November 18, 2006

Weekend Question 2: Who Is Being Hurt by the Diversity Movement?

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 4:28 pm

ANSWER: In academic admissions to elite schools, the answer is “other minority groups.”

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From Jonah Goldberg’s November 15 Townhall column:

It’s time to admit that “diversity” is code for racism. If it makes you feel better, we can call it “nice” racism or “well-intentioned” racism or “racism that’s good for you.” Except that’s the rub: It’s racism that may be good for you if “you” are a diversity guru, a rich white liberal, a college administrator or one of sundry other types. But the question of whether diversity is good for “them” is a different question altogether, and much more difficult to answer.

If by “them” you mean minorities such as Jews, Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans and other people of Asian descent, then the ongoing national obsession with diversity probably isn’t good. Indeed, that’s why Jian Li, a freshman at Yale, filed a civil rights complaint against Princeton University for rejecting him. Li had nigh-upon perfect test scores and grades, yet Princeton turned him down. He’ll probably get nowhere with his complaint – he did get into Yale after all – but it shines a light on an uncomfortable reality.

“Theoretically, affirmative action is supposed to take spots away from white applicants and redistribute them to underrepresented minorities,” Li told the Daily Princetonian. “What’s happening is one segment of the minority population is losing places to another segment of minorities, namely Asians to underrepresented minorities.”

Li points to a study conducted by two Princeton academics last year which concluded that if you got rid of racial preferences in higher education, the number of whites admitted to schools would remain fairly constant. However, without racial preferences, Asians would take roughly 80 percent of the positions now allotted to Hispanic and black students.

In other words, there is a quota – though none dare call it that – keeping Asians out of elite schools in numbers disproportionate to their merit. This is the same sort of quota once used to keep Jews out of the Ivy League – not because of their lack of qualifications, but because having too many Jews would change the “feel” of, say, Harvard or Yale. Today, it’s the same thing, only we’ve given that feeling a name: diversity.

The greater irony is that it is far from clear that diversity is good for black students either. Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, notes that there is now ample empirical data showing that the supposed benefits of diversity in education are fleeting when real and often are simply nonexistent. Black students admitted to universities above their skill level often do poorly and fail to graduate in high numbers. UCLA law professor Richard Sander found that nearly half of black law students reside in the bottom 10 percent of their law-school classes. If they went to schools one notch down, they might do far better.

Well, there’s a solution to that: Let’s carry this nonsense to its logical conclusion, and establish quotas for who gets to graduate, and then for who actually gets to have jobs. Then there can be double-dip triple-dip discrimination (admissions, graduation, AND employment) against high-achieving Asians and other minorities. Employers won’t get what they expect out of college graduates, but hey, what’s more important, getting work done or being politically correct?

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8 Comments

  1. Tom – I am not sure how you would spin this in, but are you aware that starting a few years ago, schools worked hard to recruit more Jews because out of all the subgroups that take the standardized admission tests, Jews ranked second and raise the school\’s average score for incoming classes?

    Comment by Jill — November 18, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  2. Tom – I might have gotten the html wrong on that last comment – feel free to fix! Sorry. :)

    Comment by Jill — November 18, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

  3. The situation with proactively recruiting Jews just shows you how crazy the pretzel-twisting logic gets when you start looking for ethnicity instead of talent.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 18, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  4. If you want to increase scores, why not just admit people based on scores? That’s a big old -duh-.

    Of course, one wouldn’t get the properly diverse mix in the student body. And certain departments would lack for students (aw, poor tenured profs).

    Which reminds me, shouldn’t they have quotas by department? I think various representatives of underrepresented groups should be drafted into the undiverse majors, such as physics, elementary education, mechanical engineering, women’s studies, etc. It’s only fair.

    Comment by meep — November 19, 2006 @ 9:10 am

  5. Well, now, let’s not misrepresent what was going on. They weren’t looking for ethnicity per se – they were looking for the numbers that came with the Jewish students and how those numbers would pump up the school’s attraction to others. In other words, they almost wanted to take as short a route as possible to make it look like they do in fact attract talent, without having to work so hard to get talented kids with the school’s profile, but inflating the profile with some kids who happen to have really good scores, and are Jewish. That’s how I read Vanderbilt and the other schools’ efforts.

    Comment by Jill — November 19, 2006 @ 10:04 am

  6. #4, don’t give ‘em any ideas. :–>

    #5, Okay, I’ll agree with that. It does seem quite cynical and manipulative, and the kids who are quoted at some of the links you sent (thanks!) were seeing through it.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 19, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  7. What I find fascinating about the approach is how transparent it was – I mean, I’m glad they didn’t try to hide it, but it is rather audacious, don’t you think?

    Eh – you know, I remember what it was like in the Yale Development office during the times when admission letters were going out and how the program directors assessed the impact of which legacies got in and were rejected.

    Working in a college admissions office is not for the weak.

    Comment by Jill — November 19, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  8. #7, no doubt.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 19, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

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