Tag Archives: minority

UCLA’s Latest Display of Outrage

Cross-posted from Can These Bones Live 

UCLA
law professor Richard Sander has been the target of student protests at his
university this week. Sander, a critic of affirmative action, published a
report that argued UCLA’s supposedly “holistic” admissions process was quietly
including race as a prominent factor in deciding who would be admitted to the
university. Based on his analysis of admissions data, Sander argued that while
UCLA’s holistic process, which included factors such as socioeconomic
disadvantage in deciding who would be accepted, was not racially discriminatory
by itself, admissions officers did not strictly follow the process and made
offers to students who not only had relatively weak academic backgrounds, but
even low scores in the holistic ranking. These offers, according to Sander,
went disproportionately to black students. If Sander is correct, then UCLA’s
admissions office has been surreptitiously violating California law, which
prohibits the state’s universities from considering race in admissions or
hiring.

The
report, according to Inside Higher Ed, “infuriated minority student
leaders at UCLA (not to mention administrators).” The students perceived it as
“offensive” and described themselves as being “under attack.” UCLA Associate
Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Youlanda Copeland-Morgan had not
reviewed the statistics in the report and therefore could not judge the
report’s accuracy, but nevertheless described Professor Sander’s analysis as
“hurtful and unequivocal attacks.”

As
I read through the Sander report, I could see no attempts to “attack” or “hurt”
anyone. He makes an argument, based on evidence. One may disagree with his
argument or, after having reviewed his evidence, conclude that the facts do not
support it. But other than making vague claims that somehow the holistic
process includes considerations that cannot be measured statistically,
apparently no one has made any serious efforts to rebut Professor Sander’s
reasoning. In an interview excerpted by Inside Higher Ed, Sander, who had
attended the protest against his report (brave man), observed that “Some
fairly cynical leaders saw an opportunity to create a cause … and they are
milking it to the full. There was no rational discussion. There was no
identification of any mistakes in my report, and no concern about what it would
mean if the analysis were correct.”

I
have no argument with the right to peaceful assembly and it would be perfectly
legal for people to gather to protest the laws of physics, if they should
choose to do so. Still, I find the events at UCLA appalling. A university
should be a place where we encourage careful, dispassionate reasoning. Shouting
slogans and shaking fists in the air do not lend themselves to the cultivation
of rational analysis. While Professor Sander does not appear to be intimidated
by outraged crowds, this kind of emotional display does make it more unpleasant
to express unpopular views and therefore undermines the openness to
intellectual diversity that should be the essence of university life.

Why Are There Still Preferences for Women?

Using federal statistics, Laura Norén has prepared a series of graphics showing gender distribution among recent recipients of undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D./professional degrees. The charts are visually striking, especially since all three sets of charts show movement in an identical direction. According to Norén, by 2020, women are projected to earn 61 percent of all M.A. degrees and 58 percent of all B.A. degrees—figures far above the percentage of women in the total population. There’s no indication that this trend will reverse anytime soon.

The Norén chart reminded me of figures revealed in CUNY’s recent faculty “diversity” report. As I previously noted at Minding the Campus, the demographic breakdown of CUNY’s faculty (and there’s no reason to believe that CUNY’s figures differ from those at most major public institutions) has shown a similar progression.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women increased from 42 to 47 percent of the all CUNY faculty. (The total had risen five percent in the previous decade, as well.) Because of the nature of tenure—only a small percentage of faculty positions come open every year—a five percent overall gain in a decade suggests disproportionate figures in hiring. And, indeed, that was the case—while the CUNY diversity report only broke down gender-hiring patterns for a couple of years in the decade, in 2005, the most recent year for which data was available, 55.5 percent of the new hires were women. If current patterns hold, women will be the majority of CUNY faculty in 2020 and be nearing the 60 percent mark by 2030.

There’s nothing necessarily troubling with these patterns in and of themselves. Undoubtedly the growing numbers of female students—and female faculty members—in part reflect the broader opening of higher education toward women that has occurred since the 1960s. And in a nation where women form 50.8 percent of the population, a fair-minded campus admissions and hiring process could easily yield majority-female enrollment or hires.

Yet these statistics do raise profound, and troubling questions about the nature of campus race/ethnicity/gender “diversity” programs. If women are the substantial majority of students at all levels, and increasingly emerge as the majority of faculty members, what possible rationale could exist for programs, of any type, that grant gender-based preferences to women? Regarding the student population, at least, and the faculty population in the near future, women are no longer an underrepresented minority. To my knowledge, however, no university anywhere in the country has modified either its admissions or its personnel policies to take into account statistics such as those graphed by Norén.

Take, for instance, the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies. The policies include such banalities as a requirement that “university publications relating to employment . . . include articles covering the University’s affirmative action programs, including progress reports and employment data on minorities and women. Pictures will include minorities and women.”

But other requirements are more direct. “Special attention will be given,” according the guidelines,“to extending and strengthening efforts to increase the number of women” in faculty positions. “Recruitment practices will focus on creating a feeling[emphasis added] conducive to attracting minorities and women.” And faculty search committees “will utilize methods which are most likely to result in the inclusion of qualified minorities and women in the applicant pool.” Such requirements might once have been needed. But in an academy in which women are moving toward majority status?

Despite all of these policies, moreover, the university preposterously maintains that “Applicants for employment are considered and placed without regard to . . . sex.” And with federal courts clearly in mind, the guidelines add that goals and timetables for hiring more women at Michigan “are not to be construed or used as a quota system.”

There’s nothing particularly unusual about Michigan’s policies, just as there was nothing unusual about CUNY’s faculty hiring data; such patterns are common throughout higher education. And there’s no reason to believe that any statistics will lead to these policies being repealed.

Norén’s chart unintentionally highlights a point made in several of the Fisher briefs: that it’s entirely possible that even outright quotas might lead to a fairer higher education system than our ever-shifting “goals and timetables,” which can easily be shielded from transparency.

The Affirmative Action Zealots Have Won: Time to Surrender

white flag.jpg

For a half century
I’ve vehemently opposed racial preferences in higher education. Opposition was
partially ideological–I believe in merit–and partly based on sorrowful
firsthand experience with affirmative action students and faculty. Though my
principles remain unchanged I am now ready to concede defeat, throw in the
towel and raise the white flag. Abolishing racial preferences is the academic
equivalent of trying to win a land war in Asia: the enemy is just too strong,
too tenacious and willing to use whatever means necessary. Our side may win a
few battles, e.g., California’s Proposition 209, Hopwood, but at the end of the day, hoards of faceless
bureaucrats and left-wing faculty soldier on. If it takes a village to uncover
special abilities that justify admitting the academically marginal, rest
assured, the village will be recruited, trained and then celebrated as
champions of social justice. Our side just lacks the stomach to outlast zealots
who shamelessly use every ruse imaginable.

Continue reading The Affirmative Action Zealots Have Won: Time to Surrender

What the Madison Confrontation Reveals

student protesters.jpgMost observers have framed the recent disruption by backers of racial and ethnic preferences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a free-speech conflict. Free speech is clearly involved but lying below the surface are three issues that warrant close attention, specifically how Wisconsin once handled “inclusion;” how the protest reflects the transformation of the idea of “opportunity;” and how the university’s policies to help select minorities breeds dependency.

I attended UW-Madison from 1965 to 1969 as a graduate student and back then, at least for in-state residents, the University was highly inclusive. It simply admitted the top three-quarters of all Wisconsin high school graduates (non-residents faced tougher standards) and pretty much left them to survive on their own. I recall seeing only a few blacks on campus, but this undoubtedly reflected the state’s then largely white demography. Surely, if this generous admission standard were applied today, the affirmative action issue would be moot.

Continue reading What the Madison Confrontation Reveals

A Dubious Expense, a Compromised Professor

In an era of large federal deficits, amidst a political culture that makes raising taxes all but impossible, there’s a particularly high need to guard against unnecessary or even inappropriate federal spending. How, then, to explain the National Science Foundation’s awarding just under $50,000 for a conference to “offer guidance” to “underrepresented” minority political science professors on how to receive tenure? And, having made that decision, how further to explain the decision to funnel the money through Paula McClain, a prominent member of Duke’s notorious Group of 88?

According to the NSF’s announcement of the project, “the workshop has significant and substantial broader impacts,” since it would enhance “scientific networks[??] and collaboration,” and would enhance “the diversity of the discipline of political science, making important contributions to scholarship, teaching, learning, and society at large.”

A first question: should a project of this sort receive federal funding? The minority junior faculty members selected by McClain for her gathering will have their tenure applications decided in an academy whose leadership overwhelmingly praised the racial-preferences scheme laid down in Grutter. Perhaps, McClain could claim, tenured political science professors, the people who will hold greatest sway over the tenure applications of the seminar participants, stand outside this academic norm? It appears not. To take a representative sampling (from Julie Park and Nida Denson’s 2009 Journal of Higher Education article), around 85 percent of associate and full professors in social science departments describe “diversity advocacy” of medium or high importance for their institution. If anything, then, status as a minority might provide a minor advantage for people seeking tenure in political science departments.

Continue reading A Dubious Expense, a Compromised Professor

A Feeble Statement from the AAUP

A few years ago, in the midst of the controversy over inappropriate faculty behavior in Columbia’s Middle East Studies department, more than 100 professors, led by former provost Jonathan Cole, signed a document demanding that the Columbia administration defend the faculty from outside criticism—without even determining the merits of that criticism. This approach essentially redefined academic freedom as the freedom from outside criticism of academics who represent the majority view on campus. The draft document on academic freedom just released by the AAUP essentially seeks to codify the redefinition of academic freedom urged by the Columbia faculty. It condemns the activities of, among other people, “bloggers,” while also seeming to fault students for “report[ing] and publiciz[ing] offending classroom statements” by faculty members. In short, the Brandeis philosophy—sunlight is the best disinfectant—must not be allowed to apply to higher education. The AAUP document pays lip service to the idea that faculty members themselves might behave inappropriately: “For example, the denial of promotion or tenure by liberal academics to a conservative academic, or the reverse [presumably at a religious institution?], if based on disagreement with the applicant’s views rather than on a scholarly evaluation of the applicant’s professional competence and performance, constitutes political intrusion regardless of whether persons outside the academic community were involved.” But the organization is most concerned to stop in their tracks those who have deigned to criticize the actions of the current academic majority. This approach is problematic for three reasons. First, it presumes that outside criticism can be perceived as ispo facto bad faith, given the existence of mechanisms for dealing with threats to academic freedom from inside the academy. But even the document’s authors concede that internal threats to academic freedom exist (even as they go out of their way to minimize the problem), and thereby at the very least imply that the mechanisms for dealing with internal threats to academic freedom have broken down. Continue reading A Feeble Statement from the AAUP

Infidels in the Church of Diversity

faculty2009%20%281%29.jpgIt is not really news to most of us that the most avid and outspoken devotees of “diversity” often live and work in the most politically and ideologically un-diverse pockets of America, academic communities, but that must have been news to editors at the New York Times since they found reporter John Tierney’s surprisingly intelligent article (surprising considering its source) on the bias of social psychologists fit to print.
Tierney reported on a dramatic presentation by Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia social psychologist, at a recent convention of social psychologists in San Antonio. After polling his audience of a thousand psychologists in his audience and finding that 80% identified themselves as liberal, fewer than 36 as centrists or libertarians, and only three conservatives, Prof. Haidt pointed out the obvious. “This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” he observed, pointing to polls showing 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservative and 20% liberal.
But that wasn’t all.

Continue reading Infidels in the Church of Diversity

Are Blacks and Hispanics More “Holistic” Than Whites And Asians?

In “Rising Admissions Standards Have Kept Top Colleges Out of Many Minority Students’ Reach,” Peter Schmidt reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education on yet another study of blacks and Hispanics being “channelled” into less selective colleges.

The most selective colleges have raised the bar for admission over decades in which more black and Hispanic students have gotten into the game, leaving such institutions as out of reach for many minority applicants as they had been decades ago, a new study found.
As a result, long-term improvement in the academic preparation of black and Hispanic students and growth in the share entering postsecondary education has not translated into their increased representation at highly selective colleges. Instead, it has left the nation with a higher-education system in which rising numbers of such students are channeled into less-competitive colleges while the most-selective institutions become increasingly associated with students who are relatively wealthy and, for the more part, white or Asian American, the study revealed.

The study was conducted by Michael Bastedo, an associate professor of education at the University of Michigan, and several graduate students there. They analyzed long-term data on students who were high school seniors in 1972, 1982, 1992, or 2004. A paper based on the study, “Access Without Equity: Longitudinal analyses of institutional stratification by race and ethnicity, 1972-2004,” can be found here.

Continue reading Are Blacks and Hispanics More “Holistic” Than Whites And Asians?

Kaplan University and the Short-Changing of Minority Women

powell.jpgThe education of black and Hispanic women is very much at stake in the on-going controversy over for-profit colleges. A November 9th story in the New York Times by Tamar Lewin, “Scrutiny and Suits Take Toll on For-Profit Company,” documented potential abuses found at Kaplan University, one of the schools that disproportionately enrolls black female students. Carlos Urquilla-Diaz a former Kaplan administrator, “recalled a PowerPoint presentation showing African-American women who were raising two children by themselves as the company’s primary target. Such women, Mr. Urquilla-Diaz said, were considered most likely to drop out before completing the program, leaving Kaplan with the aid money and no need to provide more services.”
The recruiting tactics of some for-profit colleges are not the only problem. There has been too much emphasis on increasing four-year graduation rates rather than offering alternatives, particularly occupational programs that lead to certification or two-year degrees. The strong evidence for this is summarized in an American Educator lead article, “Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams.” Earnings among college graduates have become more dispersed, and earnings from many certificate and occupational two-year degrees have risen. As a result, more than 60 percent of those with two-year degrees make more than the lowest 25 percent of four-year college graduates. In this environment, cajoling weakly-performing high school students into focusing their goals on four-year degrees may not be in their best interest.
Many students are well aware of the hurdles they face in seeking four-year degrees. Some enroll in occupational programs but others seek four-year degrees by enrolling in private and public colleges that give them the best chance of reaching their goals. For black students, most identifiable are the Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) but there are many more colleges that serve this role. Black students graduate disproportionately from these schools. In 2006, 19.29 percent of all black female four-year graduates came from the HBCs. In addition, another 19.25 percent of black female graduates came from colleges where black women comprise at least 25 percent of female graduates. As a result, nearly 40 percent of black female graduates came from a small group of colleges that produce only 7.56 percent of all female graduates.

Continue reading Kaplan University and the Short-Changing of Minority Women

Minorities in College—Good News, But…

College-Graduates.jpgHow are Hispanic, Black and American Indian students doing in college? The American Council on Education, which bills itself as “the major coordinating body for all of the nation’s higher education,” has just released its 24th annual report on the subject, titled Minorities in Higher Education. It provides valuable information, but the interpretations of the data do as much to obscure as to illuminate the central issues.
The fifty pages of tables provided in an appendix reveal that these students, designated as “underrepresented minorities,” made enormous progress in our colleges and universities in the 80’s and 90’s, and that these advances have continued in the past decade. For example, total white enrollments in institutions of higher education rose by just 12 percent over the decade 1997-2007. The figure for African Americans was 49 percent, by contrast, and for Hispanics 67 percent. When we distinguish undergraduates from students in graduate or professional schools, the picture looks the same, with minority numbers rising much more rapidly than white rates of gain, though of course from a much smaller base. The same is true when the measure is degrees earned at various levels from Associates to Ph.D.’s.–with some exceptions we will consider later.
Unfortunately, though, few readers are likely to examine the data for themselves, and most will content themselves with reading the Executive Summary, or perhaps just a news report. If so, their understanding will be limited. The authors of the report are reluctant to be bearers of too much good news. They plainly do not want to induce complacency, because they want us to believe that institutions must do much more to provide “greater access” to higher education for these groups. At the same time, though, they are much too optimistic about what colleges and universities can do to overcome the huge racial gap in achievement because they are unwilling to acknowledge that it appears long before students have even begun to contemplate college.

Continue reading Minorities in College—Good News, But…

Big Gaps In Two Big Gap Studies

Last week both the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Reports Highlight Disparities in Graduation Rates Among White and Minority Students”) and Inside Higher Ed (“‘Gaps Are Not Inevitable'”) reported on two large studies by The Education Trust of the graduation rate gap between white and African-American students and betweenwhites and Hispanics. Even aside from the fact that the Asian gap was apparently not studied, there is a Big Gap in both gap studies.
Noting in its press release that “60 percent of whites but only 49 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of African Americans who start college hold bachelor’s degrees six years later,” The Education Trust said their studies “dig beneath national college-graduation averages and examine disaggregated six-year graduation rates at hundreds of the nation’s public and private institutions.” That deep digging produced evidence — hold your hat!—that minorities do better at some institutions than others.

We identify public and private four-year institutions that appear to serve their black and white students equally well—that is, where both groups graduate at similar rates. We also identify public and private institutions that have a lot of work to do to catch up: Their graduation rate gaps are among the largest in the country.

Continue reading Big Gaps In Two Big Gap Studies

The Endless War Against 209

By Ward Connerly
More than thirteen years ago the people of California voted to end discrimination and “preferential treatment” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin, in the public arenas of contracting, education and employment. The margin of the vote on the ballot initiative (Proposition 209) that enshrined the principle of equal treatment in the California Constitution was not a squeaker; it was a decisive 55%-45% margin.
In the years since that vote, most Californians have accepted the verdict of the majority and have adapted to a life of equal treatment without preferences for anyone. That is as it should be in a nation for which the principle of equal treatment is the centerpiece of our civic values system, and for which the “rule of law” is one of our most valued ideals. But, there are some who refuse to take “no” for an answer. Instead, they have used every means at their disposal to bureaucratically circumvent, legally challenge, or flat-out disregard the initiative’s simple command of equality.
This week the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, 6-1, in a response to a lawsuit by white contractors against the city of San Francisco. Along the way, the court noted and dismissed various stratagems employed by the city to avoid the clear meaning of the law.

Continue reading The Endless War Against 209

Campus Marginalization – A Permanent Threat

Every few weeks or so a new marginalized group is discovered on campus, requiring new bursts of emotional inclusion and sometimes a demand for special housing and curriculum change as well. At Cornell the latest people revealed to be suffering discomfort are transfer students. “Study Finds Transfers Feel Marginalized on Campus,” said the headline in the Cornell Sun. As is often the case in marginalization reports, evidence is scant. Cornell, for some reason, once grouped all transfers together in one house, but now this form of transfer togetherness is gone and the constituency is scattered. A survey of transfer students who never lived in the special housing shows that 63.3 percent feel positive or somewhat positive about their first year at Cornell and 27.9 percent feel negative or somewhat negative. This is probably close to the positive-negative experiences of most freshmen on most campuses. Even so, many students at Cornell think there is a serious issue here, with snobbish and privileged non-transfers looking down on transfers as second-class citizens. Surely, they think, it is time for subtle, institutionalized transfer bias to be addressed.
Atheists are also an emerging marginalized group on campus. An article last month in the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Kathleen Goodman and John Mueller, depicted campus atheists as cringing and fearful, reluctant to talk about their non-belief and in great need of help from college administrations. In fact, atheism today is a militant and confident movement, producing a series of best-selling books and creating many argumentative Web sites including Secular Left and Secular Right. But marginalization status on campus requires a more defensive and beleaguered profile. Goodman and Mueller make the conventional recommendations for therapeutic intervention in marginalization cases. They call for administrations to create a welcoming environment, urge colleges to include atheism in student programming, ensure that atheists are able to explore their inner development, and, of course, “create safe spaces that are ‘atheists only’ for students.” This must mean some sort of atheist student center or housing where nonbelievers can relax in safety with their own kind, without having to mix with all those bullying Christians, Muslims and Jews. Cornell set up a transfer house, so why not an atheist house, or even a transferring-atheists house? But Secular Discrimination Report an atheist Web site, sees dark days ahead: “Unfortunately, it is likely that any institutionalized attempts to make atheists feel the least bit welcome on campus will be fought tooth and nail by those with an irrational hatred and fear of those who do not share their beliefs, or any beliefs.” This is a standard view on campus these days– separatist, victim-oriented and sure that religious and mainstream Americans are bigots at heart. It’s time for students and administrators alike to acknowledge that not all groups needs to be coddled and protected in order to thrive. Quivering sensitivity may play well in campus politics, but it surely infantilizes many and ill prepares them for the real world.

Stanford ’89, A Happier Takeover

By John McWhorter
Debra Dickerson said of the Cornell students who took over Willard Straight Hall at Cornell in 1969, “What they actually wanted was beyond the white man’s power to bestow.” Even after they were granted a Black Studies department as they demanded, a core of black students remained infuriated at Cornell as still “fundamentally” racist.
As we mark the fortieth anniversary of that day, I am reminded of one twenty springs later in May, 1989, when 60 Stanford students took over the university president’s building and were arrested. Because 1989 was such a different America racially from that of 1969, such that Stanford had a healthy body of black students of middle-class provenance and above, what went down in the annals as “Takeover 89” was fundamentally a happy event. It was symbolic of a general detour in race ideology in America, and the memory has never left me.
The idea was that in not acceding to certain demands regarding minority issues, the administration had revealed itself to be racist. Interesting, though, what the “demands” were. This time there was already a Black Studies program, plus a student association, and a theme house. So instead, the main demands were four: a Native American Studies department, an Asian-American Studies department (despite there being an Asian-themed dormitory and university-funded Asian students’ association), an assistant dean for Chicano affairs (despite a Chicano student center), and a vague demand for “more” black professors. After all, if black professors are not 13% of the faculty when black people are 13% of the American population, then you know what that’s all about.

Continue reading Stanford ’89, A Happier Takeover

Fuzzy Math in California Admissions

The nine-campus University of California system is reducing the number of freshman admissions because of the financial crisis. But “underrepresented groups”—non-Asian-American minorities—shouldn’t worry at all. Apparently all the cuts will come from white and Asian-American applicants. Down in the ninth paragraph of a 13-paragraph Associated Press story in the San Jose Mercury News, we learn this: “Admission offers to California residents increased 2 percent for African-Americans, 4 percent for Latinos and 21 percent for American Indians. Offers remained relatively unchanged for Asian-Americans and declined 6 percent for whites.”
In raw numbers, compared with fall of 2008, admission offers for this fall are +59 for Latinos, +71 for American Indians, +73 for Pacific Islanders, +290 for African-Americans – 241 for Asian-Americans and -1236 for whites. The category of “other” is – 220, and those who “declined to state” race or ethnicity, believed to be mostly whites who don’t want to play the racial game, is – 861. How can the system get away with these selective racial and ethnic cuts? Doesn’t California’s Proposition 209 make affirmative action in public college admissions illegal? Good questions.

A Survey We Can Do Without

Should colleges analyze their faculties by race, ethnicity and gender to see which group is happier and more content with life on campus? Short answer: no. Identity-group politics is already out of hand in the world of universities. Comparative contentment reports are sure to reinforce the notion of identity uber alles. Besides, grievance is still the coin of the realm on campus, so nothing is more predictable than a conclusion like “Minority professors on the tenure track aren’t as satisfied with their academic workplace as their white counterparts are.” The Chronicle of Higher Education offered that statement while reporting a survey conducted and analyzed by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE).

Some 8,500 pre-tenure faculty members were interviewed at 96 four-year colleges and universities. White and Latino faculty members had similar levels of job satisfaction, but Black, Asian-American and Native American faculty were less satisfied. Kiernan Mathews, director of COACHE, said that colleges that “lump everyone together” (i.e. treat each faculty member as an individual instead of as a member of a potentially unhappy identity group) may not be reaching the topics crucial to different populations. This is the way that the burgeoning diversity bureaucracy makes the case that some groups, if not oppressed or mistreated on campus, definitely need more attention. COACHE is even willing to throw the “r” word into the discussion: the organization’s research director said the racial gaps revealed in the survey suggest that “African American faculty may be experiencing some lingering aspects of racism—real or imagined.” More diversity benefits, please.

Tunnel Of Hate

Halloween is the perfect time for those dark and scary “Tunnel of Oppression” exhibits on many college campuses. The tunnels, billed as “grassroots diversity programs,” are meant to shock and waken students to the amount of hate and oppressiveness around the world and in America today. Photos and skits in the makeshift tunnels portray the menace of the Klan, Nazi concentration camps and violence towards women and gays. The emphasis is on emotion. Some students weep, cry out, or stumble out of the tunnel early, unable to deal with the exhibits.
The tunnels usually create an eerie atmosphere to unsettle students as they move through. This is known as “getting people out of their comfort zone.” Strange whispers and catcalls fill the air. Sometimes the tunnels shrink down to a very narrow passage, inducing an educationally helpful sense of claustrophobia. The odd sounds and brutal images are intended to provoke a visceral reaction, an emotional re-education with echoes of brainwashing.
In the best blogpost done so far about the tunnel, Erin O’Connor wrote at Critical Mass: “The Tunnel of Oppression is a good example of what passes for enlightenment on today’s campuses….(It) takes the concept of shock value to extremes, using overblown melodrama as an agent of social change, and recruiting people to its cause by subjecting them to simulated short-term trauma—which it then conveniently tells them how to understand in the handy group therapy session that forms the final stop on the tour. It’s manipulative, it’s anti-intellectual, and it’s—paradoxically—every bit as cynical and consumerist as the society it claims to deplore.”
The idea of the tunnel is to emotionally transform each student. As Ashley Thorne notes on the National Association of Scholars website, at the University of Arizona participants emerge from their tunnel by signing pledges to stop hate on campus and pasting those pledges in the “Hall of Happiness.” The university created a two-credit course sponsored by the education department, labeled “Event Planning and Leadership/ the Tunnel of Oppression.” These days all dubious ideas end up on the curriculum.

Continue reading Tunnel Of Hate

The ABA’s Diversity Agenda

The ABA is very big on diversity. To satisfy its standards, nearly all law schools must seriously relax their admissions standards for minority students. But how many of so-called beneficiaries of affirmative action are graduating and passing the bar? And how many are winding up with nothing to show for their trouble but students loans? The evidence is not encouraging.

For years, the ABA has used its clout to demand that law schools toe the affirmative action line. In the 1990s, fully 31% of law schools admitted to political scientists Susan Welch and John Gruhl that they “felt pressure” “to take race into account in making admissions decisions” from “accreditation agencies.”

Law schools must take pressure from the ABA seriously. As the U.S. Department of Education’s designated law school accreditation agency, the ABA, through its Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, has the power to decide whether a law school will be eligible for federal funding. Unless the ABA approves, for example, a law school’s students will be ineligible for student loans. And that is just the beginning. Most states do not allow the graduates of non-ABA-accredited law schools even to sit for the bar examination. A law school that is not in the good graces of the ABA is thus not a law school at all.

Continue reading The ABA’s Diversity Agenda

The Model Minority Myth?

A recently released report that claims to poke holes in the idea of Asian-American students as the “model minority” – excelling academically and outperforming white students in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences – looks more like the latest phase of a long-running effort by Asian-American activists to persuade college administrators to establish admissions quotas and other race-based preferences for at least some students of Asian descent.

The report, titled “Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” and jointly issued by New York University, the College Board, and a commission of self-described Asian-American educators and community leaders, points out that Asian-Americans are not a homogeneous group of super-achievers, but an assortment of dozens of varying cultures and ethnicities with roots in the continent of Asia and its surrounding islands: Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Malaysians, just to name a few. Confusing matters further is that “Asian-Americans” are often lumped together for statistical purposes with “Pacific Islanders,” which adds Samoans, Fijians, and others to the mix.

Not surprisingly, the histories and cultural values of all those ethnic groups vary enormously. China, Japan, Korea, and India have had literate and sophisticated civilizations for centuries, even millennia, and education has traditionally occupied a high place in the value systems of those who roots are in those civilizations – which clearly has something to do with why Indian-American children win spelling bees and Chinese-American high school students get double 800s on their SATs. It clearly makes little sense to group those ethnicities with, say, Samoans, Guamanians, and the Hmong of Vietnam, who have no tradition of literacy before the twentieth century and whose U.S.-dwelling teen-age offspring may well be the first in their families even to consider going to college. Those latter young people tend to be found in two-year community colleges, not the prestigious four-year universities where Asians from the former group are the ones represented in disproportionate numbers (at Stanford, for example, at least a fourth of the undergraduate student body is Asian in ethnicity, even though the university has no affirmative action program in place for Asians).

All well and good, so far. But the report, written by NYU education professor Robert Teranishi and a group called the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, does some ethnicity-lumping of its own, apparently hoping to demonstrate that Asian-Americans ought to be viewed as another victim group in need of preferences and cultural diversity programs rather than as the bootstrap-propelled high achievers of popular stereotype. The report points out, for example, that 64 percent of foreign-born Chinese-American children in Brooklyn speak English “less than very well,” and that 33 percent of Hmong-Americans in St. Paul, Minn., live below the poverty level. A section of the report titled “A Call for Action” urges that schools “hire more Asian American and Pacific Islander faculty, staff, consultants, and researchers to identify and guide work in education at every level, on behalf of all groups, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” and “modify our desired learning outcomes and provide curricula that reflect Asian American and Pacific Islander history, art, literature, and culture.” In other words, more affirmative action and multiculturalism – as well as more new jobs for diversity bureaucrats.

Furthermore, as a story on the report in the Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out, the NYU/College Board/Commission study does not exactly break new ground. The Chronicle story linked to a Chronicle story from 1993 reporting on lobbying efforts by Asian-American advocacy groups to institute affirmative-action programs for Asians by pointing out ethnic and cultural diversity among their various constituent groups.

The Chronicle story also pointed out that although the report urged universities to base their policies (such as expanding affirmative action) on “fact, not fiction,” it ignored one salient fact reported in a January 2008 Chronicle story: that at several public universities that recently got rid of affirmative action policies under court order or legislative mandate, Asian-American students proved to be the major beneficiaries. Their enrollments, rather than declining, actually increased.

University Of The Absurd

Recently I sat down with a young woman who shared with me the experience of her first year at Thurgood Marshall College, one of the six colleges of the University of California at San Diego. She explained to me that regardless of her major field of study and in order to graduate she was required to take certain “general education” courses, the centerpiece of which is a three-quarter, 16-unit creation called “Dimensions of Culture.” What she had to tell me is a warning to both parents and students.

The Dimensions of Culture program (DOC) is an introductory three-quarter social science sequence that is required of all first year students at Thurgood Marshall College, UCSD. Successful completion of the DOC sequence satisfies the University of California writing requirement. The course is a study in the social construction of individual identity and it surveys a range of social differences and stratifications that shape the nature of human attachment to self, work, community, and a sense of nation. Central to the course objective is the question of how scholars move from knowledge to action. UCSD Course Description

Edgar B. Anderson: So let’s talk about Dimensions of Culture. That’s vague. What’s that mean?

Student: I don’t know. Each quarter, the first quarter is called Diversity, the second quarter is called Justice, and the third quarter is called Imagination. So Diversity is we studied everything about minorities – like women, homosexuals, and then Asians, blacks, Latinos.

Q. So what’s left out – white males?

A. Yeah, pretty much if you’re a white male you’re bad, that’s kind of the joke among all the students.

Q. Women are not even a minority, they’re a majority.

A. But it’s more about the workforce.

Q. Power.

A. Yeah, that’s kind of how they presented it. We didn’t really focus on women that much. It was mainly how Asians have been oppressed in history and how Latinos continue to be oppressed and how blacks continue to be oppressed, all of that.

Continue reading University Of The Absurd

How Mismatches Devastate Minority Students

By Gail Heriot
(Ms. Heriot is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. This piece is adapted from Ms. Heriot’s Commissioner Statement for the Civil Rights Report on Affirmative Action at American Law Schools released last fall.)

I have no doubt that those who originally conceived of race-based admissions policies – nearly forty years ago – were acting in good faith. By lowering admissions standards for African-American and Hispanic students at selective law schools, they hoped to increase the number of minority students on campus and ultimately to promote minority integration into both the legal profession and mainstream society. Similarly, however, I have no doubt of the good faith of those who opposed the policies. Indeed, their warnings that academic double standards cannot solve the nation’s problems and may well exacerbate them seem especially prescient in light of recent research.
The real conflict over race-based admissions policies has not been about good or bad faith or about whether we should aspire to be a society in which members of racial minorities are fully integrated into the mainstream. There is no question we should. The conflict is about whether racial discrimination – something that nearly all Americans abhor – is an appropriate tool to achieve that end. Put starkly: Should the principle of non-discrimination be temporarily sacrificed in the hope that such a sacrifice will, in the long run, help us become the society of equal opportunity that we all aspire to?

Justice Stanley Mosk warned of the risks associated with such temporary compromises with principle over thirty years ago, when, writing for the California Supreme Court in Bakke v. UC Regents (1976), he held racially discriminatory admissions policies to be unconstitutional:

To uphold the University would call for the sacrifice of principle for the sake of dubious expediency and would represent a retreat in the struggle to assure that each man and woman shall be judged on the basis of individual merit alone, a struggle which has only lately achieved success in removing legal barriers to racial equality.

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February: Black Panther Month

Black History Month college speakers axiomatically slant left. This February, Al Sharpton appeared at Adelphi University, Nikki Giovanni at Southern University, and Mary Frances Berry at Reed College, to name just a few. The right-most speaker this year was likely an elected Democrat, Harold Ford Jr., who also spoke at Reed. It’s little change in a decades-long trend; more troublesome is the continued use of the month’s events to showcase flatteringly revisionist views of the Black Panther party, and unrepentant Black Panthers themselves.

In the last month, Angela Davis (already much in demand for MLK day speeches) spoke at The College of New Jersey, Bobby Seale, Panthers co-founder, spoke at the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee and DePauw University, Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panthers, spoke at Smith and at Manatee Community College (yes, it’s real), and David Hilliard, former Panthers Chief of Staff, spoke at California Polythechnic and Arizona State University. Their lectures addressed topics from prison reform to the current state of civil rights and racism. All four are billed as civil rights advocates. Let’s consider what that means.

In 1970 Angela Davis was charged as an accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping, and homicide. She undisputably owned the shotgun used to murder the victim. She was acquitted, largely on the basis of testimony from fellow Panthers. The veracity of this testimony has been widely questioned.

In 1969, Bobby Seale was charged with ordering the torture and murder of an informant within the Black Panther party. His trial ended in a hung jury. Several other Panthers were convicted of the murder.
In 1974 Elaine Brown was accused of ordering the murder of Betty Van Patten, a Black Panther accountant. In leveling this charge, David Horowitz offer numerous colorful details about this “civil rights pioneer”:

I will never forget standing next to Elaine, as I did months later in growing horror, as she threatened KQED-TV host Bill Schechner over the telephone. “I will kill you motherfucker,” she promised him in her machete voice, if he went through with plans to interview the former Panther Chairman, Bobby Seale

In 1971, David Hilliard was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to kill in a 1968 gunfight with police officers, and jailed for three years. In his Cal Poly speech, he (of course!) criticized the popular perception of the Panthers as a violent organization. The Sun (San Bernardino) reported:

“Why we survived had little to do with the guns,” he continued. “It had to do with the community protecting us from total annihilation. Most whites don’t know the Black Panther Party agenda or ideology. They only saw the guns, the militancy. We survived and remained relevant because we always served the people, body and soul. Most of us who made it out alive owe a debt of gratitude to the community.”

All four dispute the popular (violent) presentation of the Black Panther party, while remaining largely unapologetic about their own pasts.

Continue reading February: Black Panther Month

How To Set Up A Politicized Ethnic Studies Department

1) Hold and publicize discussions on how your ethnic group is under-represented, ignored and invisible on campus. (“Students, faculty, and Native American scholars discussed introducing an indigenous studies program as part of Friday’s Faculty House workshop on the under-representation of Native Americans in Columbia’s curriculum and faculty. …This is our homeland and being invisible is part of the problem…,” said Dawn Martin-Hill, a professor at McMaster University in Ontario – The Columbia Spectator, Feb. 25).

2) If, in fact, your ethnic group isn’t invisible and is already the subject of a variety of courses on campus, belittle those courses as woefully insufficient. (“Although the University offers some courses relating to Native Americans, some feel that the courses are too scattered across disciplines and schools to comprise a cohesive program” – The Spectator).

3) Make sure everyone knows you want an activist political group, not just an academic program (“It should be study to empower native people” said keynote speaker Michael Yellow Bird, a professor at the University of Kansas). On some campuses, working for the cause is required. At Carleton College, students who take a course on Native American religious freedom are expected to undertake “service projects” that get them involved in “matters of particular concern to contemporary native communities.”

4) Make clear that your program will not include any white professors who may be specialists in Indian cultures. (“Native American studies need to be coupled with Native scholars,” said JoAnn Kintz ’08, president of the Columbia Native American Council.”)

5) Pick a keynote speaker radical enough to show that you mean business and that your activist ethnic department will be a muscular one (Professor Yellow Bird thinks the disgraced fabulist Ward Churchill was railroaded and believes that “our traditional indigenous forms of morality” may be a corrective to “the U.S. addiction to greed, war, power and colonization.”)

6) Sit back and wait an hour or so until the campus diversity czar falls in line with your program (“We started to bring scholars to see what questions we should be asking and about creating a center,” said Geraldine Downey, vice-provost for diversity initiatives at Columbia. “The university is committed.”)

The Ethics of Diversity

Randy Cohen, the New York Times “Ethicist”, offered a very slippery response to a reader last week, on the question of financial incentives for the hiring of minority professors. You’d best read the whole exchange first. My comments are beneath:

I teach at a state university that offers financial incentives to hire minority candidates. A department receives $1,000 for completing a tenure-track hire but $5,000 if it hires a minority candidate. I’m concerned that colleagues will make recommendations based on the financial reward rather than pursue the “best” candidate. Should the institution offer these bounties? – DR. MARK E. CHASE, SLIPPERY ROCK, PA.

There’s nothing discreditable or even unusual about using financial incentives to prompt estimable conduct. Governments use tax codes to promote desired activities. Businesses offer bonuses to encourage certain kinds of job performance. (Full disclosure: I have a “financial incentive” to write this column. It’s called a “paycheck.”) Be wary of skewing your argument with a loaded word like “bounties.”

It is admirable of your school to acknowledge that some minorities are underrepresented on campus, that this is unjust in itself and that it subverts the school’s mission: it is important for students to encounter professors (and fellow students) of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. In pursuit of this goal, the school may try various things. There might be better ways to genuinely expand faculty diversity, but until such methods are on the table, and unless the danger you worry about actually emerges, financial incentives are worth a try.

Be comforted that hiring a new faculty member involves so many layers of scrutiny, so many opportunities for colleagues to weigh in, that the hazard you invoke is minimal. Remember: this tactic is not meant to lower hiring standards but to broaden the pool of people considered for the job.

For so long there has been so much social (if not legal) pressure arrayed against hiring such folks – in effect, incentives to hire white men – that it seems hypocritical to object only when incentives benefit minority candidates.

First, yes, the incentive that Dr. Chase writes concerning is clearly a small one. It’s unlikely that a department would contort its hiring decision much on the basis of a $4,000 “bounty” – after all, they’d have to work with the hire. Cohen’s right to point out that the “hazard is minimal” – yet his answer concerning that minimal danger is far from forthright. Consider this, the slipperiest sentence from above:

Continue reading The Ethics of Diversity

Racial Quotas Bar Minorites In Brooklyn?

After decades of watching the sons and daughters of black doctors and lawyers get preferencial tretment in college admissions over those of white coal miners and mill workers, and corporate titans kowtow to the Al Sharptons of the world, those appalled by America’s ever-expanding regime of racial quotas will be forgiven for thinking things could not get more bizarre on the quotas front. But now comes a remarkable new twist. It seems that in Mark Twain School, IS 239, a magnet middle school for gifted students in Brooklyn’s Coney Island section, it is minority kids who are getting penalized for the color of their skin.

This first came to light back in June, when a story in The New York Post – to date, The Times has not deigned to cover this remarkably revealing case – reported that the parents of a very bright 11-year old of Indian descent named Nikita Rau were up in arms because their had been denied admission to the school, though her test scores would have been more than adequate had she been Caucasian. It turned out the policy of discrimination on behalf of whites had been in place since 1974, when it was put in place to comply with a federal court desegregation order. The aim of this bit of social engineering was to maintain a 6-4 white-to-minority ratio at the school, but in practice, as always, the effect was to punish the innocent. “I feel bad because I would have gotten in if I was white,” the paper quoted the girl. Meanwhile, her outraged parents, saying it could adversely affect her chances in life – including her shot at getting into Harvard or Princeton – announced they were hiring a lawyer to challenge the decision.

Soon thereafter, it appeared a happy ending was in sight and legal action would not be necessary, when the Supreme Court ruled against such racial quotas in a case involving schools in Seattle and Louisville. Yet in the intervening months, schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who earlier described the quotas as an “anachronism,” has left them in place, and the parents are now proceeding with their suit against both Klein and New York’s Department of Education, represented by Terrence Pell of the Center for Individual Rights.

Among the ironies here is that in many jurisdictions, young Nikita Rau, in the bizarre, Orwellian logic of diversity bureaucrats, would not even be officially find herself in the same category as blacks and Hispanics; and, indeed, might actually be lumped in with whites. In California, for instance, prior to the passage of a state initiative banning such discrimination, Asians were classified as an “overrepresented minority,” and thus deemed inelligible for preferential treatment.

If Americans are baffled and outraged by the current system, its hardly surprising that those drawn to this country as a beacon of freedom and equality are even more so. “We should not face this in America,” as the girl’s father, Dr. Anjan Rau, who emigrated from India in 1982, proclaimed to The Post. “I think it’s morally wrong!”