually pulled away in the final 15 minutes. Valiant effort for WSU, but the victorious effort was Washington’s.

There will be plenty that the Huskies regret this year — particularly that seven-point loss to Arizona State midway through the season. But there won’t be much they forget — and what they did Saturday will be etched in their and their fans’ minds for a lifetime.

FASTING

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What is 16:8 Intermittent Fasting?

16:8 is a form of time-restricted feeding* (TRF) that involves fasting for 16 hours and eating all of your calories within an 8-hour window. It is one of the most popular forms of time-restricted feeding (TRF), likely because it’s manageable enough to make it a daily practice. Just like all other forms of fasting, 16:8 is not a diet. Instead, it is a pattern of eating – it’s the “when” independent of the “what.”

*TRF is defined as an eating pattern that restricts all caloric intake to certain hours of the day and allows a daily fast of at least 12 hours.

What are the benefits of 16:8?

Circadian Alignment

Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles of hormones and other signals within the body largely governed by the brain’s central clock in response to the light/dark cycles of the sun. Even under constant light or dark conditions, however, the same rhythms will fluctuate on a 24-hour (or near-24 hour) schedule. So what are the other inputs that keep our clock functioning on this schedule? One major factor is when we eat. When we eat out of alignment with our circadian rhythm, for example, in the middle of the night when our body is not expecting food, digestion, absorption of nutrients, and metabolism can be compromised, interrupting the natural ebb and flow of signals that tell your body to rest and repair. A consistent 16:8 fasting/feeding pattern that overlaps with our sleep/wake cycles aligns the nutrient signals with the light signals to keep your biological clock finely tuned. Ultimately, this enhances the robustness of our circadian biology, which offers several health benefits ranging from better sleep and digestion, to glucose control, brain health, and so much more.

Weight loss

Eating within an 8-hour window can be a great weight loss strategy because it can support a natural caloric deficit without forcing you to think too much about limiting calories. We often don’t even register the calories we consume from late-night snacks or beverages, but they can add up over time! By sticking to an 8-hour eating window that prevents these tendencies, daily caloric intake is often reduced, resulting in the potential for fat loss and improved body composition.

Anti-Aging and Disease Prevention

Over the course of the 4 -16 hours that follow your last bite of food, blood glucose levels fall, insulin slowly drops, and liver glycogen depletes as your liver churns out glucose to keep your blood sugar levels stable. At the same time, low insulin levels permit the release of stored body fat, so the body starts prioritizing fat for fuel. Depending on what you ate before your fast, your activity level, your metabolic health, and body composition, you may even start generating small amounts of ketones toward the end of this 16-hour window as a result of revving up fatty acid metabolism. This transition to burning fat reminds your cells each day what it’s like to burn something other than glucose, and over time, our cells adapt to burning fat in ways that promote greater metabolic flexibility and healthier mitochondria. Since emerging research suggests that healthy mitochondria and metabolic flexibility are protective against a series of chronic diseases – in part due to their association with reduced inflammation, reduced oxidative stress, and improved glucose levels – daily 16-hour fasts may be a practical way to promote better metabolic health, and in turn slow aging.

Gut health

The interior of our GI tract – often called the “gut lining” – is a single layer of cells, making it very vulnerable to damage. When this lining is impaired, pathogens can find a way through to our bloodstream, triggering an immune response and ultimately generating inflammation. Fasting for 16 hours a day gives the gut time to rest and repair itself from a hard day of work, likely improving the integrity of the gut lining and reducing inflammation in the gut. Eating on a consistent TRF schedule also supports the circadian rhythm of the gut (yes, the gut microbiome has a clock too!), collectively, promoting better gut health.

Special Considerations for 16:8

Intermittent fasting of any type is not recommended for those with higher nutritional needs, such as children, people who are underweight, and/or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Beyond these exceptions, a 16:8 eating schedule is a very safe style of intermittent fasting – 8 hours should be plenty of time to consume the nutrition your body needs without any adverse side-effects. Below are a couple of special considerations to avoid any potential complications with 16:8.

Be mindful of Calorie intake

Those with higher caloric needs and/or those who are not looking to lose weight may need to make a conscious effort to meet their nutritional requirements. Because a 16:8 TRF can support a spontaneous caloric deficit, there’s a chance you could find yourself in a situation where you are undereating daily. It is essential that you still consume adequate nutrition each day, just within your 8-hour feeding window, and not drop calories to the point that you are experiencing symptoms of under-fueling (e.g., fatigue, impaired athletic performance, etc.). 

Athletic Performance

Athletes can derive plenty of benefits from 16:8, especially when body composition contributes to their performance. This might seem obvious, but performance athletes generally have a higher caloric need than the rest of us mere mortals, so they need to be especially cognizant of caloric intake. Those with athletic goals may also need to adjust their eating window to optimize performance. Ideally, training takes place just before breaking your fast or within your eating window to support recovery needs, especially if building muscle and strength is your goal.

When should you eat on 16:8?

Far and away, the most popular 16:8 schedule involves skipping breakfast and starting an eating window around lunchtime, for example, 11AM – 7PM or 12PM – 8PM. This leaves room for dinner, which is typically the most social meal of the day and not the easiest to skip. That said, if you enjoy breakfast, and prefer an early dinner, opt for that. There may be even greater benefits to an earlier eating window often called “early TRF” or “eTRF”. In general, it’s best to eat somewhere between sunrise and at least 2-3 hours before your head hits your pillow.

What should you eat on 16:8?

There are no explicit guidelines for what to eat on a 16:8 TRF. It all depends on your goals! We always recommend pairing fasting with a high-quality whole-food diet and avoiding empty calories from highly processed foods. If you want to support a deeper state of ketosis and smoother transitions into the fasted state, you can pair 16:8 with a low-carb ketogenic diet. Metabolically speaking, fasting and ketogenic diets are cut from the same cloth with many overlapping benefits. But if a ketogenic diet doesn’t work for you and you find carbohydrates do not interfere with your ability to fast, dig in! Just make sure they aren’t full of sugar and processed junk. Your primary focus should be ensuring you are consuming enough protein, calories, healthy fats, and essential nutrients within your 8-hour eating window.

Using 16:8 as a tool

Generally, 16:8 hits the sweet spot between an overnight fast and a longer daily fast. It’s popular for a reason! Most people find that with a little willpower, this can be a great tool to make fasting a daily routine so you can reduce reliance on calorie counting. It can also be a tool for keeping you on track during the week so you can enjoy a more liberal eating window on weekends if that suits you, for weeks or months at a time, or maybe for the sake of simplicity when times get busy. The beauty of TRF, specifically a 16:8, is it allows for flexibility in your diet so you don’t need to obsess over your food quite so much as you otherwise might.

How to start 16:8

Most people won’t find jumping into 16:8 too dramatic, but if you are new to intermittent fasting and want to start slow, practice shorter fasts and work your way up. For example, start with a week of 13:11, followed by a week of 14:10, eventually graduating to 16:8. The Coach function in Zero should help you work your way up to 16:8 if it’s right for your goals. Working your way up will train your metabolism to burn fat and ketones more efficiently, making 16:8 feel like a breeze.

Bottom Line

Many people find 16:8 a very reasonable style of intermittent fasting, used to derive the benefits of fasting without significantly interfering with regular daily routines or social life. Once you get the hang of it, 16:8 often gets swept up as part of your lifestyle. It can be used as a potent weight loss tool that eliminates the pressure of restricting calories or foods, but can also be a simple strategy to improve your health by aligning when you eat with your natural circadian rhythm. Ultimately, 16:8 can be helpful for better digestion, sleep, rest, and recovery. Our pro tip is to be mindful of how much you are eating within your eating window. For those pursuing weight loss, avoid restricting calories too much and for too long, and for those who are not looking to lose weight, avoid inappropriate long-term caloric restriction. It is best to position your eating window between sunrise and at least 2-3 hours before bed to give your body enough time to digest your food properly and lower your risk of disrupting sleep by eating too late. Lastly, we always recommend pairing intermittent fasting with a high-quality whole food diet. The combination of 16:8 with a healthy diet is a fantastic way to better your health.


About Kristi Storoschuk

Kristi Storoschuk, BSc (Hons.) is a science communicator with a research focus on ketogenic diets, metabolic therapies, and fasting for health optimization. She currently works alongside the world’s leading ketogenic researchers providing scientific education for the mainstream audience. Outside of her research, you will find her traveling the world, doing CrossFit, and optimizing her health through diet and lifestyle.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

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The Sad Death of Affirmative Action

It’s clear that what’s at stake isn’t a vision of social and racial justice that would ameliorate inequalities for a broad swath of people but, rather, a fight for spots in the élite ranks of society.

By Jay Caspian Kang

November 4, 2022

Of all the questions that were batted about during Monday’s Supreme Court arguments on affirmative action, the only one that seemed to get to the heart of the matter was asked, repeatedly, by Justice Clarence Thomas. Does diversity confer any actual educational benefits? For decades, the legal justification for considering race as a factor in college admissions has rested on the idea that students learn better, and more broadly, from being around classmates from different backgrounds, whether geographic or racial.

I do not feel the need to debate the question of whether or not diversity is meaningful to a person’s education, mostly because I think the answer is pretty self-evident and broadly accepted. The more pointed legal question—whether the benefits of diversity actually provide a compelling enough reason to practice racial preferences in admissions—is certainly more contested. But it is worth noting just how the attorneys for the University of North Carolina and Harvard argued for the benefits of diversity on their campuses. When Thomas asked Ryan Park, the solicitor general of North Carolina, his go-to question, Park talked about a study on stock trading that showed diverse stock-trading units performed better than more homogenous ones because they were more resistant to “groupthink.” Seth Waxman, the attorney for Harvard, declared a bit theatrically that the fate of the country depended on “leaders who have enjoyed wide exposure to students as diverse as the nation itself.”

All of this might be true. But it’s clear that what’s at stake isn’t a vision of social and racial justice that would ameliorate inequalities for a broad swath of people but, rather, a fight for spots in the élite ranks of society. We want diverse stock traders, corporate-boardroom members, and tenured professors. While it’s important to have diversity in any space, I think it’s crucial to clearly detail what, exactly, Harvard is making the case for. The university is arguing that it has to use racial preferences in admissions in order to maintain a helpful amount of diversity on campus. It’s also, by extension, defending its entire admissions policy, which includes seemingly looser standards for athletes, donors, and legacy admits.

Harvard’s logic is based entirely on what is allowed by law, which is that race can only be used in a “narrowly tailored” way. The definition of this term has changed, but in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court said schools must engage in “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives that will achieve the diversity the university seeks.” To prove this, schools like Harvard are supposed to show that there aren’t reasonable other ways to create diversity that do not consider an applicant’s race, such as socioeconomic affirmative action or implementing something similar to the University of Texas’s system, which admits the top ten per cent of students at any school in the state.

This line of inquiry set up a layup for the plaintiffs, which Cameron Norris, one of the attorneys for Students for Fair Admissions—the conservative legal organization fighting to end affirmative action—gladly took in his address on Monday. Norris argued that Harvard, in fact, is not diverse in any way other than racially. This, ultimately, is true not only in the Ivy League but at all sorts of exclusive colleges that typically practice racial preferences in admissions. A good thing to remember here is that the majority of college students in America attend schools that accept the overwhelming majority of their applicants, making the question of racial preferences mostly moot. For example, Harvard’s Black population is around fifteen per cent of the student body. By comparison, twenty-two per cent of the students at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston are Black. Harvard practices affirmative action. Bunker Hill accepts all of its applicants, and so has no need or ability to balance their classes based on high-minded ideas about diversity.

The diversity that Harvard promotes, by the very fact that it has to be within Harvard’s institutions, will be for wealthy high achievers, the majority of whom have led immensely privileged lives. The following numbers cannot be repeated enough: two-thirds of Harvard students come from families in the top twenty per cent of income earners. A full three per cent of students come from the top 0.1 per cent, compared with 4.5 per cent from the bottom twenty per cent. And bias toward wealthy students extends across all racial categories. An article for the Harvard Crimson’s magazine, published in 2020, looked at the relative underrepresentation of students who identify as “Generational African American” (G.A.A.), compared with the children of more recent immigrants from Africa. “If we were to count the number of GAA students at Harvard who were descended from enslaved people, came from low income backgrounds, first generation, four grandparents descended from enslaved people, I feel like that number would be so low,” one of those students said. “Like, maybe one person. It’s just so, so, so low.”

So what happens at élite schools after the Court’s eventual ruling? One bit of history that has been cited in the past few weeks is what happened in the University of California system in the late nineties after the passage of Proposition 209, which effectively banned affirmative action in the state. Between 1995, the year before Prop. 209 passed, and 1998, the Black and Latino populations at U.C.L.A. were effectively cut in half to 3.4 and 10.5 per cent, respectively. Today, after a quarter century, and half a billion dollars in interventions to boost diversity numbers without explicitly using race as an admissions criteria, those numbers have gone back up to about what they were before the passage of the law.

Today, the élite schools that practice affirmative action are much better equipped to deal with the Court’s potential decision, in part because they have had to perpetually adjust their admissions practices as the court has narrowed the scope of what is permissible through successive rulings since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke—the case that began the affirmative-action legal fight. Admissions offices now specialize in a byzantine and confusing language aimed at satisfying the Court’s mandates on just how much they can consider race.

They also seem to have been preparing for the inevitability of the Court’s decision on affirmative action.

The decision to stop requiring the SAT or ACT, which was taken up by nearly every élite college in the country, most likely did not come out of some sudden collective epiphany about the harms of standardized testing. Rather, I’d imagine that those scores could be the potential evidentiary basis for lawsuits that compared admissions rates between applicants of different races. It’s far easier to explain gaps in grade-point average, extracurricular activities, and the like than it is to explain why someone who got a 1590 didn’t get in, but someone who got a 1350 did.

“What colleges and universities will need to do after affirmative action is eliminated is find ways to achieve diversity that can’t be documented as violating the Constitution,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, told me. “So they can’t have any explicit use of race. They have to make sure that their admissions statistics don’t reveal any use of race. But they can use proxies for race.”

These solutions won’t coalesce overnight. Chemerinsky predicts that the decision will be a shock to many school’s systems, and may drive down the racial-diversity numbers at a number of schools in the short term. But he also believes that many schools will find alternatives in the way that the University of California system did. “It will take concerted effort,” Chemerinsky said. “That’s what the experience in California shows—it took a great deal of trial and error.”

The real tragedy here is that the most consequential ruling on affirmative action had to come out of the Harvard case, given that there’s so little to admire or even defend about the most exclusive and élite institution of higher education in the U.S., perhaps even the world.

In one of the most embarrassing parts of the trial, Justice Samuel Alito asked Waxman the question that has been on the minds of many Asian Americans since this trial began: Did Harvard’s “personal rating” system, on which Asian applicants consistently scored lower than others, constitute an insidious way to keep Asian student numbers low, or did Harvard actually believe that Asian students lacked courage and curiosity? Waxman avoided answering the question, and continued to deflect when Alito pointed out the evasion and asked the question again. Eventually, the Justices simply gave up on getting an answer. I do not think any equity-minded educator or politician would have simply shrugged at the clear racial disparity, nor do I believe that most progressives would accept Waxman’s or Harvard’s circuitous non-answer.

The vast majority of Americans, I imagine, also believe there is value in meeting people from all walks of life and learning from other experiences. But few would argue that the ideal setting for that is a place where there are almost as many kids from the top 0.1 per cent of income earners as the bottom twenty per cent. The defenders of affirmative action, then, are placed in a nearly impossible position, one that will almost certainly end up being for naught when a 6–3 conservative majority ultimately rules in these two cases.

A broad, wide-ranging decision on affirmative action will have effects that span well beyond the admissions practices of exclusive schools. A mandate that no institution or organization that receives funding from the federal government can consider race in any of their decision-making will effectively end all types of racial remediations and interventions, whether around voting laws, financing, or housing. These are not areas where a small group of well-intentioned, hardworking admissions officers and university administrators can still work to produce the outcomes they desire. Affirmative action has been the foundation for upward mobility for women and minority groups for the past several decades. It deserves a more dignified and robust defense than what Harvard could possibly offer. ♦

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