Tag Archives: Roger Clegg

An Unusually Stupid Court Ruling

Yesterday the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that Michigan’s Proposal 2 violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. 

Proposal 2 was a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to provide that state and local government agencies (including public universities) in Michigan “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”  The Equal Protection Clause provides that “No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The mind boggles.  Proposal 2 not only does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, and is not only quite consistent with it, but is indeed nothing more than an elaboration on it.

But here is the court of appeals’ reasoning:

A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy: she could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state’s constitution. The same cannot be said for a black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution–a lengthy, expensive, and arduous process–to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2. The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change.

To which the answer is:  The same might be said of a member of the Ku Klux Klan who wanted the University of Michigan to adopt a whites-only policy of racial segregation.  Would this court have ruled that the Klansman’s equal-protection rights are violated by Proposal 2?

That seems unlikely.  The decision was driven by its politically correct result, which is why the decision was 8-7 along partisan lines:  Every vote in the majority was by a Democrat-appointed judge (except, technically, for one who was originally nominated by President Clinton late in his term and then, in a misguided gesture of conciliation, renominated by President Bush at the beginning of his), and every dissenter was appointed by a Republican president.  Elections do indeed have consequences.

One’s first reaction is anger and frustration. 

Consider:  The saga may be said to begin in 1978, when a majority of the Supreme Court in the Bakke case decided that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not prohibit racial discrimination in university admissions, even though it reads, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin … be subjected to discrimination [by federally funded universities]….”  The fact that the national legislature had, by the clear terms of a statute it had passed, banned racial preferences in university admissions was just ignored.

So those opposing such discrimination would have to meet the standard the Court uses in constitutional cases, which allows the discrimination if it is “narrowly tailored” to a “compelling” interest.  As the discrimination became more and more widespread and entrenched, hard-fought lawsuits were in fact brought in Texas and then Michigan and taken through the courts of appeals, and then finally in 2003 the Supreme Court agreed to revisit the issue.  Alas, the Court struck down some of the discrimination but also held by a 5-4 margin that the “educational benefits” from “diversity” provided such a compelling interest, at least for another 25 years (!). 

So it was back to the political process in Michigan, where thousands of petition signatures were gathered and then Proposal 2 was passed with 58 percent of the vote after a bruising campaign.  And now we are told that this was a waste of time because using the political process this way is unconstitutional.  Again, it’s frustrating.

All this, in the courts and at the ballot, and all because of this seemingly unexceptionable desire:  That universities not discriminate in admission on the basis of skin color or what country someone’s ancestors came from.

But, on reflection, we can make lemonade from this lemon.

The state attorney general has already announced that he plans to take the case to the Supreme Court – thank goodness – which will almost certainly grant review, because the decision below is not only important and outrageous, but also creates a split in the circuits since the Ninth Circuit rejected a similar lawsuit.  When the Court does so, there ought to be at least five votes to overturn the Sixth Circuit’s decision – and clarify or overturn a confusing and mischievous couple of earlier Supreme Court decisions that the Sixth Circuit used to justify its result.  So the case will provide the Court with an opportunity to replace bad precedent containing dubious language with good precedent and good language for future cases.

And wait, there’s more:  It has already been my hope that the recent election results, and in particular the demographic spin being put on them, should push the conservative justices to ban racial preferences, period, in the recently argued Fisher v. University of Texas.  It’s clear that the composition of the Court is not going to get any better and may get worse, and it’s clear that the political branches are not going to address this problem – and, indeed, the country is getting to the point where political power is wielded in a way to create a racial spoils system in university admissions, contracting, you name it.   Therefore, our justices will reason, we have to take this off the table now.

The fact that the Court knows that the Sixth Circuit case is now in the wings may make this course of action even more attractive in Fisher.  Yesterday’s decision underscores the need for a clear statement from the Court in this area, and it is, after all, even easier to explain why banning racial preferences is not unconstitutional when there is a Supreme Court decision that holds that using racial preferences is unconstitutional.

You have to hand it to our opponents (in this case the lawsuit was brought by an organization whose name promises to defend affirmative action By Any Means Necessary, or “BAMN”):  They never give up.  So we can’t either.  They have the advantage of being unprincipled, but we have the advantage of being right – of wanting to end racial and ethnic discrimination and preference, which is the only tenable legal regime for our increasingly multiethnic and multiracial nation.

_________________________________________________________________________

Roger Clegg is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which joined amicus briefs filed by Pacific Legal Foundation in the Sixth Circuit case and in Fisher.

What Columbia Is Doing Is Illegal

Just
a few lawyerly thoughts to add to KC Johnson’s excellent post yesterday on Columbia University setting aside
$30 million to hire female and minority faculty.

It was clear enough all along that Columbia’s
hiring would be racially discriminatory, if not racially exclusive; and, as
Professor Johnson points out, even the pretext that sometimes a (politically
correct) white male might be eligible for hiring has apparently now been
abandoned. And of course this is an unfair, divisive, and corrupt policy.  But it should also be pointed out that it is
ILLEGAL to weigh race,  ethnicity, and
sex in hiring.

You
shouldn’t have to be a math whiz to understand that Title VI does not equal
Title VII.  President Bollinger of course
knows that, in its 2003 Grutter v.
Bollinger
(“That’s me!”) decision, the Supreme Court said that
universities could discriminate – to a limited degree – on the basis of race
and ethnicity in student admissions under, among other federal laws, Title
VI.  And so it is commonly assumed that
it must also be okay for universities to weigh race and ethnicity (and sex) in
the same “diversity”-driven way when they hire faculty.

Wrong. The Grutter
decision said nothing about Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which
covers employment and which has different language and jurisprudence than Title
VI.  The federal courts have never
recognized a “diversity” exception to Title VII, and are unlikely to. In fact,
when that issue was about to be decided by the Supreme Court in the late 1990s,
the civil-rights establishment hastily raised enough money to settle the case. More
on the problems with faculty hiring discrimination here.

And
don’t even think about making the “role model” argument in lieu of
the “diversity” argument.  When
you read about a university’s efforts to diversify its faculty, a school
official will frequently assert that these efforts are important because
minority or female students  need “role
models” (relatedly, it is often suggested that the faculty  should reflect the student body or even the
community’s general 
population).  This is a dubious argument as a policy
matter, but what is amazing is that the argument continues to be made even
though the
Supreme Court rejected it, as
legal matter, over
twenty-five years
ago
. 

N.B.  The Supreme Court has, alas, also
(mis)interpreted Title VII to be a less-than-categorical ban on discrimination,
but the politically correct exceptions it has carved out (for “manifest
imbalances” in 
“traditionally
segregated job categories”) do not apply, and are not cited by Columbia,
here.

No Research, Please, Unless It Helps Our Cause

A news story here has garnered some attention; it’s about how “Black students at Duke University are angry over a university research paper that found African-American undergraduates at the school are disproportionally more likely to switch from tough majors to easier ones.” There’s not much in it that denies the truth of the paper’s conclusion, but what’s interesting is that the story suggests that many think that researchers should keep such unpleasant facts to themselves:

“The implications and intentions of this research at the hands of our very own prestigious faculty, seemingly without a genuine concern for proactively furthering the well-being of the black community is hurtful and alienating,” wrote the officers of Duke’s Black Student Alliance in an email sent to the state NAACP.

Continue reading No Research, Please, Unless It Helps Our Cause

Protest Versus Disruption at the University of Wisconsin

CEO_Logo.pngIt has been over a week since the University of Wisconsin at Madison was torn by the debate over affirmative action on September 13. The conflict was precipitated by the presentation of a study conducted by the Center for Equal Opportunity, which alleges reverse discrimination in UW admissions policies.

A lot has been written about what happened at the press conference announcing the event and the debate between CEO’s Roger Clegg and UW law professor Larry Church later that evening. Most publicly presented views have been supportive of the students who protested at these events, and have defended the UW’s admissions policies. But criticisms of how this conflict has been handled have percolated beneath the surface.

Continue reading Protest Versus Disruption at the University of Wisconsin

Notes on the Diversity Uprising in Wisconsin

I thank KC Johnson for his thoughtful post below.  Here is a link to the studies we released on the severe and unjustified admission preferences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison,and to the press release that summarized them and announced the press conference:  http://www.ceousa.org/content/view/929/119/.

Since I was there, I thought I would also add a few observations. The mob’s protest took place in stages:  The protestors began by chanting outside the hotel; then they broke into the lobby, where they chanted some more; then they insisted on opening the door to the room where the press conference was being held, which of course made their chanting more audible; and finally they physically broke into the room.

Continue reading Notes on the Diversity Uprising in Wisconsin

From the Sixth Circuit: Good News, Bad News

There’s good news out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: On Friday, the full court agreed to rehear a now infamous decision in which a three-judge panel had earlier struck down the state of Michigan’s Proposal 2.  Proposal 2, in turn, is a ban on government discrimination and preference on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex, passed by Michigan voters in 2006 in large measure because the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 had upheld the state universities’ use of racial preferences in admissions.  The Sixth Circuit panel reasoned that this ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.  That’s right: The people of Michigan, according to this court, violated the Equal Protection Clause when they demanded that their state treat all citizens equally–without regard to race, ethnicity, or sex–in government contracting, employment, and education, including university admissions.  Unbelievable.

Continue reading From the Sixth Circuit: Good News, Bad News

Preferences for Homosexuals?

LGBT.jpgElmhurst College, in what is apparently a first, will ask this question on its admissions application:  “Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”  Answering the question will be optional; applicants may chose “yes” or “no” or “prefer not to answer.” 

Those answering yes to the LGBT question will be eligible for a diversity-driven “enrichment scholarship” since they will be considered members of an “underrepresented group.”  On the other hand, according to Insider Higher Ed, the school “admits around 65 percent of applicants, and does not anticipate using sexual orientation as a factor in admissions decisions.”

You can read about all this on the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed websites, and the college itself subsequently put out a  statement on the matter (in which it notes that “the College did not seeks publicity for this step”).

There do not appear to be any federal legal problems with the college’s action, and if there are it will be, ironically, because of liberal rather than conservative legal theories. That is, the left has been aggressive in pushing legal arguments that federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation; to the extent that courts and bureaucrats accept those dubious arguments, then it opens the door to claims that preferences on the basis of sexual orientation are illegal, too.

Law aside, does Elmhurst’s action make sense as a policy matter?

Continue reading Preferences for Homosexuals?

Non-Garbage In, Garbage Out

The New York Times had a fairly long online colloquy over the weekend on a very short study titled “Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing.” Prepared by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Samuel R. Sommers of Tuft University’s Department of Psychology, the study appeared in Perspectives on Psychological Science. It is straightforward enough:  A large national sample of black Americans and white Americans was asked to use a 10-point scale to indicate the extent they felt that blacks and whites were each “the target of discrimination in each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s.&rdquo The Times colloquy on the study included folks from left (Patricia J. Williams, Paul Butler, and Victoria C. Plaut), right (David E. Bernstein and Abigail Thernstrom), and center (Jeffrey Rosen), as well as the study’s authors.

Dr. Thernstrom and Professor Bernstein made good contributions to the colloquy, putting the study in a historical and legal perspective, respectively. My own thoughts can be summarized as: What’s good (or at least plausible) in the study isn’t new, and what’s new isn’t good.

The results are well-summarized in the study’s graph (figure 1).  Basically, it shows (a) that blacks and whites agree that discrimination against blacks has gone dramatically down over the last half century, and that discrimination against whites has gone up; but (b) that blacks believe there is more antiblack discrimination still than whites do; and, finally, (c) that whites believe that there is now actually more antiwhite discrimination than antiblack discrimination, while blacks think that the amount of antiwhite discrimination is still negligible. None of this is particularly new or surprising. Who can deny that there is less discrimination against blacks now than in 1950; or that, with the rise of affirmative action, there is not at least some discrimination against whites now which was nonexistent a half century ago? And who can be surprised that blacks are more sensitive to remaining discrimination against them, and more dismissive than whites of the extent of politically correct discrimination against whites now?

Continue reading Non-Garbage In, Garbage Out

Why the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative Was Needed

This week Arizonans overwhelmingly enacted the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which bans state and local discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex in contracting, employment, and education – including racial preferences in university admissions. Opponents of such initiatives frequently claim that they are a solution in search of a problem, that the presence of preferential treatment is greatly exaggerated, that quotas are already illegal, and so forth.
Not so.
Admissions data obtained a couple of years ago from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University law schools show that race and ethnicity play a huge role in determining who gets in.
Studies based on that data and released by the Center for Equal Opportunity document evidence of severe discrimination based on race and ethnicity in admissions there. At both schools, African Americans and, to a lesser extent, Latinos are admitted with significantly lower undergraduate grade-point averages and LSAT scores than whites and, again to a lesser extent, Asians.

Continue reading Why the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative Was Needed

Reshape Universities Because of “Stereotype Threat”?

An Inside Higher Ed article yesterday by English professor Satya P. Mohanty of Cornell on “Diversity’s Next Challenges” constructs an elaborate house of cards but then inadvertently knocks the whole thing down. The piece features, in particular, an argument suggesting that “stereotype threat”—the claim that fear of being judged by a stereotype can cause minorities to do much less well on a test than they should—requires that universities and all of society must be restructured before minorities can be expected to succeed.
Stereotype-threat research regarding test performance has been widely used and abused. But, whatever its merits, Professor Mohanty has extrapolated its claimed findings to a broader one, that the “culture of our campuses,” indeed the entire “culture of learning,” needs to be restructured with the aim of fostering racial trust. Merely admitting a diverse student body is not enough: We must “think about what our campuses feel like to those who come to learn.” Campuses must be perceived as “trustworthy” by these students. And this means that campus culture must be “more open, democratic, and genuinely attentive to the experience of different social groups.” Again, there must be a focus not only on admitting a diverse student body, but on “the campus as a learning environment for different kinds of learners.”
Professor Mohanty then plugs the forthcoming book he has co-edited , The Future of Diversity (some of the arguments that follow here are fleshed out by the book’s various authors, and the op-ed apparently endorses them). That future is important not only for the success of the university per se, but because “university campuses have a special role to play in building the future of our multicultural and diverse society.”

Continue reading Reshape Universities Because of “Stereotype Threat”?

Diversity, Science Faculties, and Circular Reasoning

According to a short news item in Inside Higher Ed today, “The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of American Universities have issued a new handbook with detailed legal resources to help colleges recruit and retain faculty members and students in science fields. The handbook notes legal challenges to some forms of affirmative action, but suggests that many practices that promote diversity are on solid legal ground.”
I criticized bean-counting for science faculties in a recent essay for “Minding the Campus”, pointing out both the legal objections and the lack of a policy justification for race-conscious hiring. I’m heartened that the handbook, which will be released later this week, apparently takes the legal issues seriously and may even warn schools away from the worst abuses. But what about the policy justification for striving toward “diversity” in the first place? Well, here’s what the press release for the handbook says, with my comments in brackets:

Continue reading Diversity, Science Faculties, and Circular Reasoning

Obama Wants More Preferences

The Obama administration has weighed in on behalf of the University of Texas’s use of racial and ethnic preferences in its undergraduate admissions, filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, as reported here. This is unfortunate if not surprising, but the scope of the brief is noteworthy in three respects.
First, it goes out of its way to endorse the use of preferences to achieve diversity not just in this particular case at this particular school, but in all “educational institutions”—K-12, undergraduate, and graduate. The Supreme Court has never found there to be a compelling interest in the former instance—nor, for example, in post-doctorates for chemistry—and it is aggressive and wrong to argue that, because the Court found there to be compelling educational benefits in diversity at the University of Michigan law school, therefore any educational institution can make that claim.
Second, the University of Texas is arguing not just for campus-wide diversity but for classroom-by-classroom diversity. To achieve this, needless to say, the use of racial and ethnic preferences will be increased significantly.
Third, the University of Texas had—through its use of the state’s Ten Percent Plan—already achieved significant diversity, prior to re-instituting racial and ethnic preferences. That was the purpose of the Plan (which allows any student graduating in the top ten percent of his or her high-school class to go to the flagship campus), and indeed the school’s president had bragged about its success in that regard. Now, the Supreme Court had ruled in the University of Michigan cases that one element of constitutional “narrow tailoring” is to give consideration to means other than overt preferences to achieving diversity—and here those means had not only been considered, but had been adopted and with success. How then can the use of preferences here be “narrowly tailored”?
One suspects that the Obama administration’s Justice Department will never meet a racial preference it doesn’t like. This case, meanwhile, is likely headed to the Supreme Court, whatever the Fifth Circuit does.
Postscript re other amici: The Chronicle of Education reports that the administration has company: “Fourteen national higher-education associations have filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the use of race-conscious admission policies by the University of Texas at Austin,” including “the American Council on Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.” Our Center for Equal Opportunity, by the way, has—along with the National Association of Scholars and the American Civil Rights Institute—joined an amicus brief filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation opposing the admissions discrimination.

Shall We Rank Law Schools for Diversity?

Two law-school professors, Vikram David Amar and Kevin R. Johnson, recently published a piece in FindLaw.com on “Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools.” Early on, the piece notes a research finding that, by including in its law-school index the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of the students admitted and enrolled, the USNWR ranking “creates disincentives for schools to admit and enroll applicants from underrepresented groups that have not – as groups – fared particularly well in grades or on standardized tests.”

The good news is that Amar and Johnson don’t suggest what many on the Left would immediately demand, namely that the index and, for that matter, law schools themselves simply ignore test scores and grades if they have a politically incorrect disparate impact. The bad news is that the authors instead embrace the “welcome development” that Bob Morse, USNWR‘s “point person for law school ratings,” has “recently expressed openness to thinking about incorporating a ‘diversity index’ into the rating methodology.”

Amar and Johnson then agree with Mr. Morse that “measuring diversity is a very complicated issue,” since after all it requires deciding which racial groups “should be included in the definition of diversity, and determining the extent to which the diversity index should go beyond race and ethnicity – to include socio-economic class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, age, and perhaps religion and other characteristics ….” True enough (and probably a good reason to rethink the wisdom of the whole undertaking).

Continue reading Shall We Rank Law Schools for Diversity?

Self-Parody At Emerson

Last December, I wrote in these pages about allegations of racial discrimination in tenure denial at Emerson College, which had prompted the school to set up a three-person commission charged with reviewing those allegations. The panel’s report has just been released, and the good news is that the panelists “noticed no overtly racist or prejudiced attitudes toward African Americans.” But, alas, there is also bad news: “There are to be found at Emerson unexamined and powerful assumptions and biases about the superiority, preferability, and normativeness of European-American culture, intellectual pursuits, academic discourse, leadership, and so on.” (Emphasis in original.) Left unexamined, these biases result in the “disproportionate undervaluing of African Americans and the disproportionate overvaluing of European Americans.” You can read the entire report here, and I urge you to do so, if you like self-parody.

10 Reasons Not To Wait 25 Years to Revisit Grutter

10. Justice O’Connor now suggests that the social-science evidence on which it was based is shaky.
9. The social-science evidence on which it was based is getting shakier, as more and more disinterested research is done.
8. There should not be a social-science exception to the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause anyhow.
7. In a variety of ways, using racial and ethnic preferences actually aggravates the achievement disparities that prompted Justice O’Connor to allow preferences in the first place.
6. America is becoming increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, and in such a nation it is untenable to have a legal regime that sorts people on the basis of their skin color and what country their ancestors came from.
5. Individual Americans are becoming increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, too, which makes racial and ethnic preferences even more unwieldy and untenable.
4. Justice Alito is more likely to get it right than Justice O’Connor was.
3. Who knows when one of the dissenters in Grutter will be replaced by an Obama appointee?
2. Twenty-five years is too long to leave on the books a bad decision that affects thousands of students every year.
1. The Equal Protection Clause makes it illegal to “deny to any person… the equal protection of the laws.”
————————————————-
In yesterday’s Commentary section, we listed a discussion by George Leef of Justice O’Connor’s second thoughts on Grutter v. Bollinger–her 2003 opinion that upheld racial and ethnic admission preferences at the University of Michigan law school. O’Connor also said she “expected” that in 25 years preferences would no longer be needed.

Affirmative Action—All This Turmoil For So Little?

A Chicago study on “Assessing the Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in Higher Education” comes to this conclusion: black and Hispanic representation at all 4-year colleges is predicted to decline modestly—by 2%—if race-neutral college admissions policies are mandated nationwide. However, race-neutral admissions are predicted to decrease minority representation at the most selective 4-year institutions by 10%.
Now, my question is this: Is it worth it?
That is, the systematic discrimination on the basis of skin color and national origin might have the benefit of increasing the political correctness of universities’ racial and ethnic mix by this, let’s face, trivial amount. And, we are then told, this trivial amount might (since the social scientists are not in agreement) have some marginal improvement in some areas of what students learn.
On the other hand, here are some of the costs of this discrimination: It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school; it encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it mismatches students and institutions, guaranteeing failure for many of the former; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership.
Pencils down. The correct answer is, no, it is not worth it.

Another Bad Idea: ”Diversifying” Science Faculties

Should universities weigh race and ethnicity in deciding whom to hire for their science departments?
The American Association for the Advancement of Science thinks so, according to a recent National Journal article. “Science and engineering should look like the rest of the population,” says AAAS’s Daryl Chubin, and if hiring decisions don’t yield the right numbers, “somebody needs to pull the plug and say this has not been an open and fair search.”
Taking steps to ensure that the best possible individuals apply and are hired is fine—indeed, that’s precisely what the whole process should be about. Casting your recruiting net far and wide is a good idea, as is reassessing your recruiting policies to make sure that you are not overlooking good sources of candidates. Reevaluating selection criteria from time to time is, likewise, unobjectionable; if some criteria are weighed too heavily or not heavily enough, with the result that the best individuals are not selected, then that needs to be fixed. And, of course, everyone involved in the selection process, from beginning to end, needs to be told that the best individuals, regardless of skin color or national origin, are to be picked.
But it’s clear that nondiscrimination is exactly what AAAS does not have in mind. The National Journal article says that it wants to “allocate additional slots to U.S. racial and ethnic minorities” and to protect universities from “likely lawsuits by groups seeking color-blind admissions policies.” As the quotes above suggest, it is demanding that schools get their numbers right. It wants quotas, it wants race and ethnicity to be weighed when hiring decisions are made.

Continue reading Another Bad Idea: ”Diversifying” Science Faculties

Discrimination In Granting Tenure?

Allegations of tenure discrimination have recently been leveled against Emerson College on grounds of race and against DePaul University on grounds of sex.

At Emerson, two black scholars were denied tenure, the local chapter of the NAACP became involved, and an investigation has been launched by the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. The school has agreed to give one of the professors another shot next year, in exchange for dropping his complaint with the Commission.

Four women are challenging DePaul’s tenure denial. They have a lawyer, have unsuccessfully appealed the denial to the school’s president, and have now indicated that they plan to take DePaul to court.

In neither case has direct evidence of discriminatory intent been alleged, such as racist or sexist comments. Instead, statistical disparities of one sort or another are cited.

So, is there anything to these allegations?

Continue reading Discrimination In Granting Tenure?

Ending Racial Preferences: The Michigan Story

Book Review:
Ending Racial Preferences: The Michigan Story by Carol M. Allen (Lexington Books, 2008, 422 pp.)

I like this book, but fairness to the prospective reader requires disclosure of three facts: (a) it is an odd book, (b) I am an odd reader, and (c) it costs ninety dollars, for Pete’s sake.

The last point speaks for itself, and the book is a mere 422 pages long, with no elaborate photos or foldouts or anything like that and not even a book jacket, so go figure. The reason I describe myself as an odd reader is that my lot in life is to write, speak, and debate against racial preferences, so all of the book’s variegated parts are of interest and value to me.

The variegation is the reason I say the book is odd. The author is Carol M. Allen, who is secretary of Toward A Fair Michigan (TAFM), which was created when the movement in Michigan led by Ward Connerly and Jennifer Gratz to ban racial, ethnic, and gender preferences by state programs there was launched in 2003. Probably the most valuable part of the book is its impressively documented and on-the-ground account of how the resulting ballot initiative came to be passed by voters in 2006, despite opposition from every part of the state establishment–business, labor unions, educators and academics, both political parties, the media, and even the clergy. The TAFM folks did their best to lend some civility and thoughtfulness to a campaign in which the initiative’s opponents frequently lived up to the name of their most notorious organization, By Any Means Necessary–whose national chairman threatened Jennifer Gratz with a switchblade, just to give you some idea of the level of discourse it preferred. (BAMN carries on, by the way, in its opposition to similar ballot initiatives this year in Colorado, Arizona, and Nebraska, harassing those collecting signatures and attempting to buy the signatures once collected, presumably so that they can be destroyed.)

Continue reading Ending Racial Preferences: The Michigan Story