pageok
pageok
pageok
Conflicting Rationales for Affirmative Action in Higher Education:

I agree entirely with David Bernstein's previous post: affirmative action in higher education should not be categorically forbidden, but it should be both more transparent and better designed. As David writes, "it's important to . . . have a theory as to which people you are giving preferences to, and why, rather than just give a preference to anyone who meets rather arbitrary ancestry rules." This is particularly important in light of the fact that different rationales for affirmative action imply very different admissions policies. If affirmative action is based on the "diversity" rationale, which holds that students benefit from having classmates with varied backgrounds, then it might make sense to give affirmative action preferences to white immigrants from countries such as Sweden or Russia. Such people will, on average, contribute more to diversity than native-born American whites. The same goes for black immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean relative to native-born blacks.

By contrast, if the justification for affirmative action is compensatory justice - trying to redistribute wealth to groups that have suffered from discrimination in this country - then a very different set of affirmative action priorities is called for. The issue cannot be avoided by saying that we should pursue both goals at once. Given a limited number of affirmative action admission slots, places allocated under the diversity rationale will not be available for compensatory justice purposes and vice versa.

I discussed these issues in more detail in this post, which addressed the controversy raised by the fact that a substantial proportion of black affirmative action admittees at elite schools are African or West Indian immigrants.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Conflicting Rationales for Affirmative Action in Higher Education:
  2. Preferred Practices for Affirmative Action in Universities:
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I think this is exactly right. I don't buy arguments that affirmative action is some horrible act of discrimination against whites. We have to remember that nobody's entitled to go to an elite university, and plenty of qualified people aren't going to get in.

But if you are going to have affirmative action, you need to be very clear as to why you are doing it. And then, you need to tailor the program to the goal. Diversity programs should attain actual diversity. Compensatory programs should target people who actually are deserving of some competition. Programs that let in a bunch of advantaged blacks and hispanics to join advantaged whites in the entering class aren't serving any goal at all, programs that claim to be seeking diversity but seem to only care about including members of historically disadvantaged racial groups are dishonest, and programs that claim to compensate for past discrimination but define asians who suffered historic discrimination as not entitled to benefits are also dishonest.

And transparency is the key. So long as there's no information as to what admissions committees are actually doing, there's no way to determine if they are being honest.

I think what actually happened was that Bakke was decided and everyone just dressed up the compensatory programs in diversity clothing. Gratz and Grutter were decided and they were dressed up again. What we really need is some honesty about what they want to do and how they are going about doing it.
10.8.2007 1:23am
Elliot Reed:
As a supporter of (some forms of) race-based affirmative action (under some circumstances), I agree that these conflicting and shifting justifications have been problematic. But I am not aware that these days anyone advocates programs based on separate out "affirmative action admissions slots". I have no doubt that that's the way some affirmative action programs work in practice though (see, e.g., Cabinet appointments).
10.8.2007 1:30am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
The irony is that the goal of diversity is to make every group look exactly the same.
10.8.2007 1:30am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Here, I think, diversity is defined in terms of who is left out rather than who is included. If an American school only had white students, we would wonder why, because the U.S. is full of non-whites as well. Arguments that no blacks or hispanics are worthy to be students are unsatisfying: If, for example, the top schools had no Jewish students, we would not be content to say, well, schools have standards to uphold, so obviously Jews are lacking in merit. People, especially Jews, would question the fairness of the "merit" system used for selection based solely on the result; that the result proved the methodology must be flawed.

Defining diversity in terms of not leaving out any substantial population subgroup benefits majority groups as well as the minority groups who are now admitted. Students meet and talk to the other groups, observe them in the classroom, study together, recreate together, all of which breaks down the barriers of prejudice and stereotyping.

Whites and Asians are prejudiced especially against U.S. blacks. But Ilya's observation substantial proportion of black affirmative action admittees at elite schools are African or West Indian immigrants demonstrates that black academic failure is not a result of genetics but of environment, starting most likely with the parents they're born to, which no one of course can control. So methods that assure that no subgroup is left out compensate for the unfairness of being born to the wrong parents.

And diversity defined in terms of who is left out means who is left out from your fellow residents -- immigrants count for diversity if they have been your neighbors before going to school, not that they came to the U.S. solely to go to school.
10.8.2007 1:49am
tvk:
"plenty of qualified people aren't going to get in"

Not to disagree with the substance of Mr. Esper's comment, I just have to nitpick the above quote. Affirmative action advocates love to claim that the AA admittees are "qualified" and so AA is not compromising quality. This simply cannot be true because "qualified" is a relative statement.

We could define the level of "qualified" to be an 1000 SAT score, or a 150 LSAT score. A candidate with that level of test scores will surely be "qualified" for some colleges or law schools. But that candidate will not be qualified for Harvard. Why not? Because the candidate is not the most qualified candidate for the competitive slot. In a competition for scarce admissions spots, "qualified" and "most qualified" essentially mean the same thing. AA advocates desperately attempt a rhetorical dodge of this unavoidable fact--apparently with some success since even AA opponents and skeptics like Mr. Esper frequently parrot it as their first concession.

AA beneficiaries are not qualified, unless we are going to redefine qualified to non-existence. The question is (and I admit the answer to be difficult): should we admit unqualified people due to some other social goals we wish to achieve?
10.8.2007 1:50am
Tony Tutins (mail):
We could define the level of "qualified" to be an 1000 SAT score, or a 150 LSAT score

We could just measure students' IQs at age six, and determine who was going to be on the Supreme Court from that. At the very beginning of elementary education, the principal could line everyone up and say, "You're going to Harvard, you're going to Penn State, you're going to the State Pen."
10.8.2007 2:02am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Defining diversity in terms of not leaving out any substantial population subgroup benefits majority groups as well as the minority groups who are now admitted. Students meet and talk to the other groups, observe them in the classroom, study together, recreate together, all of which breaks down the barriers of prejudice and stereotyping.
That still doesn't answer the question of why a black kid coming out a given prep school is going to be any different than a white kid coming out of the same prep school. The only real difference is in the class picture and the ability of the administrations for the colleges to feel good about themselves without really doing anything. The reality is that many AA admits are not really all that different from their non-AA brethren, except for the color of their skin or their last names.
10.8.2007 2:15am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
As far as I can tell, in virtually all cases "diversity" is merely a euphemism for "affirmative action" and there is no real attempt to obtain diversity. Are there any schools whose empirical record demonstrates that they actually care about diversity?
10.8.2007 2:57am
Ilya Somin:
As far as I can tell, in virtually all cases "diversity" is merely a euphemism for "affirmative action" and there is no real attempt to obtain diversity. Are there any schools whose empirical record demonstrates that they actually care about diversity?

Perhaps not. If they don't care about it, then they should focus on compensatory justice and make sure that the program is structured in such a way as to best achieve that goal.
10.8.2007 3:08am
PersonFromPorlock:
If we're going to take academe's 'diversity' argument seriously, shouldn't we be passing new anti-miscegenation laws? Otherwise, a couple of centuries from now when everyone looks like Tiger Woods, how will anyone get an education?
10.8.2007 4:02am
Ben P (mail):
why, we'll have to find some other grounds for distinguishing among individuals.

I suggest short people.

Short people have been disadvantaged throughout history because their taller neighbors are consistently perceived as being more successful and better suited for leadership than they are.

If we don't give short people a "leg up" how are they ever going to step into the shoes of their taller neighbors.
10.8.2007 4:52am
Dan Smith:
Quote: The issue cannot be avoided by saying that we should pursue both goals at once. Given a limited number of affirmative action admission slots, places allocated under the diversity rationale will not be available for compensatory justice purposes and vice versa.

Response: I must disagree. Given the large body of (un-preferred) white males, if universities simply discriminate against them and allocate the resulting slots to (fill in as many preferred categories as you please) the universities can claim to be pursuing lots of AA policies at the same time.
10.8.2007 7:44am
Dan Smith:
As a side note, who was the genius that first created the Affirmative Action rationale of "diversity?"
10.8.2007 7:46am
sss33:
The entire "diversity" rationale is a fraud in the first place. You have to love a system that pigeonholes the biggest continent into the world into one category (Asians) and then discriminates against it, while creating a carve-out benefit for a narrow category within one country (African Americans).

Affirmative action can be run in many other ways that would be more beneficial to people who need it. The problem is that affirmative action isn't about benefiting its alleged beneficiaries. It is instead about benefiting politicians and university administrators who like to maximize their PR potential by playing the race card.
10.8.2007 8:22am
Mikeyes (mail):
Students meet and talk to the other groups, observe them in the classroom, study together, recreate together, all of which breaks down the barriers of prejudice and stereotyping



Except that they don't tend to study together or recreate together which is the majority of time in college. When given the opportunity to self segregate, that opportunity is taken by all students. I remember bringing my son to an elite college for his freshman year. I was pleased to see a racially diverse student body (I assumed that they were all going to have the intellectual rigor for this school) but within two hours I spotted recruitment by single race groups using language of separation to get those freshmen to join the local single race society. This school also had a seperate college type of dorm system which was voluntary including a single race dorm that had been demanded by this group.

Just to play the victim game a little more, white males are now a minority in most colleges and universities.
10.8.2007 8:58am
springjourney (mail):
I do not know guys, but from my independent point of view (I was not born in U.S), "affirmative actions" is plain, simple and disgusting racial segregation, similar to antimiscegenation laws.
What is more important is that "affirmative actions" an outright discrimination against immigrants. Immigrants who came to U.S. after slavery an segregation laws have been abolished, have no responsibility for paint and suffering that blacks have experienced in the past. Accordingly immigrants either should have their own portion of slots in Harward, or all kind of "AA" programs should be eliminated as unconstitutional.
10.8.2007 10:07am
wm13:
I disagree with the premise of this post and David Bernstein's. What's wrong with a rationale that says the purpose of affirmative action is to deflect criticism from civil rights/black activist groups? It's surely in the interest of any university not to be criticized by such groups. As long as those groups are happy with policies that admit people with black skins, without much regard to their familial background, and without much regard to whether they graduate, and as long as no one much objects to discrimination against Asians, why should university administrations change their current policies?

It's like the football team. You might have some complicated, ad hoc theory about the relationship of athletics and academics, or you might eschew self-examination and do whatever keeps the alumni money rolling in. I recommend the latter course, and I think it's safe to say that most university administrations share my view.
10.8.2007 10:35am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
To reinforce some preceding statements: If a member of an accredited victims' group is really--under the old style--"qualified" for entrance into whatever it is, top-tier university or entry-level banking job--he or she is very much like his or her straight, white male compatriots.
You might break down stereotypes, unless, as in colleges, the administration and the student community act to emphasize stereotypes.

My daughter was in student government when in college. One thorn in their side was the result of and the anticipated expenses for social events sponsored by The Black Caucus.

My son, on the other hand, was the only white guy playing basketball in the Black Caucus intramural league (note; not the U's intramural league, a separate league).

Both have said, unhappily, "I try not to be prejudiced...."

I submit this is not the declared goal of "diversity".
10.8.2007 10:38am
Happyshooter:
While living at the University of Michigan (in some really nice U townhouses, but that is another story) my neighbors were a couple who worked for the U. He was a grad student and the 'community aid'--free rent in return for doing rah rah and cultural events.

The wife, who was black, worked for the admissions office and was a grad student. She was put on the lego admissions project. Basically the school took black students who they though could do the work but didn't have the scores or the grades even with the 20-point admission boost for being black---and put them into groups and gave them a box of legos.

The idea was that written testing is biased and the black mind works better in group settings. The group was observed working together with the blocks, and of course they all passed.

That project soured both of my neighbors on AA, the inherent racism of the 'group' excuse for the test was the icing on the cake.
10.8.2007 10:43am
allwrits (mail):
Throwing fuel on the fire, I have always found it suspicious that when AA is discussed in reference to academics the discussion revolves around blacks and not the number one beneficiary historically -- white women. Of course, historically (or at least in the last 25 years) the group most DISadvantaged is not whites but those of Asian decent as it is from that group AA slots for women, Hispanics and blacks come disproportionately.
10.8.2007 10:59am
allwrits (mail):
umm, descent too.
10.8.2007 11:01am
sbron:
The AA issue goes to the heart of what makes the U.S.
different from every nation on earth. The Declaration
of Independence and 14th amendment are unique documents
that at least promise that people are individuals, not
members of castes, classes or races to whom special
treatment will be apportioned. Absolute color-blindedness
is like freedom of speech and the 1st amendment.
One group might feel hurt by another's freedom of
speech, or another group's equal treatment under the law.
But even white males have exactly the same rights when
applying for a job or to college as anyone else.

Either everyone has civil rights or nobody has
civil rights. This is what Shelby Steele calls
the "discipline of equality." It is no accident
that Justice Ginsburg cited international law when
defending the U. Mich. points system for race.
AA fits in perfectly with the Libertarian/Multiculturalist
axis agenda of destroying the U.S.
10.8.2007 11:27am
JosephSlater (mail):
I agree, in principle, with much of what Ilya writes above. One problem, though, is that the "diversity" rationale is pretty much the only one the Supreme Court has accepted as a generally Constitutionally permissible one for AA (meaning, the only permissible one in the public sector aside from showing that THIS PARTICULAR employer/school/entity has engaged in discrimination before.

So, suppose one believes that the best justification for AA is a general, historical, and often on-going discrimination against X group. It's hard to argue that publically or make it part of your AA policy, because the S.Ct has already held that won't pass Constitutional muster.

I don't mean to start a debate here about what the best rationales for AA actually are -- rather, my point is that current Supreme Court doctrine limits what can be stressed, at least by the actors in charge of formulating the policies.
10.8.2007 11:42am
allwrits (mail):
sbron:

Nice rant, how do you get around the legacies of Jim Crowe &slavery that lead to the systemic destruction of the hopes of blacks and Native Americans. Despite all the flowery language the reality is that a person born in America will -- save rare circumstances -- move only one rung up or down on the socio-economic ladder from where they were born.

Those whose ancestry includes american style slavery and serfdom won't be competing on the same equal plane as you and your kin. AA merely attempts to correct those chances by allowing maybe a person who works hard to move up two rungs on the ladder.

I would love to see this discussion turn in to something other than a black - white thing as the biggest group HURT by AA isn't whites, it is those of Asian descent.
10.8.2007 12:00pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
What is more important is that "affirmative actions" an outright discrimination against immigrants. Immigrants who came to U.S. after slavery an segregation laws have been abolished, have no responsibility for paint and suffering that blacks have experienced in the past.

This was a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, but white immigrants benefited from slavery and segregation as soon as their boats landed. Even if they were considered a "dumb polak" or a "greasy Dago," at least as white people they were assumed to be "one of us," and not some apelike subhuman.
You have to love a system that pigeonholes the biggest continent into the world into one category (Asians) and then discriminates against it, while creating a carve-out benefit for a narrow category within one country (African Americans).

Are you implying the U.S. should open the floodgates to all of Asia? Much better to have our current practice of taking their superbrains with their families only. But looking at considerations of fairness:
1. Africans were kidnapped and taken here. Asians came of their own free will.
2. African-Americans have been here for 300 years. The Chinese Exclusion Acts and the quotas of 1925 kept legal Asian immigrants out of this country till 1965.
3. There is no shortage of East Asian and South Asian ethnics in universities, graduate, and professional schools.

So I would dare say that if the only African-Americans in this country were extremely smart people from Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote D'Ivoire, who had come here since 1965 to go to graduate school, there would be scant discrimination against them, and no need for affirmative action.
10.8.2007 12:05pm
Happyshooter:
Tony,

I know you are making a point, but I think using insulting terms is a mistake.

Even though you have good intentions, it can be seen as an insult and usually causes a race to the bottom.
10.8.2007 12:11pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Happyshooter: those were actual insults used and stereotypes held by "native" whites at the turn of the 20th century. I don't think euphemisms would make the same point.
10.8.2007 12:17pm
CheckEnclosed (mail):
I agree that, absent any constitutional considerations, diversity may be a good idea for higher education. The idea of merit as the sole criterion for admission makes education seem like a prize, more than a process. In fact the process is interactive enough that the makeup of the students, faculty and curriculum combine to create a high or low quality education.
I also think that the experience of a white person being discriminated against in admissions is quite different from the experience of minorities and women, because in the former case there is no intimation that the victim of discrimination is somehow inferior, while in the latter case there is.
That said, given the context of racial and other prejudices in the United States, and the requirements of the Constitution, I think that affirmative action should not survive strict scrutiny. Diversity, far from being a compelling interest of the state, is often a beard for admission based on race and color, while the "remedial" theory of affirmative action is based on the principle that two wrongs make a right, plus generational shifting -- not a very inspiring principle from a moral point of view.
Practically, affirmative action creates more resentment than benefit, because for every person helped by it, several feel victimized.
The proponents of affirmative action would be better off if they declared victory and went home.
10.8.2007 12:20pm
Minnesota Reader:
Don't worry Happyshooter, we approached the bottom long before that post. The vitriol (and, in my opinion, racism) that's appeared in this and other AA posts in the past few days is incredible.
10.8.2007 12:23pm
Ray Fuller (mail):
The absurdity of the white male objection to affirmative action for minorities (read: blacks) is revealed by the fact that today white males are a major beneficiary of a silent affirmative action themselves. If grades and test scores alone were the criteria for admission to elite institutions of higher education, white males would become a vanishing breed, because white females have so outdistanced them academically in recent years. Any honest university would have to admit that it "balances" its admissions so as to achieve "gender equity", by admitting "less qualified" white males. Otherwise, the elite colleges and universities would become overwhelmingly (white)female. So it is ironic when (mostly) white males object to "unqualified" blacks being admitted under affirmative action, when those white males are themselves the beneficiaries of a similar gender "discrimination" as a group in their own admissions. The real defense of racial affirmative action is that people should not be measured comparatively solely by grades and admissions testing in the (mostly elite) university undergrad and grad school admissions competition. "Merit" is a false standard, if the sole measure is "objective" grades and tests. "Merit" is a social construct, and it has many measures, not all of which can ever be totally "objective" in any meaningful sense. At least I have yet to hear a loud demand for white males to be excluded form higher education for the "lack of merit" that they perceive for other (read: minority) "equity" candidates. The critical issue is the outcome of affirmative action, for the individual and for society. That may be much debated (see Professor Sander's controversial studies), but I find it helpful to remember that most blacks fare very well from affirmative action at the undergraduate level and actually graduate in comparable percentages to their white male counterparts. But please spare us the hypocrisy from white males who benefit from the same type and degree of preferences as blacks.
10.8.2007 12:23pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Practically, affirmative action creates more resentment than benefit, because for every person helped by it, several feel victimized.

Is avoiding white and Asian resentment a compelling state interest? I would submit eliminating de facto segregation in universities and professions was more compelling.
10.8.2007 12:26pm
cathyf:
I have sometimes commented that the difference between liberal and conservative approaches to AA is that conservatives don't believe that minorities suffer from discrimination, while liberals don't believe that minorities suffer from discrimination. Conservatives argue that discrimination is isolated, and not so bad, and that "professional victims" whine to gain advantage. Liberals think that discrimination is horrible, but that they can wave a magic wand and make it disappear at will.

Take two hypothetical examples. Johnny's mother was terribly affected by bigotry against her because she is black, so she became an alcoholic. Johnny is black. Joey's mother was terribly affected by her father's mental illness growing up, so she became an alcoholic. Joey is white. Both Johnny and Joey are retarded because of fetal alcohol syndrome. Johnny is absolutely unquestionably a victim of racism, while Joey is just as unquestionably not a victim of racism.

1) So how would giving Johnny a place in the freshman class a Berkeley in any way further the cause of compensatory justice?

2) Admitting retarded people to elite universities would certainly increase their diversity, no matter what their skin color -- so how can you argue that neither Johnny nor Joey should be excluded from elite colleges?

Of course things like FAS are obvious, but there is a whole spectrum of the damages arguably caused by racism, and the point is that they are real damages. A student who attends terrible schools for 13 years may very well be a victim of racism, in that the schools are terrible because of the actions of people with racist motivations. But you complain about the racist motivations without recognizing that the damage done to the intellectual development of the victims of the racism is real damage and can't just be waved away by sticking the student in an elite college when he turns 18. "It's too late for that, man."
10.8.2007 12:52pm
Ray Fuller (mail):
Before I am subjected to the charge (and unfortunate truth) that blacks do not graduate in comparable percentages from most institutions of higher education, please be aware that I was referring to the most "elite" colleges and universities, where their graduation rates are fairly comparable to white males, despite their admission as beneficiaries of affirmative action. While I am at it, for documentation of my charge about (white) male "gender discrimination", where roughly 10% of males can be accused of getting affirmative action themselves throughout the higher education system, see this article: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0724/p08s01-comv.html. My suspicion is that the percentage would be even higher at the most elite colleges and universities, if high school grades and admissions testing were the only criteria for admission of both men and women equally. In the context of elite university admissions, "discrimination", whether by race or by gender, is truly in the eye of the beholder. It would be ironic, if not poetic justice indeed, if the application of gender-neutral, "objective" admissions practices resulted in college classrooms becoming dominated by women, to the tune of 60-70%, a mirror reversal of the domination by men during the 1960's and the 1970's. But objectivity and neutrality do not necessarily produce the best outcomes for society. Domination by white males was not healthy for higher education in the "good old days." A proper balance by gender and an inclusion of minorities of all stripes (asian as well as black, latino and native), roughly reflecting their percentages in the larger society, arguably have benefited higher education as well as society. Blind logic does not always result in social justice. Nor does racial imbalance improve education.
10.8.2007 1:14pm
lyofbrooklyn:
This would seem quite relevant to the discussion:

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards.

Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service, Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities. White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.

Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia? A sizable number are recruited athletes who, research has shown, will perform worse on average than other students with similar academic profiles, mainly as a result of the demands their coaches will place on them.

A larger share, however, are students who gained admission through their ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators, and politicians topping the list.




—Boston Globe, 9/28/08
10.8.2007 1:18pm
wc (mail):
Interesting. But if a school is 75% white, that means that 1/5 of those students got in because of special preferences. If the same school is 10% black, it's entirely possible that 100% (or something close to it) got in because of AA. So there would be more white preferred students than black, but a lower percentage.
10.8.2007 1:23pm
Hattio (mail):
I have to disagree with Ilya on one point. I'm not sure that admitting immigrants (or at least not solely immigrants) truly meets the goals of diversity better than admitting native-born blacks or whites. If the goal of diversity is to demonstrate that America is more diverse than their town/neighborhood was, admitting someone from a different socio-economic, region of the US, and different American sub-culture might very well contribute much more to diversity.
Or to put it another way. It might be better to be surprised by American diversity than the "yeah duh" reaction that folks from other countries have different cultures.
10.8.2007 1:25pm
Jameso:
The problem with Professor's Somin's argument is that he wants to include elements of "diversity" that seems more fair to him, and not-so-surprisingly includes more white Europeans. Blacks want more of "their own" included, as do Hispanics, Canadians, and so on.

Diversity is a meaningless, hopelessly vague concept. It's open to manipulation by any member of any ethnic group who just wants what is "fair" to them. It seems designed more to engender ethnic conflict rather than prevent it. Publicly recognized aggrieved minorities will always benefit at the expense of forgotten minorities. This is not a quirky flaw that, as Professor Somin suggests, can be readily fixed. It's intrinsic to the vagueness of diversity.

History has shown that we should not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race for very serious reasons (even for some national security justifications, as we unfortunately learned after Korematsu). Diversity is not a serious reason, by comparison.
10.8.2007 1:26pm
JM, III:
If the goal is diversity, than I wouldn't call it affirmative action and I don't see what the fuss is about. Schools have long bended the admission standards to accomodate students who fall short of the baseline requirements but who bring something unique and special to the table. The focus is on the individual rather than the class/group to which they belong. As to the second justification, I cannot understand why some students must be punished for the sins of the past though they had nothing to do with those conditions. Such revenge is not justified. Create a scholarship to recognize decedents of the American slave trade (and/or Jim Crow era) and add extra seats, don't eliminate a student's opportunity to accomodate guilt and punish one who had nothing to do with it.
10.8.2007 1:27pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Ray Fuller,

A proper balance by gender and an inclusion of minorities of all stripes (asian as well as black, latino and native), roughly reflecting their percentages in the larger society, arguably have benefited higher education as well as society.

Holding Asian-American students at elite universities to "roughly their percentages in the larger society" would require seriously disfavoring them relative to white students. Are you actually in favor of this? And if so, what purpose do you feel it would serve?
10.8.2007 1:34pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Without affirmative action, there would be nothing but whites and Asians at universities in this country, because blacks and Hispanics can't compete. Isn't that what pro-AA people seem to be saying? Sure seems like it to me. Pardon me for being such an ignorant optimist, but I think minorities would do just fine without the assistance of the generous white liberal.
10.8.2007 1:38pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As a side note, who was the genius that first created the Affirmative Action rationale of "diversity?"
Lewis Powell, who was desperate to save AA but who knew it was indefensible on its own terms.

But note that the irony of "diversity" as an argument is that it implies that AA exists for the benefit of whites, not minorities.
10.8.2007 1:39pm
lyofbrooklyn:
Either it's acceptable to you that the elites in this country until very recently excluded African American and Hispanic people, or it isn't. Affirmative action has guaranteed that this is not the case but eliminating affirmative action would guarantee that we would return to that condition very quickly. The reality is that certain groups perform more poorly on the standardized tests that are used to determine admission to selective academic institutions, and that certain groups are simply more likely to have received a substandard education based on economic segregation. These two groups overlap considerably but are not identical. Either you believe that black and poor people are genetically less capable than other groups, or you recognize that something about our society (racism, economic disadvantage) has to be accounted for and corrected.

Established elites seek to reproduce themselves and to keep outsiders out. And that they have the power to advance their own interests because of financial and political power (see quote from Boston Globe above).

Affirmative action is a social good. For contrast, consider the problems France faces with its discriminated against, French-born citizens of Arab ancestry. France pretends that everyone is French, everyone is equal, and there is no discrimination and thus no need for affirmative action. But the fact is that French-born citizens of Arab descent are not represented in the professional classes, and that young people with educations from these communities are disproprotionately unemployed. This situation is clearly very bad for society as a whole.
10.8.2007 1:41pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Brian G., there was a time when pro-AA people claimed that preferences were minimal, and anti-AA people claimed that, if so, blacks don't need AA. It turns out that preferences are dramatic, and that if, for example, law schools didn't change their general admissions standards, there would be only about 1% black students at the top 20 law schools. So, to have an honest debate, it has to be acknowledged that if current admissions policies persisted, without AA, there would be very few black students at elite schools. This might in turn lead to a more general assault on "meritocratic" admissions standards, which as I recall, is one reason that Jeff Rosen argued in favor of AA.
10.8.2007 1:45pm
WC (mail):
"Either you believe that black and poor people are genetically less capable than other groups, or you recognize that something about our society (racism, economic disadvantage) has to be accounted for and corrected." I find the lumping of black and poor people together here to be odd. Are you arguing that differences in natural ability don't account for any of the differences between white people who are wealthy and white people who are poor?
10.8.2007 1:49pm
lyofbrooklyn:
WC -- I am not "lumping" black and poor people together, except in the sense that both groups tend to have lower scores on standardized tests.

And, yes, I would argue that differences in natural ability between the children of wealthy white people almost always completely irrelevant in terms of whether or not they get into selective colleges.
10.8.2007 1:59pm
lyofbrooklyn:
I would add to the above -- in other words, I think it is ridiculous to argue that a disproprotionate percentage of the children of the affluent are admitted to selective colleges because those children are disproportionately more intelligent.
10.8.2007 2:00pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Are you implying the U.S. should open the floodgates to all of Asia? Much better to have our current practice of taking their superbrains with their families only. But looking at considerations of fairness:
1. Africans were kidnapped and taken here. Asians came of their own free will.
2. African-Americans have been here for 300 years. The Chinese Exclusion Acts and the quotas of 1925 kept legal Asian immigrants out of this country till 1965.
3. There is no shortage of East Asian and South Asian ethnics in universities, graduate, and professional schools.
Of course, this entire reply is infused with a collectivist viewpoint, and ignores individuals.

Whether there is a "shortage" of East or South Asians in universities is pretty irrelevant to the specific East or South Asian who gets excluded from a university because of his skin color. The fact that some OTHER East or South Asian got into a university does nothing for him; each one isn't interchangeable, and they don't receive a collective education, but an individual one.

Nobody alive today was "kidnapped and taken here." Their ancestors were kidnapped and taken here, but those are different people; black people are not interchangeable, either. (For the same reason, nobody has been here for 300 years.) While immigrants did, and do, come of their own free will, the vast majority of college applicants were born here -- not of their own free will. And Asian immigrants to the U.S. predate 1965. (Who do you think were interned in the 1940s? Who built those railroads?)


This was a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, but white immigrants benefited from slavery and segregation as soon as their boats landed. Even if they were considered a "dumb polak" or a "greasy Dago," at least as white people they were assumed to be "one of us," and not some apelike subhuman.
Even if that's true -- and that overstates notions of white racial solidarity -- how is that a "benefit" to the immigrant? "Well, I'm not admitting you to my university -- but don't feel bad, because I like you better than a black person"?
10.8.2007 2:01pm
WC (mail):
Lyn, if you think there is NO average difference in the natural endowments of children of the affluent and children of the poor, which means in turn that there are no average differences in natural endowments of the parents, I'm afraid I can't take anything you say on this subject seriously, as you seem to take the absurd position that all achievement in society is purely due to sociological phenomena and luck.
10.8.2007 2:04pm
lyofbrooklyn:
The children of the wealthiest 25% of society are 25 times more likely to enroll in selective colleges than the children of the poorest 25% of society. Do you really believe that those children are 25 times more intelligent?
10.8.2007 2:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Either you believe that black and poor people are genetically less capable than other groups, or you recognize that something about our society (racism, economic disadvantage) has to be accounted for and corrected.
Really? Are those the only two options?
How do you explain Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century? Or Asians in recent decades?
10.8.2007 2:06pm
lyofbrooklyn:
WC, I guess what I'm saying is that given the sociological realities, we have no way of knowing whether the children of the wealthy are in fact genetically superior to the children of the poor.
10.8.2007 2:06pm
lyofbrooklyn:
David -- Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century were extraordinarily successful thanks to a culture which valued learning above all else. Many Asian immigrants in recent decades arrive with a tremendous degree of social and intellectual capital (ie, Koreans). In fact, those Asian immigrants who arrived without that kind of capital have done much more poorly (I believe the Hmong people would be in this category).
10.8.2007 2:10pm
WC (mail):
First of all, assuming all was meritocracy, saying that the wealthiest 25% are 25 times more likely has nothing to do with them being "25 times more intelligent," it would simply mean that at a given cutoff of SAT scores etc, you would find 25 times more affluent children than poor children. But no one thinks it's all pure meritocracy. The question I asked is whether you think that NONE of the differences in achievement are due to natural ability. In other words, do you think if the all the children of the top 25% switched places with all the children in the bottom 25%, the outcomes would be exactly the same? In other words, that the children of CEOs, doctors, attorneys, engineers, etc., have exactly the same endowments on average as the children of the lower tier of the occupational spectrum, and for that matter the unemployed and criminals (who are also in the bottom 25%)? And if so, that the there is therefore NO difference in natural ability between the parents (whose genes are passed on to their children)?
10.8.2007 2:10pm
WC (mail):
Okay, our posts crossed. We do actually have some way of knowing, which is identical twins separated at birth studies, which show that natural differences dominate upbringing.
10.8.2007 2:12pm
lyofbrooklyn:
In stark contrast to the history of many contemporary immigrant groups, who come from the elites of their respective countries, at the end of World War II, African Americans living in this country, especially the large number of African Americans living in the south, were essentially landless and completely uneducated peasants. There was a mass migration of this group to the north post WW-II (driven in part by the mechanization of agricultural work). They were discriminated against by the industrial unions of the time and so were denied that stepping stone to the middle class.

I could go on, but the point is that I don't think it clarifies anything to point to immigrants as proof that there's no need for affirmative action.
10.8.2007 2:15pm
lyofbrooklyn:
WC,
Actually, the best evidence is that what we refer to as "intelligence" (a problematic construct to begin with, but anyway...) is only 50% heritable.
10.8.2007 2:16pm
Ben P (mail):
Assuming some of these comments are true this is actually rather enlightening.

I find the rationale advanced by the supreme court in Grutter at least somewhat persuasive. I do think there is a benefit from having a diverse group of individuals in a given setting.

But I'm also troubled by the application of this in the Zero Sum environment of college admissions. It seems to me that no matter how you frame it, taking race into account will occasionally result in a situation where one individual is given a spot merely because of their race.


But from the comments, it also appears the schools I've attended, (A well ranked private liberal arts college and law school at a large state university) were exceptionally well integrated.

Both indeed devoted considerable attention to diversity and there were occasional comments aired to the effect that the had school engaged in direct covert affirmative action with respect to certain individuals.

But at the same time neither of these schools had nearly the significant problems with self segregation that are described here. There were occasionally some minimal examples, such as sitting together in the campus cafeteria, and there were student groups defined by racial categories but by in large the communities interacted together nearly completely, and there were certainly no examples of things like a "black caucus intermural league" or student groups that significantly seperated their activities from the rest of the social life on campus.
10.8.2007 2:29pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ref. Lousy schools.

Recent reports on the Detroit system has the warhouses with books stacked to the ceiling and the classrooms without textbooks. One administrator said that books weren't a primary means of education. The new boss of the system has not answered questions. The problem is, probably, the bureaucracy. It's happened before. Once, somebody sold whole series out the back door to the Catholic system who thought the books were surplus. Turned out not to be true. They weren't surplus, they were still in the warehouse and somebody had a hot idea.
Everybody interviewed is black, except for the head of an advocacy group trying to improve the system who thought--racist cultural chauvinist that she is--that getting the books to the students is a high priority.
My feeling is that it was an offensively racist act for the white power structure to put these morons in charge of a big school system. In addition to ruining the education process, they have plausible deniability. Ingenious.
10.8.2007 3:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I would add to the above -- in other words, I think it is ridiculous to argue that a disproprotionate percentage of the children of the affluent are admitted to selective colleges because those children are disproportionately more intelligent.
Not the 25X that you point out later, but yes, on average, they are smarter, which is part of why they are richer.
Actually, the best evidence is that what we refer to as "intelligence" (a problematic construct to begin with, but anyway...) is only 50% heritable.
Let me suggest that you are overusing this statistic, and it isn't yet "best evidence" but rather "latest evidence". The percentage has been floating quite a bit over the last number of years, and a recent study or so have pushed it in that direction.

But even if it is only 50% inheritable (which I have a hard time believing, given my personal experiences), what you are really talking then with much of the (allegedly) 50% uninherited portion are all the reasons that some kids don't live up to their potential. These factors include single (or no) patenting, maternal drug addiction, less stimulating environment, diet, excercise, parental involvement, etc. And, thanks arguably to the Great Society, these factors are more prevalent in the Black communities than in others (except probably the Native American ones).

But jumping from that to AA is quite a jump. I am not clear on the arguments there - possibly that society has to somehow negate all these factors by admitting those less able to do the work due to factors outside their control - without taking into account the fact that it is poverty, drug addiction, etc. that are implicated, and not skin color, except as an extremely rough, inaccurate, proxy.
10.8.2007 3:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
David -- Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century were extraordinarily successful thanks to a culture which valued learning above all else.
Ah, so you do agree there's another possible explanation besides genetics or discrimination.
10.8.2007 3:20pm
Horatio (mail):
"All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."
10.8.2007 3:53pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Of course, this entire reply is infused with a collectivist viewpoint, and ignores individuals.

Well sure, if you keep blacks and latinos out of the elite schools, whites and asians are never going to get to know any as individuals -- other than as boot blacks and busboys, that is.
Whether there is a "shortage" of East or South Asians in universities is pretty irrelevant to the specific East or South Asian who gets excluded from a university because of his skin color.

So, if Harvard was filled with Gujaratis who all had 2400 on their SATs, to the exclusion of your children who could only muster a 2399, at best, that would be fine with you. Fine, but I think you'd be a fairly atypical parent. Most would argue that 2399 is essentially the same as 2400, and their kids should have a nonzero shot at attending. In my "collectivist" view, a black man who finally got to sit in the front of the bus after 300 years, would understandably be disappointed if ten thousand immigrants cut in front of him in line. If you don't think black people aren't stigmatized by their 300 year history in our society I have to wonder what bubble you live in.

Although the number of Asian-Americans in the U.S. pre-1965 was not literally zero, the numbers were trivial: While China was our ally in 1943, the Magnuson Act repealed the Chinese Exclusion Acts which went back to 1882, and established a Chinese quota similar to all others in the Johnson-Reed Act, namely 2% of their proportion to the population in 1890, or 105. This means there were a whopping 5250 Chinese remaining of the group that built the railroads, etc. The number of West Coast Japanese interned during World War II was 120,000. A few Sikhs from the Punjab also had moved to Northern California to farm, before the 1924 law took effect. As colonials, Pilipinos could move freely to the U.S., but they came as bachelors.

Acceptance as an equal is the chief benefit of being white in a white dominated society.
10.8.2007 4:39pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
eek, too many negatives: If you think black people aren't stigmatized.... And I meant "Automatic" acceptance as an equal...
10.8.2007 4:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tony. It appears you are in danger of believing your own metaphors. Black men don't live to that age of three hundred. It's because of racist gerontology, I bet.

And, sure, he'd be annoyed. Lots of people get annoyed about a lot of things. The law isn't designed to be the venue for competing annoyance. "I'm more annoyed than you, so I get to take cuts!!!"
10.8.2007 4:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Ilya correctly points out that the justification given for AA is either diversity or compensation. Fair enough.

Lani Guinier and Henry Loius Gates point out that of Harvard's 530 Black undergrads, 2/3 were West Indian or African immigrants or their children, and a lesser number children of biracial couples.

So, where's the compensatory effect here? Compensation for what?

And diversity? Does Harvard think it's better to get to know West Indians and Africans rather than American Blacks?

How come more Blacks from the West Indies and Africa than from the USA?
10.8.2007 4:57pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
How come more Blacks from the West Indies and Africa than from the USA?

A shabby numbers game, showing elites in their own society have an easier time getting into elite schools.
10.8.2007 5:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tony. Right. For some reason. Being the scions of rich alumni probably isn't one of them. I don't know how many of the Caribbean admitees are beisbol players--who seem to be doing well as professionals--recruited for athletics.
Probably it's a two-fer. One is AA points and the other is no worries about lack of qualifications--the kind of qualifications which allow a student to pass classes. Now, the AA-for-Americans-descended-from-slaves folks have the risk of being seen as nativist, chauvinist, anti-immigration. This is fun.
10.8.2007 5:14pm
Horatio (mail):
Is a naturalized American citizen from Africa eligible for Affirmative Action as an "African-American" if he or she is Caucasian, or is his/her melanin disqualifying?

"Dark skin good. Fair skin bad."
10.8.2007 5:18pm
Ilya Somin:
The problem with Professor's Somin's argument is that he wants to include elements of "diversity" that seems more fair to him, and not-so-surprisingly includes more white Europeans. Blacks want more of "their own" included, as do Hispanics, Canadians, and so on.

I mention exactly 2 examples of diversity in my post: one having to do with white Europeans, one with black AFricans and West Indians. I don't see how this evidences some desire on my part to increase the percentage of "white Europeans." In any event, both examples are merely illustrative and don't exhaust the field.
10.8.2007 5:19pm
Ilya Somin:
I'm not sure that admitting immigrants (or at least not solely immigrants) truly meets the goals of diversity better than admitting native-born blacks or whites. If the goal of diversity is to demonstrate that America is more diverse than their town/neighborhood was, admitting someone from a different socio-economic, region of the US, and different American sub-culture might very well contribute much more to diversity.
Or to put it another way. It might be better to be surprised by American diversity than the "yeah duh" reaction that folks from other countries have different cultures.



2 points:

1. Immigrants are also part of "American" diversity.

2. Even if they are not, I don't see why exposing students to "foreign" diversity is less educational than exposing them to American diversity. And educational benefit is supposedly the heart of the whole diversity rationale.
10.8.2007 5:21pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Ilya, don't deny your desire to bring more of your sinister beet-soup-eating compatriots to our shores.
10.8.2007 5:24pm
calmom:
The political reality of all this race-based discrimination in admission to higher education or jobs is that whites who have been discriminated against or think they have been discriminated against never forget it and become conservative voters ever after.

Americans don't like race-based admissions because they are fundamentally unfair to young adults who have nothing to do with historic racism or with the social environment that may make it harder for some to achieve. Americans want people treated as individuals, not as representatives of any group. Americans believe that no matter how hard you've had it in life, it's your responsibility to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. The law should be color blind in providing equal opportunity. The law does not guarantee equality of outcome.
10.8.2007 5:32pm
allwrits (mail):
At the risk of throwing fuel on the fire, how does one define "minority" purposes of AA. Let's say my wife is multiracial (black, asian &white father / white mother) but "looks" like she may be a racial minority. We have a daughter who is reddish blonde haired, blue eyed, pasty white skin, but if you look really really close a slight trace of black and asian ancestry (let's say her ears or something trite). Does she get AA?

I ask because I just roughly describe a family member &trying to figure out certain forms that ask one to define themselves assumedly for AA or like purposes.
10.8.2007 5:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
allwrits. You make a statement. Nobody's going to take the calipers to your loved one's ears.
I encountered, years ago, somebody who looked pretty Celtic to me, green eyes, red hair, fair skin, long-boned. She was sufficiently Native American to qualify for big time educational benefits absent any need to show a means problem.
Various Native American tribes are occasionally accused of selling certs of authenticity. When you think about it, some of those are worth a LOT of money.
Can you imagine somebody hauled into court to demonstrate the proper antecedents? Never happen.
10.8.2007 5:47pm
Horatio (mail):
Why is Obama considered African-American if he is half White? Shouldn't he be a Halfrican-American? Ditto Halle Berry?

I am so sick and tired of hyphenated-American
10.8.2007 5:48pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I wonder if we should start studying the successful US minority groups to determine the characteristics that lead to their disproportionate success? For example, what is it about Asian and Jewish Americans that leads to their academic success? What is it about American Blacks that leads to their athletic success?
10.8.2007 5:54pm
Smokey:
Affirmative Action is a misnomer. The correct term is Affirmative Racism. It is based 100% on race, not merit. For every person given preference for an admission based upon their race, another person is discriminated against.

And as for Tutins' unequivocal, one size fits all statement:
"Whites and Asians are prejudiced especially against U.S. blacks."
Speak for yourself, race-baiter. That attitude constitutes a huge part of the problem.
10.8.2007 5:59pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Americans don't like race-based admissions because they are fundamentally unfair to young adults who have nothing to do with historic racism or with the social environment that may make it harder for some to achieve.


The old aristocracy, at least, had a sense of noblesse oblige. The new one's attitude is "I got mine. Too bad about you."
10.8.2007 6:06pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
"Whites and Asians are prejudiced especially against U.S. blacks."
Speak for yourself, race-baiter. That attitude constitutes a huge part of the problem.

I used to ride public transportation through the ghetto. I used to work with gang members -- not in the social worker sense but in the factory worker sense. If you're trying to persuade me that whites and asians don't have preformulated ideas about blacks, you'd better come up with a better argument. Put it this way, no one is saying, "There's no need for affirmative action; everyone knows blacks are as good as anyone else and often a damn sight better."
10.8.2007 6:12pm
roystgnr:
white males are a major beneficiary of a silent affirmative action themselves. If grades and test scores alone were the criteria for admission to elite institutions of higher education, white males would become a vanishing breed, because white females have so outdistanced them academically in recent years

As one such "beneficiary" who had a perfect SAT score going into college and no girlfriend for my first two years there, I think I can speak for much of my demographic when I request that colleges maintain a gender-blind admissions process. I assure you that decreasing male/female ratios will only alleviate, not create, problems of vanishing breeding.
10.8.2007 6:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"If grades and test scores alone were the criteria for admission to elite institutions of higher education, white males would become a vanishing breed, because white females have so outdistanced them academically in recent years"

So what? Publish the admissions criteria, and let the chips fall where they will. Take name, race, and gender off the application and let the games begin.

Do law schools still keep names off papers and tests when they are graded? How's that working?
10.8.2007 6:29pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
perfect SAT score going into college and no girlfriend for my first two years there

This shows the inadequacy of the SAT score as a measure of merit. In the old days, a young man would achieve merit by performing a good work, such as slaying a dragon, that would entitle him to a reward, such as the love of a lady fair. Even 5's on all one's AP exams wouldn't measure up to that.
10.8.2007 6:31pm
cathyf:
If you consider the counting statistics, you should expect that minorities as the handful of very top schools should do better in relationship to whites than at schools not at the top. The problem is that in the entire cohort of qualified minorities, who range from top-gun genius to barely qualified, there is a deficit of numbers at every level. So what happens when it comes to admissions? The Level 1 schools (Harvard, Princeton) grab the Level 1 and Level 2 minorities. The Level 2 schools (Yale, Chicago, Stanford, Caltech) grab the Level 3 and Level 4 minorities. The Level 3 schools get the Level 5 and 6 minorities, etc. So by the time you get to the bulk of the nationally-ranked liberal arts colleges, almost all of the minorities who are even minimally able to go to college have been snapped up by the better schools.

But anyway, the obvious arithmetic is such that at the very top all of the students of all races are very very good. It's when you get down to the Michigan State level of things that you end up with racial stratification -- virtually all of the top-gun geniuses are asian (because quotas have kept them out of the top schools), virtually all of the blacks and hispanics are hopelessly unqualified (because the top schools have snapped up all of the qualified ones), and whites range between mediocre to unqualified.

If "diversity" is your goal, I think that this stratification is terribly counterproductive. Very few students go to elite schools, so the vast majority of college students go to schools where most of the asian students are smarter than everybody else, most of the white students are smarter than everybody but the asian students, most of the hispanic students are smarter than the blacks, and there are few blacks that are smarter than anybody but some other black students. This seems to me to be a disasterous state of affairs that could well cause students to development life-long prejudices which they would never form in a more representative environment that had not been stripped of all the smart blacks and overloaded with brilliant asians.
10.8.2007 6:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Affirmative Action is a misnomer. The correct term is Affirmative Racism. It is based 100% on race, not merit.

These sorts of comments, which I often see from conservatives, distress me. First of all, it is often the political right in this country that minimizes traditional (i.e., white on minority) racism, saying it all went away 50 years ago, or justifies it, advocating for racial profiling, or coming up with explanations for racist cops, or endorsing arguments like those in "The Bell Curve".

At a very minimum, if you don't know what white-on-minority racism is, acknowledge that it still exists, and think it is a bad thing, you shouldn't be condemning preferences that favor minorities as "racist".

Second, calling preferences "racism" misses a crucial distinction in intention. Traditional racism involved a stereotype of inferiority, and of not being entitled to participate in polite society, as well as pure hatred. In contrast, affirmative action proponents, whatever one wants to say about the merits of the programs, do not feel whites are inferior, are not entitled to participate in polite society, or should be the object of hatred.

Now, one can argue that "benign discrimination" is not benign at all (as Chief Justice Roberts does) or that it should be struck down for the same reasons that other forms of discrimination should be. Those are all plausible arguments. But don't call affirmative action "racist". Racism has a very particular meaning, and this debate gets poisoned by people who portray American society as if the only current victims of discrimination in America are whites.
10.8.2007 7:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Dilan Esper: "At a very minimum, if you don't know what white-on-minority racism is, acknowledge that it still exists, and think it is a bad thing, you shouldn't be condemning preferences that favor minorities as "racist".

Can you tell us specifically what white-on-minority racism is today, and how it has effected the typical black kid born in Seattle in 1989? Has this racism caused the kid to be academically deficient? How has it done this?
10.8.2007 7:11pm
cathyf:
At a very minimum, if you don't know what white-on-minority racism is, acknowledge that it still exists, and think it is a bad thing, you shouldn't be condemning preferences that favor minorities as "racist".
So you have a system where the vast majority of asians and a pretty big fraction of whites go to non-elite schools (because, in the case of most of the whites and some of the asians, they are not good enough to go to elite schools, and in the case of the rest of the asians, because they are good enough but were excluded because they are asians.) And in the system, the vast majority of blacks go to institutions where they are significantly less able than whites and even more inferior than the asians (because their intellectual equals and inferiors among the asian and white populations were kept out of the elite schools.)

So explain how this system "favors" blacks? It certainly doesn't favor whites and asians, who get delusions of grandeur that they are going to be disabused of when they get out into the real world.
10.8.2007 7:19pm
Paul B:
Actually there is a way to have affirmative action in college admissions in which no non-minority student will be denied admission. Pat Buchanan, of all people, wrote a few years back that the way to solve this is for admissions offices to have a separate form that they do not have access to when making admissions decisions. This form would ask non-minority applicants if they would be willing to give up their slot if admitted to a minority candidate with weaker credentials.

After the admissions office made their decision, it would be a simple matter to adjust any shortfalls in desired ethnic groups by randomly choosing from the admitted students who agreed to give up their slot. Given the strong commitment to diversity, racial justice, a more equitable society that we see among the students of elite schools, I'm sure it would be most instructive for schools to release the statistics as to what percentage of non-minority applicants offered to give up their slot if admitted to a deserving minority candidate.
10.8.2007 7:27pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
in the case of the rest of the asians, because they are good enough but were excluded because they are asians

I've got to confess I've never witnessed any sort of massive asian mental domination but, accepting this for the sake of argument, asians cannot be excluded from the top schools because they are asians, but merely because there are far more outstanding asians than there are top school slots to put them in, even if no non-asians are admitted.

The logical solution for the asian numbers problem is for asians to create their own elite institutions; after all, the WASPS built Harvard, Yale, etc., the Catholics built Georgetown, Notre Dame, etc., the Jews built Brandeis, etc. -- it is time for the asians to shoulder their responsibilities instead of continuing to accept free rides from older, more established groups.
10.8.2007 7:50pm
neurodoc:
lyofbrooklyn: The children of the wealthiest 25% of society are 25 times more likely to enroll in selective colleges than the children of the poorest 25% of society. Do you really believe that those children are 25 times more intelligent?
Wow, that really takes the cake for fallacious reasoning! Such a disparity in enrollments could "simply mean that at a given cutoff of SAT scores etc, you would find 25 times more affluent children than poor children." That is very different from "25 times more intelligent," whatever "25 times more intelligent" might be understood to mean.

An IQ score of 130 is 2 standard deviations above the mean of 100, I believe, so someone with a 130 is in the upper 2.5 percentile. Or, in other words, those with IQs of 130 are smarter than 97.5% of people. So now, how many "times" more intelligent does that make the person with IQ 130 when compared to the person with an IQ of 100? If 50% of the population has an IQ of at least 100, while only 2.5% has an IQ of at least 130, are the 130s 20 times as smart (50/2.5) as the 100s? And let's suppose those with IQs of 130 are 500- or even a 1,000-fold more likely to be admitted to an elite university than those with IQs of 100. With such numbers, would it be "fair" that a twenty-fold difference in IQ translated into a 500 or 1000 times greater likelihood of acceptance and enrollment? [CAUTION: No conclusions should be drawn from such specious reasoning.]
10.8.2007 8:10pm
calmom:
Paul B. I love this idea of Buchanan's. It's like those who think we aren't taxed enough taking every conceivable deduction on their own taxes rather than giving extra to the IRS.

The problem with AA (and I hate to call it that) is that it punishes Caucasians and Asians to remedy either social problems in black families or past injustice (however one wants to justify the use of AA). My teens who will be applying to colleges in a few years have absolutely nothing to do with any of that but the 'remedy' will be at their expense.
10.8.2007 8:19pm
neurodoc:
cathf: The Level 1 schools (Harvard, Princeton) grab the Level 1 and Level 2 minorities. The Level 2 schools (Yale, Chicago, Stanford, Caltech) grab the Level 3 and Level 4 minorities.
That's a joke, right? (I'm sorry, I often find it difficult in threads like this one to know when posters mean to be taken seriously and when they don't. If something is not so outrageous or wacko that it could not possibly be misunderstood as a serious expression, please signal it.)
10.8.2007 8:21pm
neurodoc:
Tony Tutins: The old aristocracy, at least, had a sense of noblesse oblige. The new one's attitude is "I got mine. Too bad about you."
Ah, that's why we had those Jewish quotas, they were somehow an expression of the old aristocracy's sense of noblesse oblige. Sure.

There may be fewer "nobles" among us these days, and hence less "noblesse oblige," but what evidence is there to suggest selfishness is a recent phenomenon? Where race is concerned, its my impression that there is less racism in younger generations than in their forebears. Anyone think this isn't so as a general proposition?
10.8.2007 8:33pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The problem with AA (and I hate to call it that) is that it punishes Caucasians and Asians


Do you mean "punished" like the Yale student who was punished by Princeton's failure to admit him? Or some more concrete form of punishment? Again, there are more top GPA/SAT students than elite uni seats for them to fill.
10.8.2007 8:34pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Hey, at least Jews had a quota. Today's youth would seemingly cheerfully go to schools completely free of blacks and Latinos. Remember, every seat taken by a Jew was one less seat for a WASP.
10.8.2007 8:40pm
neurodoc:
Tony Tutins: The logical solution for the asian numbers problem is for asians to create their own elite institutions; after all, the WASPS built Harvard, Yale, etc., the Catholics built Georgetown, Notre Dame, etc., the Jews built Brandeis, etc. -- it is time for the asians to shoulder their responsibilities instead of continuing to accept free rides from older, more established groups.
I'm pretty sure that is a joke. (Really, with so much sarcasm/snark, many times it is hard for me to tell what is and what isn't.)

As for Brandeis, it is true that Jews built it, but it is also true that today there are Jews who want it to be less Jewish, if Jewish at all. (see previous David Bernstein threads about the school)

And while Yale, Brown and others may have been built by WASPs, it is claimed that many of the WASP fortunes which paid for them were the ill-gotten gains of slavery. (Just thought to stir this affirmative action pot a bit more than it already is, if that is possible.)
10.8.2007 8:42pm
calmom:
"Punished" as in not be admitted to the University of Michigan law school when your grades, LSATs and other indicia of legal aptitude were better than those of minorities and going to a lesser law school instead.

It's not just elite schools. It's the police officer who isn't promoted when his scores on the lieutenants exam is better than the minorities promoted. It's in the magnet school that admits students by race rather than ability. It's pervasive and it rankles many Americans. Everyone knows of blonde blue eyed lawyer's kid whose father is Hispanic so he has a Hispanic last name who got preferential treatment. But the Scots-Irish kid whose father drives a truck gets none. It violates Americans ideas of fundamental fairness.
10.8.2007 8:46pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
neurodoc: rather than fight for slices of a fixed pie, people should put their effort into growing the pie. The asian populations at top schools are far beyond their percentage of the population, probably because the U.S. accepted only the cream of Asian immigrants. Perhaps this will change in future generations because of "regression to the mean," and the natural tendancy of immigrant drive to fizzle out with succeeding generations, but I'd plan for more top students rather than fewer.
10.8.2007 8:51pm
neurodoc:
calmom: Americans don't like race-based admissions because they are fundamentally unfair to young adults...
That may be too categoric, at least when speaking of college students themselves. A school that has few minority students, especially African Americans, is likely to be seen as not "cool," and as a result attract fewer top flight applicants than it otherwise would. Maybe some of the non-minorities who are not accepted see affirmative action as fundamentally unfair to them, but it is not the case that all or most of the enrolled non-minority students see it that way, at least not at the two elite schools our kids attended. Could, of course, be that it would be non-PC, and hence non-cool, for students to say otherwise, but I don't think they are faking their acceptance of affirmative action as the "right" thing.
10.8.2007 8:51pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Could, of course, be that it would be non-PC, and hence non-cool, for students to say otherwise, but I don't think they are faking their acceptance of affirmative action as the "right" thing.

neurodoc: I'm going to believe you and assume those opposed are limited to the blog commenters. I never knew any blue-eyed blonds with Spanish surnames, but I do know brown-eyed brunets with Hispanic mothers and Anglo fathers.
10.8.2007 8:59pm
neurodoc:
Paul B: Pat Buchanan, of all people...
Why "of all people"? This conservative who was called out by none other than William Buckley himself as an unequivocal "antisemite" in a 57-page essay on antisemitism in the National Review would be the most likely of people to suggest this "solution."
10.8.2007 9:00pm
neurodoc:
Tony Tutins: Hey, at least Jews had a quota...
This time you are surely kidding. Those Jewish quotas were not there to guarantee that at least a minimum number of Jews would be admitted, they were there to guarantee that not too many would be admitted, and the notion of "too many" was well below the number of well-qualified ones that applied. But you knew that, didn't you?

Today's youth would seemingly cheerfully go to schools completely free of blacks and Latinos.
Do you talk to many college-bound students or those already enrolled, especially at elite schools? Hard for me to believe that you do, if you believe this.

rather than fight for slices of a fixed pie, people should put their effort into growing the pie
What do platitudes like that mean here?

rather than fight for slices of a fixed pie, people should put their effort into growing the pie
Again, I have no idea what your point might be. Am I obtuse? (With all the snark, the too subtle or nuanced, the non sequitors, etc., that flow in some of these threads, I admit to having trouble following at times.)
10.8.2007 9:17pm
neurodoc:
Tony Tutins: Hey, at least Jews had a quota...
This time you are surely kidding. Those Jewish quotas were not there to guarantee that at least a minimum number of Jews would be admitted, they were there to guarantee that not too many would be admitted, and the notion of "too many" was well below the number of well-qualified ones that applied. But you knew that, didn't you?

Today's youth would seemingly cheerfully go to schools completely free of blacks and Latinos.
Do you talk to many college-bound students or those already enrolled, especially at elite schools? Hard for me to believe that you do, if you believe this.

rather than fight for slices of a fixed pie, people should put their effort into growing the pie
What do platitudes like that mean here?

rather than fight for slices of a fixed pie, people should put their effort into growing the pie
Again, I have no idea what your point might be. Am I obtuse? (With all the snark, the too subtle or nuanced, the non sequitors, etc., that flow in some of these threads, I admit to having trouble following at times.)
10.8.2007 9:17pm
Observer (mail):
I'm not sure I accept the premise that the descendants of slaves are necessarily handicapped by that fact and so deserve 200 extra points on the SAT. Why is it that the descendants of slaves can't compete but impoverished immigrants from Asia, the Caribbean, even from Africa, can? Are yellow and brown people who immigrate to the US any less subject to racial discrimination than brown people who are born here?
10.8.2007 10:19pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

impoverished immigrants from Asia

I know two types of impoverished immigrants from Asia, people on the losing side of the Viet Nam war and grad students. They have generally done quite well here, because they were smart and well-educated.
10.8.2007 10:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Doc: I'm saying there are too many "qualified" candidates chasing too few "elite" college seats. Assuming demand for elite schools continues to grow, I think we need to create more elite schools.

Or would you rather just keep adding profs, buildings, and classes to the existing schools? Or, as state universities have done, add branches, say Harvard University-Amherst, or Duke University-Fort Lauderdale?
10.8.2007 11:00pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Tony Tutins,

Trouble is, you can't just "create more elite schools," because "elite educations" are goods of position — whatever you do, "the top schools" are by definition going to be few and hard to get into. So far as teaching is concerned, you can get already get a first-class undergraduate education at an awful lot of schools much easier to get into (and cheaper) than the Ivies. The differences are in the quality of the other students and the cachet of the degree.
10.8.2007 11:42pm
cathyf:
The logical solution for the asian numbers problem is for asians to create their own elite institutions
Well, that used to be Stanford, back in the day that Berkeley had quotas that kept asians out. Stanford, being private, was over 50% asian, even though asians only make up only 20% of the bay area population, back in the day that CA still required racial discrimination against asians in public universities.
10.9.2007 12:03am
theobromophile (www):

A school that has few minority students, especially African Americans, is likely to be seen as not "cool," and as a result attract fewer top flight applicants than it otherwise would.

Possibly... although some students may not care; some African-American students would want to know that they got in on their merits; and some students would want to be part of a school wherein everyone was admitted, irrespective of race.

The proper solution is to the let the market figure it out. Presumably, some percentage of top-flight schools could survive without affirmative action, based on the possible preferences above; many will not. Once equilibrium is achieved, it won't matter.

The problem on the law school level is that the ABA prohibits schools from admitting without regard to race. Prof. Bernstein has more information on this, but I believe that GMU Law once admitted without regard to race, and some 2% of the student population was black. Those students sought out a school where they could be sure that their admission was earned - where they would know, and their peers would know, that they were "only admitted" because they were black. The ABA effectively shut that one down several years back.

The other problem is competition. The preferences are so freakishly severe (see Boalt LSATs) that most black students cannot compete. Half of them end up in the bottom 10% of their class after 1L year. Sure, white students might be happy because they go to a cool, hip, diverse school; administrators might be happy because they look like they are helping to diversify the legal profession; and professors may prefer (if we accept the Grutter rationale) diverse viewpoints; however, that does little to help out the supposed beneficiaries. If we are going to admit black students because they make white students, professors, and administrators feel all warm and fuzzy, shouldn't certain obligations attach?

---

As for making elite schools... yeah, let's just buy some land and make one. Sure, it worked for the Olin Foundation, but most people lack the financial and social capital to start an elite school from the ground up.
10.9.2007 1:54am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I don't mean to start a debate here about what the best rationales for AA actually are -- rather, my point is that current Supreme Court doctrine limits what can be stressed, at least by the actors in charge of formulating the policies.

It shouldn't just be limiting what is "stressed." It should be limiting what is done. Supreme Court rulings are the law of the land, are they not?

But as wm13 pointed out above, the real goal of AA is keeping Al Sharpton off your campus, and if the price of that is illegal "payoffs" in the form of undeserved admissions for memebers of certain groups, many universities are willing to pay it.

So what's going on here is an industry-wide pattern of lying to cover up an industry-wide pattern of lawbreaking. And asking for honest about goals, transparency in methods, and accountability in results is tantamount to demanding the end of affirmative action.

Good luck in achieving it.
10.9.2007 11:58am
A.C.:
Most of this fight goes away when you start framing the matter in socioeconomic terms. Black, white, immigrant, native, blonde Hispanic, or whatever... what we really want is individual educational economic mobility for smart kids from modest (or even poor) backgrounds. That keeps the pot stirring and makes sure that the elite doesn't fossilize in place. There will always be up-and-comers to challenge the old guard.

Looking at a student's RECENT economic background is the best way to figure out what to do. If a person's great-great-great-great grandparents were horribly oppressed, but that same person's grandparents made a fortune and the family has had the best of everything ever since, which should count more when you decide whether to cut that person a break? Or, in reverse, if a person is descended from royalty, but the last three generations of the family have lived in dysfunctional poverty and left their offspring to scramble for themselves, which is more relevant to the credentials of the 18-year-old who presents himself right now?

I'm not advocating socioeconomic AA that puts uneducated gang members into Harvard. What to do about people who fall outside the academic system entirely is a whole separate question from what you do for the various people within the system, especially in close cases. And when I try to answer the second question, I do think it makes sense to adjust one's thinking about abstract merit to take into account the resources a person had available when achieving that merit. You can find an impressive list of differences among individuals -- tutoring and mentoring vs. strict self-reliance, or menial jobs for money vs. posh unpaid internships. One big difference is what sorts of education children get outside of the formal school curriculum, and the answers range from nothing at all to private coaching in everything. It's really, really worth looking at differences like this at the college admission stage.

The problem is that it only tracks partially by race. Unsurprisingly, people who dislike affirmative action get most upset by examples that defy the stereotype of rich white/poor black. Plenty of these examples exist, so why keep using race as a proxy for something that you can measure more directly?

(For all those who say that rich black people don't have the test scores either... doesn't that look like an entrepreneurial opportunity for anyone who can figure out how to change that fact? Someone should get on it. Plenty of other not-so-elite groups have figured out how to make objective measuring schemes count in their favor, and I'm sure that nut can be cracked.)
10.9.2007 1:09pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
A.C. said:
"Most of this fight goes away when you start framing the matter in socioeconomic terms.... Looking at a student's RECENT economic background is the best way to figure out what to do."

So what do you do if/when Chinese immigrant kids do vastly better than African-American kids from the same socioeconomic and family-cohesiveness background?

It's a political reality that many people take it as an axiom that the sole admissible reason for differences in group outcomes is discrimination - and even raising the possibility of questioning that axiom is enough to get one fired from being President of Harvard.

So how is one supposed to run an honest admissions system when honesty is not permitted?
10.9.2007 1:21pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"Plenty of these examples exist, so why keep using race as a proxy for something that you can measure more directly?"

Because that wouldn't give any political or financial benefit to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or their followers.
10.9.2007 1:24pm
A.C.:
Dinging Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be an end in itself, wouldn't it? I would support any policy that irritated them, even if it had no other goal at all.

As for Ralph Phelan's question, you admit the Chinese kids (and all the other poorer kids with excellent credentials) to the Tier 1 school and the African American kids (and all the other poorer kids with slightly less excellent credentials) to the Tier 2 school. Then you tell all the students at the Tier 2 school, regardless of race, that they can transfer up (or go to grad school at a better place) if they work their asses off, but not otherwise. Finally you provide facilities that let students work their asses off, and see who takes advantage of them.

I am confident that African Americans will rise to the occasion. This country has had lots of immigrant groups that initially didn't value education the same way Jewish and some Asian groups did. Most have come around, and others are coming around.
10.9.2007 2:53pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
A.C.:

I would love to see the system you describe.
So long as the people who hounded out Larry Summers are running academia, and so long as Sharpton and Jackson are treated seriously by American politics and media, it's not gonna happen.
10.9.2007 4:27pm
Aaron:
It seems that all of you are discounting the enormous effect that culture has had on educational achievement.

AA was instituted because there was a systematic, concerted effort to destroy familial and cultural bonds among slaves; those efforts continued into the reconstruction period, and the Jim Crow era.

Historically, Jews and East Asians have achieved educational achievements because each group came to this country with a culture that valued education. The modern parallel can be found with immigrant African and West Indian peoples, who did not suffer the fracturing of their families and cultures as did native born Blacks.

Indeed, AA has had some remarkable success in the segment of the American-born Black population who had some semblance of stability in their family structures - these are the ones who are gaining the greatest advantage from AA.

However, a substantial population of Blacks haven't yet overcome the hurdles that centuries of discrimination and economic warfare have placed into their path. Worse, these Blacks are in competition, not only with their better positioned Black cousins, but with those aforementioned African and Carribbean immigrants, who may look like the intended beneficiaries of AA, but but whose struggle and experience more closely resembles that of other immigrants, rather than the descendants of the American chattel slavery system and its aftermath.

Despite this failing, the group which was best positioned to benefit from AA, white women, has never borne the brunt of white male backlash; instead, the conflict has always been against Blacks.
10.9.2007 8:02pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Given the benefits that flow from affirmative action, there will always be plenty of individuals seeking them. Given also the fact that "race" is largely a social construct, what do you do with the millions of people who fall "between the cracks" racially? If I have a Black parent, am I black? What if I am light-skinned? When does someone become "black enough"?

Aren't we a step away from the ante-bellum system of racist consciousness? Octaroons weren't white enough then; now they aren't black enough!?! Isn't that enough to convince you folks that this is a dangerous and stupid road to go down?

Especially when there is a perfectly clear alternative-- give out scholarships based primarily on financial hardship! It will cover disproportional numbers of African-Americans, as well as other deserving minorities. It will also avoid the problem of giving financial aid to Bill Cosby's kids. Finally, it will put to bed the lie that the goal of university admissions is some mythical "diversity." Just getting rid of that insulting bit of nonsense is reason alone to follow this path!
10.10.2007 11:25am
Ray Fuller (mail):
In response to Michelle Dulak Thomson:
Asian-American students are already "disfavored" at most elite private ---and even public--- colleges and universities. If they were not, today their populations would constitute a super-majority of students at the "best" institutions of higher education, if students were to be judged on "merit" alone. You might well consider this discrimination, but I view this situation as "merely" rejecting objective measures of "merit", namely grades and test scores, as the sole criteria for undergraduate and graduate school admissions. Human beings cannot be reduced to mere numbers, no matter how convenient that is administratively (especially for law school admission purposes, for example), and no matter how much that offends the resulting deprived beneficiary of such measurements.
"Merit" is an elusive concept, and grades and test scores are inadequate measures of meritorious persons, no matter what their ethnicity. There must be academic minimums, of course, but why should they be higher for any ethnic or economic group today than those that applied to the alumni of those colleges and uviversities in the not-so-distant past. Thus, the academic credentials of the elite college-educated parents of today's white college applicant, during the 1950's and 1960's on average, were no higher than those of today's black applicant to those same elite colleges. So the black applicant of today should never be considered to be totally lacking academic merit, even if (s)he is not absolutely "competitive" with today's white or asian applicant. Blacks admitted under affirmative action policies to elite institutions of higher education, both undergraduate and graduate, have proved themselves capable of surviving and graduating, in percentages comparable to their white and asian counterparts. That demonstrable experience proves that AA blacks are minimally academically competent, equal to the task, and successful. They have proven their "merit". And American society is the better for it, in my view. During my lifetime, blacks were being murdered with impunity by the KKK, their churches and homes burned to the ground, and their right to dignity publicly affronted daily be being ushered to the back of the bus, denied hotel rooms and restaurant seats, and forced to use worse black bathrooms and schools. The social revolution that has occurred in so short a time is amazing, and racial relations cannot but be advanced by integrating elite universities, down to this day even.

In response to roystgner: Good humor. Poor logic. You were no beneficiary of silent affirmative action for less "meritorious" white males. I personally believe in a balance of gender and ethnicity in higher education admissions. Schools segregated by sex or race offend the ideals of this country for equality and social justice. Social segregation of any kind undermines the basis for a common social contract, namely, a common life experience and interaction of all groups within American society.

In response to Elliott123: Letting the chips fall where they may makes for poor social (and educational) policy, if the result is fundamentally unfair and counterproductive. The profound effects of past racial segregation will take more time to overcome. Schools provide a fundamental door to individual opportunity and social progress, and should not be closed again as they were in the past (by overt discrimination) to blacks and the poor.
10.10.2007 7:03pm
Smokey:
The more you think about it, the more it appears that certain races are now being treated as a kind of nobility, and therefore entitled to special treatment, which commoners are not entitled to. It may not go as far as primogeniture and entail - but when someone is annointed to fill a desirable slot at a prestigious university simply because of their race, then another [commoner] is racially discriminated against.

If that is not blatant racism, what is?

It's also akin to the constitution's restriction on 'corruption of blood,' which was used to punish someone's decendants for their parents' or grandparents' misdeeds.

Why is it OK to punish someone by booting them out of the Harvard queue in favor of someone from the Carribean, who happens to possess the proper amount of melatonin?

Affirmative Action Racism is damned un-American. No two ways about it.
10.10.2007 7:10pm
Smokey:
Ray Fuller:
"Merit" is an elusive concept, and grades and test scores are inadequate measures of meritorious persons, no matter what their ethnicity.
Says who? Do we throw out all objective testing, and annoint someone [you, maybe?] to be the final arbiter of who shall and who shall not be a 'meritorious person?'

Ya know, that's exactly what proponents of Affirmative Racism claim they're doing. The problem, of course, is that someone who studied hard rather than partying gets the shaft for no other reason than they are not a member of a government-favored race.

Hey, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Too bad for the student who studied his ass off. He just picked the wrong parents, that's all.
10.10.2007 7:38pm
RayFuller (mail):
Smokey, I would not arrogate to myself the power or ability to determine who is more "meritorious" than another, but admissions officers should be sufficiently capable of making those fine distinctions in order to well-balance classes at their educational institutions. I do believe that so-called "objective testing" is not necessarily objective, and more importantly that it cannot sufficiently measure all relevant meritorious qualities of any individual, in the context of competitive admissions.

As a personal beneficiary of objective testing myself in gaining admissions to universities in the past, I would not throw it out entirely, either. It is just not the be-all and end-all of the selection process. But testing well, just as working hard academically, should properly be recognized as proper measures of merit, too. They just cannot be sufficient to effectively bar the door of elite education to blacks and the poor. "Merit" has become too easy a modern-day substitute for the invidious racial and class discrmination of the past. "Eggs" need not be broken or scrambled in order to permit minority access to the prestige inherent at elite universities. Those in the majority rejected and denied such prestige still have plenty of other good educational options and paths to success in life. They even probably need less of an affirmative "boost" than the few blacks and poors admitted in their place. It truly is incredible how rich whites can be so exercised over the paltry actual numbers of underepresented minorities and poor students being admitted to elite institutions. the apt analogy is: "making a mountain out of a molehill." And affirmative action has less to do with parentage, than "inheritance" (as in blacks inheriting the residuals of historical racism). Peace out.
10.11.2007 1:11am