Colleges and universities across the country lower admissions standards to increase “diversity.” You don’t need a study to tell you that, but it doesn’t hurt. Studies measure, examine, and analyze the data to give us hard numbers.
Government-supported schools in California, where racial preferences are illegal, continue to factor race into admissions. One method used is “holistic” review. Under holistic review, the admissions committees give more consideration to black and Hispanic applicants’ so-called leadership skills, hard-luck stories, and other non-academic factors than they do for white and Asian applicants. Since grades and scores of the latter group tend to be higher than the former, committees de-emphasize the numbers for the former.
In a recently published book, Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA, Tom Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor, measured the school’s use of holistic review. From Fox News:
While the first round of admissions consideration is handled fairly, African-American students are nearly three times as likely to make it out of the “maybe” pile than equally-qualified white students, and more than twice as likely as Asians…
After a first look results in most applications being either accepted or rejected, a handful of senior university staff sift through those marked for further consideration, according to Groseclose. That’s where the alleged bias happens. He found black applicants were accepted at a 43 percent rate in the second round, while whites were accepted at a 15 percent rate and Asians at an 18 percent rate.
In 1996, 54 percent of California voters barred their government from discriminating against or granting preferences to individuals or groups on the basis of race and sex in government hiring, contracting, and admissions. In 2005, the state legislature tried to reinstate discrimination, but a judge knocked down the attempt. What UCLA and other schools in that state do is illegal. California voters chose a race-neutral government, but schools like UCLA openly flout not only the law but the principle.
Groseclose said he thinks schools commonly lie about using preferences, and that race outweighs class when it comes to admissions. Blacks from families making over $100,000 are twice as likely to be accepted in round two of the process as whites and Asians from families making $30,000 with similar scores, grades, and essays.
The article mentioned UCLA law professor Richard Sander, who came up with the “mismatch” theory, the idea that minorities with lower grades and scores would be better off in academic environments that matched their academic levels. Instead, schools admit them into environments where they’re outmatched. Racial preferences themselves, and not opposition to them, reinforce negative stereotypes and stigmatize minorities. Sander believes that if minorities were better matched to their schools, they’d more likely get better grades and graduate more often and on time (and pass the bar at higher rates).
Why are we opposed to the lowering of standards based on race? We believe in a race-neutral government. Colorblind laws. To achieve this end, the government must stop factoring race into hiring, contracting, and admissions decisions. It doesn’t matter that some race-neutral policies impact one racial group more than another. Any attempt to “fix” it inevitably leads to violating someone else’s rights. A government that favors one race over the other can arbitrarily switch loyalties, so to speak, and wield disfavor in the other direction.
Life is unfair and unequal, and no government policy will ever change that. The best we can do is ensure individuals that their government will not penalize them based on the color of their skin, and that they’re equal before the law.
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