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February 03, 2003

Quick entry....

What I've been saying....does it benefit minorities to be admitted to colleges they don't do well in?

"Preferential admissions keep drawing many insufficiently prepared blacks and Hispanics onto selective campuses where their chances of succeeding drop dramatically. In what sense is this a progressive idea?"

Razib adds:

And why would university presidents care about graduation rates or GPAs if their #1 criteria for evaluation of "diversity" is the freshmen or even general student body head counts?

Another thing-this article is a longer exploration of the book. There are many choice quotes on both sides. But this caught my attention:

"It is blatantly indefensible to suggest that black and Latino students never experience discrimination in grading," he says. "There are stereotypes about their abilities and subterranean animosity towards these kids by professors."

Well, yeah, if you mean soft fields, but if you take math, physics or chemistry, and most biology the grading is pretty straightforward (to the irritation of many students), but I don't think those were the classes the person in question was talking about [1]. Also note that more whites (43%) had higher GPAs than Asians (40%). I suspect this might be attributable to the fact that Asians take hard science and engineering majors more often, which have lower GPAs on average. Also, the perception that black & Latino students are on average less capable is probably grounded in the fact that these kids come in with lower GPAs and test scores and almost surely tend to cluster in the bottom of the curve in any grade distributions (this applies mostly to selective/elite schools especially).

[1] I am sure there are old school professors that can't judge the essays of people from other cultures very well-I have heard Korean theology students complain that their white professors simply don't have a good understanding of their conception of the religion and so grade them down as not having a good grasp of the material. On the other hand, this should be balanced out by diversity tokenism in this day & age.

Posted by david at 11:34 AM

Not to mention the perceived "tainting" of the minority student who does achieve, which has been brought up before.

Posted by: Grady Gunn at February 3, 2003 12:51 PM

let us not focus on prof. sports, they are numerically inconsequential, what about entertaintment as a whole? not just big bands and movie stars, but the actor that's waiting during days or the musician that makes a middle class living off jazz? where are the asians in these fields? it seems that asians are found mostly in classical music, they need to "break out" of the ghetto. where are the asian comedians? arts programs in colleges should do asian-american outreach. THE NEW YORK TIMES should have a once yearly article titled "Asians in the Arts?" to go along with "Blacks in Science?"

Posted by: razib at February 3, 2003 03:43 PM

"It is blatantly indefensible to suggest that black and Latino students never experience discrimination in grading," he says. "There are stereotypes about their abilities and subterranean animosity towards these kids by professors."

The stupid thing about this quote is that academia is dominated (at least in the non- sciences) by left wingers. The speaker probably represents one of those individuals yet wants to 'eat his cake too' by then accusing academicians of grade discrimination.

I'd love to see this asshole explain how S/E Asians do so well despite their non- White phenotypes or name exactly which professors are discriminating against which students... What a jerk.

Posted by: -R at February 3, 2003 06:45 PM

Most people seem to focus on whether or not using race as a factor in university admissions is fair to the other students competing for those admissions, who might have better GPAs or test scores. I think of it more in what benefit it provides to other students at that university.

I'd like to point out that there are other factors schools consider in the admissions process besides GPA and test scores: athletic, artistic, musical, or leadership abilities, life experiences, etc. They consider these things not just for the sake of the student applying but for the sake of the whole student body. Just like the whole school benefits from having students with leadership characteristics, I think it also benefits from having a diverse student body. I think schools should be able to use race as a factor in admitting students, not for those students' benefit, but for the benefit of the all the students.

The diversity at my current school has definitely benefited me. Prior to attending school here, I had never met a Muslim before. I had previously lived in very white communities and so I was a little freaked out for the first month or so at my current school by all the minorities (there were several situations in which there were more "people of color" then white people in the room -- something I had never experienced before!). Now I am much more comfortable with people of different races and backgrounds, and I've learned a lot about different cultures.

So I have no problem with universities using race as a criteria if they want to. However, I think we should privatize them all, so that tax dollars are not supporting this practice, and that these policies should be up to the individual university, not legislated by the government. Then individuals can choose for themselves where they would like to go based on each university's policies (if they care) and no one is forced to support anything they disagree with.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 3, 2003 09:55 PM


Why not take an unattended bus trip through the Mideast alone? That way you could meet all the Muslims you'd want.

BTW, be sure to wear something to cover your head and face. They might think you're a Western harlot otherwise.

Posted by: Roger Chaillet at February 4, 2003 05:34 AM

Jacqueline--It's good that you're more comfortable with non-white, non-Christian folks. However, I think your transition would have been pretty easy in the workforce too. Unless someone's a racist jerk, it's pretty easy to "adjust" to new cultures as you meet them. So I don't see that as a real good reason to support AA in college.

As an aside, I went to an undergrad institution that was nearly all white (the University of Wisconsin). Then I went to Berkeley (40% Asian, 40% white and about 20% "other"). I too didn't have any problems. Would this help me prepare for the working world? Well, at EACH and EVERY of my job interviews (about 8 so far), I was interviewed by 1, 2, even 4 people. Each and every one was a white dude. One company I visited. It was small enough and an "open office" so you could see all the workers. Out of about 90 employees, 70 were white men. 15 were white women. There were a couple South Asians and a couple black women and a Hispanic man rounding out the rest.

So much for "diversity training" helping me out there.


Posted by: David at February 4, 2003 10:14 AM