Press Releases

News from EPI Media Advisory – Should Affirmative Action Be Colorblind?

On Friday, December 5, at 10:00 a.m. ET, the Economic Policy Institute will host a debate between noted scholars on affirmative action in American higher education, featuring Georgetown University Law Professor Sheryll Cashin and Richard Rothstein, a research associate at EPI.

The event will be livestreamed here.

In her 2003 book, Place, Not Race, Cashin argues that race-based affirmative action is neither desirable nor necessary, citing its impediment to coalition-building with whites and the importance for universities of recruiting deserving but economically disadvantaged students of all races and ethnicities who live in low-income neighborhoods or whose families have little wealth.

EPI research associate Richard Rothstein, in a critical review of Cashin’s book, argues that race-based policies remain necessary to address the unique exploitation of African Americans and to enroll middle-class black students who are most in need of affirmative action. Colorblind recruitment of disadvantaged students is desirable, he says, but not as a substitute for race-based policy.

Cashin and Rothstein will be joined by Lia Epperson, an American University law professor and former director of the education law and policy group of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Catharine Bond Hill, president of Vassar College and a national leader of efforts to enroll low-income students in elite colleges. Valerie Wilson, Director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy will moderate the discussion.

What: Discussion on race- vs. class-based affirmative action

Who: Sheryll Cashin, Professor of Law at Georgetown University
Richard Rothstein, EPI Research Associate
Lia Epperson, Professor of Law at American University
Catharine Bond Hill, President of Vassar College
Valerie Wilson, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at EPI

When: Friday, December 5, 2014
10:00-11:30 a.m. ET

Where: Economic Policy Institute
1333 H St., NW
Suite 300, East Tower
Washington, DC 20005

To RSVP, email