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Did anyone listen to the oral arguments in the Harvard/UNC cases yesterday?
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Has Achieved Nirvana
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posted
By the time I turned it on UNC was done, but I heard much of the Harvard case. My takeaways:

The SFFA guy was either nervous or just emotional. But he had the better case and he knew it. The discrimination was so blatant and they have the receipts.

Our Solicitor General is not that good generally speaking. Her strategy seemed to be to convince them to remand the case rather than rule on it.

The lawyer for Harvard was as good as he could be, but it was impossible to overcome the basic contradictions in their case - they tried to minimize the effect of race in their process while at the same time saying that if they stopped using it black matriculations would plummet.

There's no question that AA is done for, and I have yet to hear a single commentator opine otherwise. Even Roberts showed his hand. The only question is how sweeping the ruling will be.


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Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
czarina
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I haven't been following this closely, but have noticed several headlines referring to AA being on the way out.

I am wondering what my pals at WTF think about this. Do you agree it should come to an end? If so, why? Or why shouldn't it?

I have very mixed feelings about it. People who are highly qualified but were in the past denied admission because of their demographic of course should be admitted. It's when you have people who are unprepared and/or unqualified who are admitted on the basis of being a minority only that the problems begin.

And yet I realize that if that minority group is to get access, it has to start somewhere, somehow.

What is the best way to achieve that?


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Posts: 20875 | Registered: 18 May 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pinta & the Santa Maria
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I listened to parts of it. I was interested in, as Jon says, the "basic contradictions" in the case. Both UNC and Harvard said that using affirmative action/race in admissions would be to the detriment of White and Asian applicants, which is odd because Asians are a protected class. So there are definitely situations where highly qualified Asians are rejected because if applicants were assessed based on merit alone, the majority of incoming freshmen in highly competitive schools would be predominantly Asian. I don't think that's fair, but you can't cherry-pick one minority group without acknowledging that you are using race. For that matter, if they were to eliminate race entirely, it would still be a detriment to Whites in many geographies (hello, UC system).

Also, this needs to be put into the context where many universities/colleges are no longer using test scores and, in some cases, not using "weighted" GPAs (where honors courses, AP courses, etc. are given a higher GPA for an A, which is how you can see people with a GPA of, say, 4.4). Removing these measures seems to be opening the door again to the "they just didn't seem like they'd fit here" argument, where "fit" can sometimes be reduced to demographics. Does a smart minority kid from an inner-city public school, "fit" at an elite school? Or will the admissions committees lean on their networks with other elite high schools, and weigh those recommendations against the recommendations from a kid like that, with a letter from an unknown school counselor? Or will they start dealing with anecdotal garbage, like "Remember that minority kid we admitted who was a total flame-out? let's not do that again."

My biggest ongoing concern with this hearing (which I'm 99.99% sure will result in ending Affirmative Action in admissions) is the impact on other, non-admissions programs and incentives. There are many universities that offer tuition breaks or other charitable initiatives for indigenous/native students, for first generation, etc. Most universities also have DEI initiatives or programs that may be declared illegal. I think that would be a shame.
 
Posts: 34998 | Location: West: North and South! | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
…because Asian are a protected class.


Well, race is a protected class. Not just particular races.


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Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by piqué:
I am wondering what my pals at WTF think about this. Do you agree it should come to an end? If so, why? Or why shouldn't it?


End all considerations of race, replace them with a boost for low socio-economic status (SES).

The AA program is a bit farcical at the ivies anyway, my friends that teach at two of them tell me that about half the black students are immigrants, and the vast majority (immigrants or not) are from upper middle class or higher backgrounds. This form of AA seems purely cosmetic, not trying to right the wrongs of the past.


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If you think looting is bad wait until I tell you about civil forfeiture.

 
Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Beatification Candidate
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I like the boost concept. On the radio, one described that bright kids with less family financial support won't have the same experiences during K-12. (no special classes, trips, camps, tutoring) So many of the universities already try to factor that in when considering awards and others. In fact, when the word "quotas" came up, they were quick to point out that the only numerical or percentage quotas that still exist are those for legacy kids... (8-10% at one ivy league)


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Posts: 7293 | Location: chicagoland | Registered: 21 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pinta & the Santa Maria
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quote:
Originally posted by jon-nyc:

End all considerations of race, replace them with a boost for low socio-economic status (SES).


I agree, but I can 100% guarantee you that there will be affluent people who get less-affluent to agree to "host" their kid in their lower-SES zip code. Cynical? Nope, I've seen it happen in other areas that try to take SES into account.
 
Posts: 34998 | Location: West: North and South! | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Minor Deity
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Regarding the argument that the beneficiaries of AA at elite institutions are affluent people of color . . . We also hear that the beneficiaries aren't prepared and wash out.

Which makes me think AA should never have been thought of as a fast track to the elite world. People of color who could hack it at an elite institution needed the preparation that can often be had through access to the same prep white kids have. We cannot expect underprivileged kids of color to be able to leapfrog all the way to the elite level in one generation. That those slots in elite institutions go to the more privileged kids of color doesn't trouble me.

The whole affirmative action debate has been frustrating for me my whole life. I'm really, really good at my job as an attorney. I think if affirmative action didn't exist, I never would have been admitted to the elite law school I attended. My seat would have gone to a wealthy white person, who had been groomed at the best schools. But I didn't wash out of that elite law school. I had mad talent, and I just needed to be in the right environment to show I was just as good or better than my white peers. And if I didn't have that elite school on my resume, no law firm would have considered me, preferring to hire someone who looked like them. Affirmative action was necessary for people like me to break through, and we as a society can't achieve diversity and equity unless that happens.

No one talks about success stories like mine. They should.
 
Posts: 19656 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
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quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:

No one talks about success stories like mine. They should.
I agree, but ideally I also want statistics to back up public policies one way or another, not just anecdotes.

One Condysphinx is an anecdote. Of all the beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, are the Cindysphinxes the 0.01% or the 1% or (hopefully) the majority?

I also like the idea of using social economic status as a measure to diversify, but I recognize also the potential for gaming the system as Nina pointed out. It will come down to the details of how the rules are spelled out. Even then, it’s quite likely that however the rules are written, some people will figure out some way to game the system. It’s just a matter of how hard or how easy it becomes to game the system.

Maybe longer term the real solution is to change the rules every now and then, keep adjusting for how “inequality” has evolved in our evolving society, and render certain gaming methods moot as changes are made to the system every generation.
 
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Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by jon-nyc:
quote:
Originally posted by Nina:
…because Asian are a protected class.


Well, race is a protected class. Not just particular races.


After I posted this I got to thinking about your day job... does your institution think of certain races as protected classes rather than race itself? It wouldn't surprise me, I think in general the culture has assumed that Title VII doesn't apply to white people, and the court implicitly give that idea a nod in Grutter.


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Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Minor Deity
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quote:
Regarding the argument that the beneficiaries of AA at elite institutions are affluent people of color . . . We also hear that the beneficiaries aren't prepared and wash out.


We also hear from whom? Mostly people who haven't bothered to dig into any facts. Graduation rates at elite institutions don't vary much by race or SES. These schools are very well resourced, and those resources largely ensure that student from marginalized communities do quite well.
 
Posts: 11949 | Location: Williamsburg, VA | Registered: 19 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The funny part is that the conservative members of SCOTUS want admissions to be race-neutral.

But not gender-neutral, because female candidates, on average, have better objective qualifications. Nope, can’t have the women with better grades and test scores squeezing out the underqualified white men.
 
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Has Achieved Nirvana
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quote:
Originally posted by QuirtEvans:
The funny part is that the conservative members of SCOTUS want admissions to be race-neutral.

But not gender-neutral, because female candidates, on average, have better objective qualifications. Nope, can’t have the women with better grades and test scores squeezing out the underqualified white men.


What makes you say that? I'm not aware of any cases that have come before them on the subject, or any hints of such a view from things they've said.


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If you think looting is bad wait until I tell you about civil forfeiture.

 
Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
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On that topic, are there any universities that have implemented an "affirmative action" program for men? There are a number of STEM-heavy universities that have done so benefitting women, such as MIT, which has long sought a gender balance that means it's much easier for female applicants to get admitted.

But to date I'm not aware of any universities that have started tipping the scale toward men to redress sex imbalances in matriculation. Though there could easily be some out there that I just haven't heard about.


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If you think looting is bad wait until I tell you about civil forfeiture.

 
Posts: 33635 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Minor Deity
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quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
quote:
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:

No one talks about success stories like mine. They should.
I agree, but ideally I also want statistics to back up public policies one way or another, not just anecdotes.

One Condysphinx is an anecdote. Of all the beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, are the Cindysphinxes the 0.01% or the 1% or (hopefully) the majority?

I also like the idea of using social economic status as a measure to diversify, but I recognize also the potential for gaming the system as Nina pointed out. It will come down to the details of how the rules are spelled out. Even then, it’s quite likely that however the rules are written, some people will figure out some way to game the system. It’s just a matter of how hard or how easy it becomes to game the system.

Maybe longer term the real solution is to change the rules every now and then, keep adjusting for how “inequality” has evolved in our evolving society, and render certain gaming methods moot as changes are made to the system every generation.


Well, people had no trouble using anecdotes to justify negative judgments about race. “We hired a black guy once and it didn’t work out.” “Affirmative action kids aren’t prepared and flunk out.”

But we insist on data about positive traits and experiences.

Cindy — who thought it was the legacy kids who were the ones who underperformed
 
Posts: 19656 | Location: A cluttered house in Metro D.C. | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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