A new article in The Atlantic by my UCLAW colleague Richard Sander answers that question in the affirmative. Along with his coauthor, Stuart Taylor, Sander argues that:
The single biggest problem in this system -- a problem documented by a vast and growing array of research -- is the tendency of large preferences to boomerang and harm their intended beneficiaries. Large preferences often place students in environments where they can neither learn nor compete effectively -- even though these same students would thrive had they gone to less competitive but still quite good schools.
We refer to this problem as "mismatch," a word that largely explains why, even though blacks are more likely to enter college than are whites with similar backgrounds, they will usually get much lower grades, rank toward the bottom of the class, and far more often drop out. Because of mismatch, racial preference policies often stigmatize minorities, reinforce pernicious stereotypes, and undermine the self-confidence of beneficiaries, rather than creating the diverse racial utopias so often advertised in college campus brochures.
It's based on their new book on the mismatch phenomenon. It offers a compelling critique of affirmative action and the way higher education elites defend it at all costs despite the detriment to students. In sum, a must read.