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January 23, 2003

Hix from the Stix & Boyz from the Hood @ Yale

Nick Kristoff, my fellow Imblerian, has a vapid and shallow article on affirmative action up:

It also made sense to accept me over a more qualified applicant from Bronx Science: It's good for colleges to have hicks from the sticks, to tease city slickers and coach them on the differences between a gilt, a barrow and sows that farrow. And it's even more important to have black students in those late-night dorm discussions; how can college graduates understand the world and have intelligent views on racial matters (such as affirmative action) if they've never mixed with people of other races?

Nick plays up the fact that GW wouldn't have made it into Yale on merits alone. Probably not. But though that is a point to bring up-that does not negate the position that affirmative action does not do justice to the principle of a meritocracy. As they say-two wrongs don't make a right. Also, I am interested where Nick thinks black students are widening horizons and opening the dialogue. Let me be frank: the identity politics on campuses creates hermetically sealed social units that have highly formalized and artificial style of communication. In other words-you can go four years in college not getting to know black kids (or white kids) because political correctness tends to restrict what one can explore, and inhibitions created by sensitivity conditioning tends to dampen down the give & take that normally occurs in relaxed social settings. I went to a relatively non-selective college, and even there it occurred. I can't imagine what it must be like at highly selective schools where underrepresented minorities are simply not in the same class as other students-and everyone knows it.

On Nick's point about urban vs. rural, this sort of back & forth does occur-I went to a rural high school in eastern Imbler, and was the "dorm hick" so to speak. But the urban vs. rural chasm is not as stark, not institutionally formalized, so there was no great tension when someone accused me of swinging up to Oregon State University's ag science department to do the deed with some form of even-toed-ungulate. I laughed it off, what else could I expect from jaded city kids from the suburbs of Portland? :)

A final note, as far as affirmative action in higher education goes, private universities can go ahead and practice it, though the diversion of public funds might be cause for concern, but I see no reason that state supported universities should stand for it. State colleges should concentrate on producing professionals with marketable skills-this is explicit in the Land Grant schools, but implicit in the idea of public support for higher education generally, for it will only go to a minority of any generation (to some extent, the working class that pays taxes is partially subsidizing the training of those who might be their future doctors, accountants and engineers). The problem with affirmative action at highly selective state schools is that the kids who get in under quota targets aren't prepared for academically demanding subjects. So you end up with the creation of "Studies" that focus in on ethnicity, gender, etc. utilizing the full array of post-modern hocus pocus to make sure that they graduate since no one is expected to be rigorous and intelligible anyway (defining deviancy downward so to speak). So state universities end up churning out the next generation of racial activists, not the practical professionals they were intended to produce. (this is not limited to the United States, Malaysia for instance churns out plenty of Malays with Islamic Studies degrees-laudable for the hereafter, but rather useless unless you can get a position as an Islamic judge in some woman-stoning backwater)

Posted by razib at 09:58 PM

Razib, at Berkeley, the dirty secret (back in the old affirmative action days) was that blacks/Latinos were admitted under vastly looser standards, would struggle through their first two years, then to drop out and be replaced by smarter, harder-working white working class kids who transferred from community colleges. I have a cousin who graduated from Berkeley this way. Undoubtedly he had "taken the place" of a black or Latino kid who had dropped out. It's mildly unfair to the white kid who has to start out at a no-prestige j.c., but this is terribly cruel to the minority kid who shouldn't have been admitted to Berkeley and finds that he can't keep up.

My cousin ended up in a Ph.D. program at U Mich Ann Arbor. Where does a minority kid who dropped out of UC Berkeley end up, I wonder?

Posted by: Diana at January 24, 2003 06:38 AM

Exactly, Diana - isn't there a study that showed that the black kids' graduation rates increased while their population rates at elite colleges dropped when California put in some new rules for admissions?

Posted by: Shanti at January 24, 2003 07:43 AM

I remember reading something about that....

....but what interests me most is how Uni administrators learn to micro-adjust to the facts...when this situation was pretty much institutionalized in California, I'll just bet that these administrators learned to "overlook" that junior college stain on a kid's transcript and concentrate on where he _graduated_ from, not where he started out.

All this is called by the race hustlers glass ceilings, or institutionalized racism...they can't come out and admit that what's holding black/Latino kids back is substandard performance, not racism.

Posted by: Diana at January 24, 2003 09:39 AM

Ward Connerly said as much--something to the effect of "Is it better to admit minorities into UC-Berkeley under lowered standards and have them drop out after 2 years or have them go to UC-Riverside and graduate with a degree in 4?"

Posted by: David at January 24, 2003 01:35 PM

I've never found that balkanizing studies at state universities to be terribly successful. Of course I realize that when I attended Imbler State that there were, hmm, "enemies" of a liberal arts education there, but I always found their attitudes parochial at best. Anyway, I find the author's point on this view insulting.

Posted by: Sarah Meadows at January 24, 2003 02:15 PM

Diana, given what I've heard about the huge lecture halls at Berkeley (knew guys who transferred from there to a different UC campus where I was) for basic courses the white kids who are forced to spend 2 years at a j.c. might be getting a better education in the basics if the class sizes are smaller.

Razib, the Islamic Studies courses in Malaysia are doing real damage by encouraging the Islamization of Malay society and I wouldn't be surprised if they were increasing the chance that the kids might decide to become terrorists.

Posted by: Randall Parker at January 24, 2003 03:43 PM


about 30% of the students at the University of Imbler when i went were from california. the main reason they came to the UofO was they they didn't want to spend 5-6 years in college, because the UC system was always overwhelmed with full classes. and the high tuition-even in state now-meant that the extra year & and half vs. 4 years out-of-state at the University of Oregon wasn't that big of a deal in terms of financial costs.

or so they told me....

Posted by: razib at January 24, 2003 04:24 PM

Hmm... all this talk of affirmative action in college campuses has got me wondering...

According to the last census, 13% of Canada' population now consists of visible minorities. Yet, interestingly, not a single University in Canada has adopted a race-based affirmative action policy in its college admissions process.

This may be due to the fact that most of Canada's visible minorities consist of high-performing Asians - Chinese and Indians who don't require affirmative action to get into the elite colleges like the University of Toronto or Unviersity of Waterloo. There was actuallyl national outcry here recently over a federal MP who bemoaned that university spots in Canada were being swallowed up by an "Asian invasion".

Of a total population of about 31 million, Chinese now number close to 1.1 million and South Asians about 0.9 million. There are few Blacks (in relation to the American or British Black population) and hardly any Latinos. The link to the Statistics Canada Census Bureau is below.


I just read in the last American census that Hispanics have now surpassed African-Americans as the largest minority group. This means that 25% of America is now Black/Latino. If immigration is the future, this could pose some deep and unsettling problems for our neighbours to the south. If America's progress becomes stunted by a growing population of underperforming minorities, then America may very well soon be overtaken by nations that attract and accept industrious East and South Asians, such as Canada and Australia.

Posted by: Sen at January 24, 2003 05:39 PM

Adifferent point of view on afffirimative action concerning theMich Law school, who cares about lawyers they really dont produce anything except expensive paper anyway, so what difference does it make if a few more or minorities.

Posted by: Dan at January 24, 2003 05:44 PM

Diana wrote:
"My cousin ended up in a Ph.D. program at U Mich Ann Arbor. "

Interestingly, AA has paradoxically contributed to improving the caliber of many 'less selective' schools.

Since so many top quality non- protected minority students are going to other traditionally 'less selective' institutions, there is much less of a gap between 'more selective' and 'less selective' institions. Obviously, Harvard is better than Chico St. But, Berkeley compared to UMich seems more a wash- outside the gridiron.

The gap is even much closer in graduate/ professional schools. A PhD from Illinois(?) in Chem Engineering was good enough for GM to promote Jack Welch many times. They and most corporations didn't care he didn't go Ivy League. Same with Lee Iacococa (sic) who got an MBA from Syracuse. The list goes on...

Posted by: -R at January 24, 2003 06:11 PM

well-everyone should remember that places like harvard could have far higher SAT average scores than they currently have-lots of smart people go other places while arguably less smart (minority and non-minority) get their slot. imagine a harvard with the average SAT score of 1550 instead of 1450. how the hell would do curves? (ignoring grade inflation of course)

Posted by: razib at January 24, 2003 06:54 PM

Randall, jcs may give better education, yeah, but their prestige is non-existent.

But who cares about prestige? As R points out, Jack Welch has a Ph. D. Chem Engineering from UMass (not Illinois; check it out--Cindy Crawford studied chem engineering at U Ill for a while!).

Lotsa CEOs are engineering grads from land-grant colleges & unis, a fact not remarked upon nearly enough.

Posted by: Diana at January 24, 2003 07:23 PM

Left unmentioned is Balkanization, plus the outright cost to society financially.

As for "Hispanics" making up such a huge portion of the U.S. population, why, that's a Big Lie. There are around 10 million illegal aliens in the U.S. The majority of them are from Central America. Deduct these numbers and the number of "Hispanics" in the U.S. craters.

Posted by: Roger Chaillet at January 24, 2003 08:26 PM

"Interestingly, AA has paradoxically contributed to improving the caliber of many 'less selective' schools." -R

I beleive CCNY had academic standards comparable to the ivy league in the fifties because jews were banned and went there instead.Of course,this collapsed in the 60's due to open admissions and lowered standards,typical marxist utopianism.

Posted by: at January 25, 2003 05:58 AM

Roger, yeah, but they won't be deported. They'll stay and have kids.

Posted by: Diana at January 25, 2003 12:10 PM

They WILL be deported! I'm actively involved in the immigration restrictionist movement, and I assure you and the others that change is coming much faster than most realize. One telltale sign will be if and when additional attacks occur upon American (sic) soil once the assault on Iraq begins. Once this happens, the open borders crackpots like George Bush will have no choice but to expel illegals and seal the borders.

Posted by: Roger Chaillet at January 25, 2003 04:36 PM

Roger,I'm afraid it will take a very large body count to shift the inertia in regards to immigration.In fact,de facto secession as we see along the SW border as people do for themselves what the state simply refuses to do is more likely,forcing D.C. to publicly choose sides.

Posted by: M. at January 25, 2003 05:16 PM

Just to stick up for my grad school alma mater, the University of Illinois is a top 10 Engineering school (top 5 in many fields) and is across the board better at engineering than any Ivy League school with the exception of Cornell.

The Ivies are all about the old traditional LAS fields, and law/business/medicine. Low class newby fields like engineering are far less exceptional there, at the schools that even offer such things. If you want an engineering degree, you're better off going to a random Big Ten school than a random Ivy.

Posted by: Doug Turnbull at January 27, 2003 02:34 PM