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"Journalism Programs End Race Criteria":

So reports an AP story:

More than two dozen urban journalism programs throughout the U.S. will not use race as a criteria for enrollment under a settlement with a white high school student who was rejected by one of the programs.

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund and other principals agreed to the settlement in return for the Center for Individual Rights withdrawing its legal challenge of the programs, both parties said Wednesday.

In September, the center filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of Emily Smith, 16, who said she was accepted last spring to the Urban Journalism Workshop at Virginia Commonwealth University. One week later, she said, she was rejected after program sponsors learned she was white.

Under terms of the settlement, neither VCU, Dow Jones nor any of the principals admitted to any wrongdoing. VCU also agreed to pay $25,000 to Ms. Smith and her attorneys and admit her to the program next summer....

The settlement requires VCU and other programs sponsored by Dow Jones to select students "without regard to race." The programs also agree to publicly acknowledge they will offer no preferential treatment or discriminate against any prospect "on the basis of race or ethnicity." ...

I know the CIR people well, and think very highly of them -- this sounds like quite a significant victory.

neurodoc:
Too bad we are not given more "background" facts here, like how the "program sponsors learned she was white" and rejected her after she had been accepted. I expect the details would add a great deal to this story, just as they did in the University of Michigan case when the details came out about the grid used for ranking applicants to achieve racial preference goals.
2.15.2007 6:03pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Wow, VCU really shot themselves in the foot by not eating the "mistake" of admitting Smith. You couldn't ask for a plainer case of racial discrimination.
2.15.2007 6:09pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
According to the complaint, the application that Smith completed which lead to her acceptance in the program did not ask her race nor did the advertisement by which she learned of the program say that the program was limited to applicants by their race. Smith also states in her complaint that her race only came up when she was asked about it during a phone conversation she had with Davis (one of the associate profs involved with the program).
2.15.2007 6:22pm
Chuck:
"The program is intended to encourage minority students to pursue journalism careers."

"Pamela D. Lepley, a VCU spokeswoman, said the program would not change as a result of the out-of-court agreement."

"The settlement requires VCU and other programs sponsored by Dow Jones to select students "without regard to race." The programs also agree to publicly acknowledge they will offer no preferential treatment or discriminate against any prospect "on the basis of race or ethnicity.""

How could a program "intended to encourage minority students to pursue journalism careers" ever "select students "without regard to race."" or "offer no preferential treatment or discriminate against any prospect "on the basis of race or ethnicity"" and still achieve the intended result?
2.15.2007 6:26pm
Houston Lawyer:
University administrators just can't believe that they are not allowed to blatantly discriminate based upon race. They should have told her she was too tall or too thin.
2.15.2007 6:30pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Chuck: In this case "minority" should probably best be considered as a term of art for those who are under-represented among the current population of journalists in this country, e.g.' women, people from dis-advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, the highly intelligent, etc., etc. Certain criteria such as race and religion might rightly be regarded as invidious criteria for selection into such programs. As an example, race-related criteria are extremely effective at determining likely defaulters on mortgages, but may not be legally nor -- I would argue -- morally used for this purpose. Why should race-related traits be used in a much more invidious way to determine what young people are and are not going to receive a special and enormously valuable privilege from the country's power elite?
2.15.2007 6:42pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Apparently the advertisement for the workshop said it was geared towards "minorities" and the Plaintiff (who is a girl with muscular dystrophy) tried to make the claim that being either (a) a woman or (b) someone with a disability (muscular dystrophy) would meet the "minority" requirement.
2.15.2007 6:43pm
CEB:
Shouldn't they have been tipped off by her name? "Emily" is literally one of the whitest names out there.


How could a program "intended to encourage minority students to pursue journalism careers" ever "select students "without regard to race."" or "offer no preferential treatment or discriminate against any prospect "on the basis of race or ethnicity"" and still achieve the intended result?


I'm sure their lawyers are working on that this very moment.
2.15.2007 6:49pm
Constantin:
How could a program "intended to encourage minority students to pursue journalism careers" ever "select students "without regard to race."" or "offer no preferential treatment or discriminate against any prospect "on the basis of race or ethnicity"" and still achieve the intended result?

Just ignore it. That's the California strategy.
2.15.2007 6:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If Dow Jones does not want white people attending their workshops than perhaps white people should decline to buy their publications.
2.15.2007 8:34pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Works for me
2.15.2007 9:51pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
OT, but ... sad to see "use race as a criteria" in an AP story. Yeesh.
2.15.2007 9:51pm
Bob Smith (mail):
Most likely they'll ignore the suit, as California ignores Prop. 209, by either using measures which are proxies for race or by using criteria so subjective that even overt discrimination can't be challenged.
2.15.2007 10:22pm
Hoosier:
AppSoc—

"The highly intelligent".

Thanks, I needed a good chuckle today.


Perhaps anyone who /practices/ a religion should be considered a minority for the purposes of journalism programs. Coverage of religion by, e.g., the network news, CNN, the NYT . . . it's not much that it's biased, it's that it's ignorant.

Also, as a person with a "diagnosed disability," I would not have hesitated to apply for a program aimed at under-represented groups. Besides Charles Krauthammer, I don't get the sense that there are a lot of disabled people in the news business.
2.15.2007 10:46pm
neurodoc:
If VCU were not a state institution but rather a private school or other entity receiving no state or federal funding, would there be any basis for this lawsuit? If the Dow Jones Fund and the newspapers were not collaborating with a state institution (VCU), would there be any cause of action against them?
2.15.2007 10:52pm
David Walser:
If VCU were not a state institution but rather a private school or other entity receiving no state or federal funding, would there be any basis for this lawsuit? If the Dow Jones Fund and the newspapers were not collaborating with a state institution (VCU), would there be any cause of action against them?

Doesn't the answer to this question depend on whether VCU is viewed as providing a public accommodation? If so, then, can't VCU, like a lunch counter, be required by law to serve all comers without regard to race?
2.15.2007 11:23pm
CDU (mail):

Too bad we are not given more "background" facts here, like how the "program sponsors learned she was white" and rejected her after she had been accepted.


There's a bit more detail on this Inside Higher Ed article. It says, "A few days after she was accepted, Virginia Commonwealth called her and asked her race. When she indicated that she was white, she was told that she 'couldn't come.'"
2.16.2007 2:16am
Dick Schweitzer (mail):
Could there be a privately endowed fund that provided grants only to females (not discriminating by race), excluding males,,for the purpose of encouraging and supporting female participation in the study of medical science (including pre-med prep)?

Could a government supported institution (a) accept students obtaining such grants (b)advertise and encourage use of those grants, (c) establish a "program" in cooperation with the private fund to solicit and enroll such students?

If not as to any of the specified cases, why not as to that case?

Thereafter, one might expand the discrimination aspects of the endowment to further constrict eligibility, and begin the enquiry again.

Perhaps the real issue is whether a government supported institution can "cooperate" with a non-governmental entity to conduct activities which the former could not do directly?
2.16.2007 10:20am
JerryW (mail):



Could there be a privately endowed fund that provided grants only to females (not discriminating by race), excluding males,,for the purpose of encouraging and supporting female participation in the study of medical science (including pre-med prep)?


Very interesting question but I have one even more provocative. I don't have the exact numbers at my desk but I think over 50% of medical students are now female. Could a privately endowed fund provide grants only to males (not discriminating by race), excluding females?
2.16.2007 12:45pm
godfodder (mail):
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry...
I know this "minority" thing can get a bit, um, fuzzy, so I have come up with a simple approach that works quite well actually:

If you are a white, heterosexual male you are "the majority." Everyone else is a "minority."

Try it! You'll see, it works everytime!
2.16.2007 1:28pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
Someone can be a minority in one academic area and not in another. For example, the University of Colorado at Boulder encourages donors to give money specifically for funding male students in Women's Studies.

The idea that a purportedly intelligent young woman didn't realize that the workshop was for racial minorities seems questionable.

When she was applying for the workshop, Smith was unaware of the specific definition of minority it held, Pell said. Smith first heard about the program in the spring of 2006 when she read an article in the Times-Dispatch advertising the workshop.

"The article said the workshop requested students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds," Pell said. "Diverse could mean anything.

"After talking with her parents, Emily didn't know what that meant," he said. "So they decided to apply anyway."

Pell said Smith had no reason to believe white students were not allowed. Smith also thought she might fit into the definition of a minority, either from being female or having muscular dystrophy.


Specifically, the first sentence of the article ("Summer workshop calling for applicants; High school students invited to try out for journalism seminar," Feb. 26, 2006) was "The 22nd Urban Journalism Workshop, designed to help high school students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds improve their journalism skills, will be held June 18-30 in Richmond."

That's pretty clearly talking about race and ethnicity, not about any other forms of diversity. So the "she's female! she's disabled!" argument is BS. One can argue that women or the disabled are underrepresented in journalism. (I have no idea how underrepresnted the disabled may be, given that unlike gender and race you usually can't tell from the name or picture, and I didn't know Krauthammer was in a wheelchair until he wrote a column about the FDR memorial controversy in which he said disabled people didn't *like* to have their disabilities spotlighted, therefore FDR should not be represented in a wheelchair.) But that's not an argument that this particular program fails to advertise itself accurately as accepting applicants based on race and ethnicity.
2.16.2007 1:59pm
neurodoc:
PGofHSM, are you saying that Ms. Smith must be either unintelligent or disingenuous, since someone of even average intelligence would surely realize that a call for "students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds" was not an invitation to someone such as herself, not a racial minority, to apply? Why shouldn't the sponsors been entirely candid and explicitly stated that no caucasians would be accepted?

How about "diverse ethnic backgrounds," who is/isn't encompassed? Would Jews qualify on the basis of "ethnic background"? Muslims? Would the answer depend on their relative numbers in the population or in journalism? Whether they were American or foreign born? Whether they were born into their faith community (ethnicity?) or adopted it?

And yes, CDU, the complaint provided some of those additional background details, which were very interesting and informative.
2.16.2007 2:31pm
Ken Kukec (mail):
godfoddor,

For centuries, white males were the beneficiaries of the greatest affirmative-action program ever conceived. (%100 -- now there's a quota for you.)

How come no one here is arguing against suits like young Ms. Smith's on the basis that they interfere with States' rights or the right of private association?

Won't economics alone solve the reverse-discrimination problem? (I've heard it argued here that economics would have ended Jim Crow, if only the courts would have kept their noses out of it.)
2.16.2007 3:00pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
PGofHSM:

By your reasoning Rosa Parks should have given up her seat on the bus to a white since it was clear that's what she was supposed to do.

It doesn't matter that Smith should have known the workshop excluded whites because to do so is clearly illegal and immoral. Technically speaking Rosa Parks was breaking the law, while Smith wasn't. It was Dow Jones and VCM that were breaking the law.

Just what is your point?
2.16.2007 3:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ken Kukec:

"How come no one here is arguing against suits like young Ms. Smith's on the basis that they interfere with States' rights or the right of private association?"

Because it's settled law that the states are constitutionally prohibited from creating and enforcing a system of apartheid, and this matter involves a state institution, not a private association.
2.16.2007 3:25pm
JerryW (mail):
<i></blockquote>
For centuries, white males were the beneficiaries of the greatest affirmative-action program ever conceived. (%100 — now there's a quota for you.)</i>

<b>The problem with that rationalization for discrimination is that all white males were not covered by that beneficial quota. As a white male Jew I was not acceptable to Northwestern medical school and many others (Yale?) and even my state university had a clever but legal way to exclude Jews.

I know it is selfish for me to feel that it is unfair and even possibly illegal that I couldn't get in because I was Jewish, my son can't get in because he is a male and my daughter can't get in because she is caucasian.

</b>
2.16.2007 3:58pm
Ken Kukec (mail):
Appreciate the literal answer, A. Zarkov, but how come nobody on The Right saw it that way for the hundred years we had a separate-but-(not-so)-equal apartheid system -- that is, until some white folk were handed the smelly end of the stick? (Or did I just miss the part about the Young Conservatives marching in Birmingham and Selma, or helping to desegregate Alabama and Ole Miss?)

You concede that "State's Rights" and "right of private association" were bogus arguments? That economics alone wasn't up to the task?
2.16.2007 4:14pm
Ken Kukec (mail):
I feel ya, JerryW, but it's not like your son and daughter can't get in. There's no rule or practice completely excluding them, as there was before.

I'm not sure what the answer is, and I don't know what can be done where schools still use, as you put it, "clever but legal ways" to exclude minorities. But it gets my back up a bit to hear outrage from people who have had it so good for so long -- people who would suck up a legacy admission without batting an eye -- just because someone, somewhere from a group traditionally excluded might be getting an extra point or two toward his or her admission-qualification score at the same school.
2.16.2007 4:40pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Ken,

I doubt you will find anyone here who is willing to defend Jim Crow. 60 years ago there were a lot of people of various political stripes who believed that states should be able to segregate schools. Today there are very few such people, and they are considered radicals by liberals and conservatives alike. If you are looking for hypocrisy in the fact that modern conservatives value the 14th Amdt. to the Constitution, you won't find it.

You ask why no one is arguing against "suits like Ms. Smiths" on the ground that private persons should be free to associate with whoever they wish. Well, perhaps private persons should have such rights. However, again, that is not the issue here, since VCU is a state institution.

You then wonder why economics would not be enough to eradicate such discrimination. One reason is that the cost of discrimination must be balanced against the cost of not discriminating. The cost of not discriminating is that idiots will protest you and accuse you of racism. This bad publicity can reduce applications, lower quality of candidates, and generally endanger your good will. "Economics" provides less of a solution when a state actor is involved. A state actor's survival does not depend on efficiency. Check out your local DMV for further proof.
2.16.2007 4:52pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
-- just because someone, somewhere from a group traditionally excluded might be getting an extra point or two toward his or her admission-qualification score at the same school--

One popular misconception about affirmative action is that we are really talking about a "point or two." In reality, we are talking about minority candidates who, but for their minority status, stand not a snowball's chance in hell to get into the school at issue. Check out Richard Sander's article on affirmative action in law schools in the Stanford law review. (putting that into westlaw should turn it up).
2.16.2007 5:00pm
eddy:
A bit off-topic, but I am considering applying for benefits from the "white, male, heterosexual trust fund" that I keep hearing about.

Can any readers point me to the website that administers these benefits? Are there separate funds for Protestants, Jews and Catholics? Do they allow withdrawls by ATM?
2.16.2007 5:19pm
eddy:
As a follow-up, when I was discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy I didn't specificly claim an exemption for my 'white privilege'. I did use the federal rather than state exemptions. Break it to me gently, but can past creditors attach or garnish my 'white privilege'?
2.16.2007 5:46pm
Ken Kukec (mail):
Mike,


You then wonder why economics would not be enough to eradicate such discrimination. One reason is that the cost of discrimination must be balanced against the cost of not discriminating. The cost of not discriminating is that idiots will protest you and accuse you of racism. This bad publicity can reduce applications, lower quality of candidates, and generally endanger your good will. "Economics" provides less of a solution when a state actor is involved. A state actor's survival does not depend on efficiency. Check out your local DMV for further proof.


I assume the same argument would have applied, with extra vigor, to the invidious racial discrimination we call Jim Crow: that economics could not have provided a solution, since bigots would have branded white merchants serving blacks as "race mixers" (and, of course, much worse), thereby endangering more than just their business's good will, and since it was sanctioned (implicitly and explicitly)by the state.

I will read Sander's article on affirmative action and get back to you after cogitating on it a bit.

Do you consider the public-accommodations discrimination cases a one-off, or do they fit into your overall theory of constitutional interpretation?
2.16.2007 5:47pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Ken, in a nutshell, yes -- the same economic argument applies to state-sanctioned discrimination. Sure enough, the market may not always fix private discrimination either, though I believe private actors, (at least those not receiving state funds), should be free to discriminate as they like.
2.16.2007 7:18pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
PGofHSM,

Specifically, the first sentence of the article ("Summer workshop calling for applicants; High school students invited to try out for journalism seminar," Feb. 26, 2006) was "The 22nd Urban Journalism Workshop, designed to help high school students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds improve their journalism skills, will be held June 18-30 in Richmond."

Are you saying that "various" (or "diverse," for that matter) definitially excludes "white"? I realize that the idea is to suggest "no whites allowed" without having actually to spell it out, but is that really a tactic we should encourage?

Personally I want to see these things spelled out; I want to know exactly how black (or Latino, or Native American, or whatever) an applicant for such programs is required to be, and what evidence needs to be presented of group membership. Make it obvious what's involved in categorizing people systematically by race and, mirabile dictu, most people are suddenly more squeamish about the prospect.
2.17.2007 12:37pm
Ken Kukec (mail):
Mike,

Just so I'm clear: You believe that private racial discrimination -- both the directed-at-minorities and affirmative-action variety -- even as to places of public accommodation, is not unconstitutional and shouldn't be prohibited by statute? If so, I'll give you points for consistency. I'm not sure you're right, though my mind is open to competing arguments.

I mean, your answer to Jim-Crow discrimination, the type not imposed by state actors, would be ... what? Tough shizzle? (And the same, of course, to white students denied addmission to a private university because of an affirmative-action program.)

Ken
2.17.2007 5:10pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
neurodoc,
I think Ms. Smith probably is disingenuous rather than unintelligent. The gibes on this thread about journalists' intelligence notwithstanding, they're more often attempting to evade truth rather than incapable of seeing it. And a faith community is not an ethnicity -- they are completely different things, even if there can be overlap between the two, so your remarks about Muslims etc. are irrelevant to the discussion. Two people of 100% French descent can have entirely different faith communities, one being Catholic and the other a Huguenot.

A. Zarkov,
By my reasoning, Rosa Parks should have known that she was courting arrest by refusing to give up her seat, and she did know it, being neither stupid nor disingenuous. It was a fairly deliberate provocation, one that has been celebrated for galvanizing the Montgomery bus boycott and copycat acts of civil disobedience, but one of the great things about the civil rights movement is that its members were unafraid to go to jail, because they knew sacrifices had to be made to fight wrongs. They did not go around having their lawyers say, "Well, gosh, how were they *supposed* to know that they weren't allowed to eat at the lunch counter?" (I know they didn't have their lawyers say this because a former executive director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund taught me civil procedure, and at no point did he recommend this as a way to get one's client out of trouble. Ignorance of law as no excuse, and all that.)

Michelle,
I'm fine with having it spelled out, too. Many of the scholarship and grant opportunities I've heard about at law school specified a particular background for the applicants, whether it was having been born in a particular county, or being of Polish descent, or being the first in one's family to go to graduate school. None of them have been shy about saying who's in and who's out, and I've always been out, which is fine because I don't have a sense of entitlement about such things.
But no one who is claiming superior reading and writing skills can plausibly say that she didn't understand that a reference to racial and ethnic backgrounds meant that one's racial and ethnic background would be relevant. If it were irrelevant, why would it be mentioned at all? And for her to read that and then think that being disabled or female somehow related to "racial or ethnic background" is beyond disingenuous.
2.18.2007 4:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
PGofHSM:
And for her to read that and then think that being disabled or female somehow related to "racial or ethnic background" is beyond disingenuous.
I don't see why. We regularly hear the word "minority" used in affirmative action debates in such a way as to include women, even though women are obviously not a minority. (And on the other side of the coin, we regularly hear the word "minority" used in dicussions about affirmative action in such a way that Asian-Americans are excluded, even though Asian-Americans are a racial/ethnic minority.) So yes, literally being disabled or female would not fit into "racial or ethnic background," but it's not absurd that she would think they were intended to be included.
But no one who is claiming superior reading and writing skills can plausibly say that she didn't understand that a reference to racial and ethnic backgrounds meant that one's racial and ethnic background would be relevant.
Moreover, those running affirmative action programs regularly deny that they make decisions based on race/ethnicity, even while making "reference to racial and ethnic backgrounds" throughout their materials.
2.18.2007 6:48pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
PGofHSM,

But no one who is claiming superior reading and writing skills can plausibly say that she didn't understand that a reference to racial and ethnic backgrounds meant that one's racial and ethnic background would be relevant. If it were irrelevant, why would it be mentioned at all?

Well, it might (to take one obvious explanation) be mentioned in the "Corporation X is an Equal-Opportunity Employer" sense, yes? And, anyway, "one's racial and ethnic background would be relevant" is not the same thing as "no whites allowed," except in the euphemistic atmosphere apparently pervading the offices of the people who wrote the press release.

"Various racial and ethnic backgrounds" on its face means all of them, in their, well, variety. If it's intended to mean anything else, I think someone ought to have the guts to say so; and until someone does, anyone who is turned away for not being ethnically "various" enough should raise a stink.
2.18.2007 10:55pm
neurodoc:
PGofHSM, can you tell us how social scientists define "ethnicity"? By generally accepted criteria Jews, like Protestants, constitute a "faith community" but not an "ethnicity"? I would have thought that Jews having given so much thought to what distinguishes them from others according to both religious tenets and ancestry (matrilineal descent); having emphasized group identity over the course of thousands of years and often been labeled "tribal;" having had 3 languages pretty much exclusive to them (Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino); having some rather distinctive musical and culinary traditions; discouraging marriage outside the group; having been persecuted as Jews whether religiously observant ones or not at all religious; having shared an aspiration for a Jewish state; etc. might qualify as an "ethnic" group, not just a "faith community." Why would Jews be counted as an "ethnic" group, while Latinos, all those with antecedents in a Spanish speaking country no matter the diversity in such a grouping, be seen as an "ethnic" group? (Or were you counting Latinos as a "racial" minority?) And if "Latino" is an "ethnicity," then why not "Francophone" for all those with antecedents in French speaking countries however diverse and far-flung they might be?

PGofHSM, I am struck by how dismissive, if not disdainful, you so frequently are of the views of others. For example, you have said elsewhere, "I am mostly indifferent to whether any nation on earth is majority-anything, whether it be majority white, Jewish, Japanese, etc., because I dislike organizing nationhood based on ethnic and religious identity." Whether you are "indifferent to whether any nation on earth is majority-anything" or "dislike organizing nationhood based on ethnic and religious identity," that is the way it is with most of the nations of the world, especially those outside the New World, and most especially those surrounding Israel. Why should Israel, a nation with much greater pluralism and rights for minorities than any of its neighbors, be singled out for disapproval on account of its ethnic and religious character?

And, "I take no stock in the holy sites of my own tradition, so why should I care about others'?), I don't see Jerusalem or any of Zion as having been the necessary place for such a space." Again, so what that you care not about any group's holy sites, neither your own or those of others? Because PGofHSM doesn't see why Jerusalem or other holy sites should matter to Jews, their historical connections and attachments to the land count for nothing? Do you similarly dismiss the attachment of others to their holy sites and think those attachments can be ignored when looking for geopolitical solutions?

And I can't imagine who could possibly care that you, a non-Jew who doesn't see Jews as other than a "faith community," who sees the attachment of Jews to their holy sites as so much piffle, etc., who have shown neither knowledge or interest in the relevant history of the conflicting parties, "(p)ersonally...think it is acceptable for a Jewish person to believe and advocate that Jews no longer need a 'safe space,' or to think that Israel has not proven to be so safe after all, and for that Jewish person not to have committed treason to Judaism or Jewishness-as-ethnicity-not religion.

"Personal" opinions are of interest to the extent that they are informed and thoughtful. Dissenting opinions can be of greater interest and value than concurring ones if they advance a discussion. They can only do that, however, when they are buttressed by facts and cogent arguments.
2.19.2007 6:17pm