“Study, Study, Study” – A Bad Career Move

About five years ago, shortly before my term ended as a Regent of the University of California (UC), I was having a casual conversation with a very high-ranking UC administrator about a proposal that he was developing to increase “diversity” at UC in a manner that would comply with the dictates of California’s Constitution and the prohibition against race, gender and ethnic preferences.
As I listened to his proposal, I asked him why he considered it important to tinker with admissions instead of just letting the chips fall where they may. In an unguarded moment, he told me that unless the university took steps to “guide” admissions decisions, UC would be dominated by Asians. When I asked, “What would be wrong with that?” I got an answer that speaks volumes about the underlying philosophy at many universities with regard to Asian enrollment.
The UC administrator told me that Asians are “too dull – they study, study, study.” He then said, “If you ever say I said this, I will have to deny it.” I won’t betray the individual’s anonymity because to do so would put him in a world of trouble – and he would, indeed, deny having said it. Yet, it is time to confront the not-so-subtle hand of discrimination against Asians that masquerades as “building diversity” at many elite college campuses.

It is a mistake to believe that all forms of discrimination flow from hate and inherently foul motives. Certainly, the desire to attract more black students to a campus that is lacking in blacks is not an evil aspiration; however, when it becomes necessary to reject those who “study, study, study” in order to admit those who study insufficiently, then the mission to include more blacks becomes a much more ominous one.
Since the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, Asian enrollment at UC has skyrocketed. UC Berkeley currently has a 42% Asian undergraduate enrollment; UC Irvine is at 55%; UC Riverside is 43%; and UC Los Angeles is 38%. The overall percentage in the nine undergraduate UC campuses is over 40%, in a state where the Asian population is about 13%. Thus, Asians are excelling under policies that emphasize and reward academic achievement at a ratio that is over three times their actual statewide population. If you are a proponent of “diversity” and representation (essentially a de facto quota system), this outcome is your worst nightmare.
As the percentage of Asians has skyrocketed, there is no question that UC administrators and social engineers on the UC faculty have become increasingly alarmed and feel a sense of obligation to do something to reverse the direction of UC’s rapidly growing Asian student population; and, clearly, the only way to reduce the Asian presence is to place less emphasis on academic achievement.
In recent months, the UC Regents have deliberated about – and approved – a proposal that would significantly revise the admissions policies of the university. Beginning in 2012, UC will no longer automatically admit the top 12.5% of all students based on statewide performance, and will no longer rely so heavily on grades and test scores. Instead, the eligibility pool will be expanded by a projected 40% by eliminating the requirement for applicants to take the SAT subject matter tests. The net effect of these changes is that academic achievement will be less significant and UC admissions administrators will have the “flexibility” to discriminate against those “dull” Asians who “study, study, study” all the time without violating Proposition 209.
As is generally the case, the UC faculty was well aware of the probable effect of its proposed changes upon different racial and ethnic groups. Such knowledge is gained by the use of simulation models that are run as a matter of standard practice when new admissions criteria and policies are being proposed. Clearly, the UC leadership was fully aware of that its proposals would result in fewer Asians in UC admissions once the new policies kicked in.
Until now, it was certain that any change in policies that would adversely affect Asians would go unchallenged by Asians. The so-called Asian civil rights groups, such as Chinese for Affirmative Action, which purport to represent the interest of Asians, have not served their communities with distinction. Having cast their lot with the “diversity” and inclusion crowd, they have looked the other way when Asians have been the victims of blatant discrimination. The absence of a squeaky wheel demanding grease allowed the UC faculty and Regents to roll right along with their proposal and to approve it.
The proposed UC admissions policies are so egregious and so dramatically discriminatory against Asians that these groups could not remain silent – and have credibility within their communities, as the grassroots opposition from within specific Asians groups began to surface. It is noteworthy that what concerns these groups most is not the discriminatory effects of UC’s proposals upon Asians, or the prospect of more blacks and Latinos being admitted, but the possibility that those devilish whites might stand to benefit from the changes. As one Asian advocate put it, “…it is patently unreasonable to herald any sort of increase in student diversity if it comes with an increase in white students… this is unacceptable.”
There is one truth that is universally applicable in the era of “diversity,” especially in American universities: an absolute unwillingness to accept the verdict of colorblind policies. Until that fact changes, UC and other American institutions will continue trying to fix that which is not broken, to achieve their arrogant version of “diversity,” by discriminating against those “dull” Asians, such as two of my grandchildren whose mother is half-Vietnamese.


19 thoughts on ““Study, Study, Study” – A Bad Career Move

  1. Talent lying in the understanding is often inherited genius being the action of reason or imagination rarely or never.

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  6. i have to agree atleast partially with the writer of this post. while i dont have anything against Danny Boyle and i am sure SM was just his honest attempt at telling a heart warming story, it is true that the west in general does look at India as a land of poverty, much more so than it actually is.I too thought that way too much was being made about SM in India and how it portrays India in a negative light, but after watching the oscars this year, and mostly because of the film that won best documentary, Pinki Smiling i have to agree with the so called cynics. Not only was it by far not the best nominated documentary, but it was also nothing new. it was along the same lines as the documentary made a few years ago about the children of sex workers.once again, i have nothing against Boyle, but the fact is that as a whole unit the western media does tend to portray India in a light of poverty and corruption. it has become a trend like Bhajji bashing in australia or making fun of the Indian accent in Diasporic communities. While, with this as a base we cannot protest against good film makers making well meaning films, like SM, which atleast in my opinion talks about an important matter and holds it up to society in an entertaining manner like a good film should, but we must be wary of this general trend and not let India be marked as a land of slums and slumdogs like it used to be a land of just snake charmers.Just a thought.

  7. This article has impressive rhetoric, but its analysis and factual basis are inadequate.
    Connerly seems to argue that the UC Regents’ proposal is an attempt to reduce the number of Asians admitted. While this would indeed be alarming, the evidence Connerly offers is scant: only an anonymous comment by a UC administrator, of general nature, which was not necessarily related to the current policy proposal.
    There are plenty of alternative explanations for eliminating the 12.5% policy. Many universities do not use such an automatic system based only on numerical indices such as the SAT and GPA. For example, Harvard is well known to turn down thousands of perfect SAT scorers, valedictorians, etc., every year, but rather looks among high scorers for those that have very distinguished additional qualifications, such as excellence in national competitions. I was myself admitted based on a top-ten performance in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search even though I had neither a perfect SAT score nor valedictory status, and Harvard could have limited their admissions only to such applicants.
    I’m not saying that UC should adopt the same type of admissions system as the Ivy League schools, but only that there are other reasons for abolishing the 12.5% system aside from racial discrimination; and the article unfortunately stops short of providing a logical connection here based on facts. Perhaps, abolishing this would improve the diversity of activities as well as backgrounds of the student body without diminishing academic ability.
    Or, perhaps not; perhaps the proposal is really a thinly-veiled attempt to reduce the number of Asian Californians admitted. But we would not be able to determine this from the article, which doesn’t provide a single sourced comment (even the comment from the Asian advocate is unattributed), let alone one that would support the assertion.
    I suggest that, in the future, Connerly favor deeper analysis and more solid factual bases over heated but hollow rhetoric.
    Note: this is a revised version of a response I posted to Williams’ commentary on this article, at http://townhall.com/columnists/WalterEWilliams/2009/06/24/vicious_academic_liberals .

  8. Funny thing about left/liberals, they can only increase opportunity for one group by taking it away from another. Why be productive? That’s too hard! (Even for folk with PhDs, it’s easier to redistributively tear someone else down than contructively build someone up… “Eat the rich!” and all that.)

  9. How old are you, Albert Terry? I am 42, have lived in the South all my life, and blacks walking to dilapidated schools while whites drove past in shiny buses was a thing of the past when I was a kindergartener.
    Even if you are in your 60’s or 70’s and really do vividly remember discrimination in your childhood, do you really think nothing has changed?
    And even if you honestly, and despite all evidence, believe that nothing has changed, that little black kids in the South aren’t allowed on the buses and white kids get all new books every year, does that really make discriminating against Asian teenagers in California a positive good? How so?

  10. It’s surprising to read Albert Terry’s accusation that Connerly is a beneficiary of affirmative action. Connerly certainly went through college before AA was a factor. Maybe Terry has something else in mind, but, if so, he should be specific, instead of making the unsupported statement that he did.
    Regarding Terry’s statement, “Affrimative [sic] Action critics know we weren’t asking for preferential advantages, ..” we critics know exactly the opposite. **Of course** the proponents are asking for preferences!
    Besides that, affirmative action is bad because, like every entitlement program, it has metastasized. Why should non-white immigrants, especially those who landed here after the civil rights era, get preferential treatment over whites? Such immigrants came here of their own volition and certainly have no legitimate claims against American society. But the iron law of government bureaucracies is that they assure their survival by growing their constituencies. This unintended consequence is reason enough to decide that affirmative action was a fatally flawed idea from the start.
    But there’s more. Terry complains “Yet critics of Affirmative action have done from little to nothing to alleviate blacks’ historical plight ..” However, once the government is color blind, there’s nothing else for affirmative action critics to do as a matter of public policy. (Of course, they can offer their individual help as mentors or tutors to individuals or establish civic organizations to make such help available more widely.)
    That’s because you can’t do someone else’s development for them. They have to do the hard work themselves. This isn’t a matter of selfishness on the part of the critics. It’s a statement about reality — if you don’t do the work, if the results are just bestowed upon you, then you don’t learn anything and you don’t develop.

  11. Mr Albert, with all due respect, your comment is blatantly racist. You presume from the opening remark that Mr. Connerly could only have succeeded with the help of Affirmative Action (AA). You preclude any possibility that he could have succeeded without AA, simply because of the color of his skin. That’s an assumption about a man’s personal history and abilities based purely on the melanin content in his skin. Shame on you.
    Your second sentence asserts, fairly, some of the most cogent arguments against AA. However, your only counter-point is that the proponents of those arguments haven’t offered alternatives. A lack of alternatives does not imply that a particular course of action is effective, advisable, or even Constitutional. Justice O’Connor, in her opinion in the 2003 Univ of Michigan AA cases (Gratz and Grutter v Bollinger), noted that she hoped these racial preferences would be gone in 25 years… not exactly a ringing endorsement of its propriety.
    Further, getting underperforming Blacks or Latinos into UC does not guarantee their success. Indeed, it places them among a population of students (of all skin tones) who have proven to be far more adept at study and educational success. This seems more likely to increase the AA recipients’ chances for remaining at the bottom end of the Bell curve… setting them up for failure, not a bright future.
    UC is incredibly using race to make admission policy decisions as the proper way to enforce the prohibition against using racial preferences. One is truly left to wonder what UC will use next for admissions criteria, if grades, test scores, race, and ethnicity are now all supposedly off the table. Shall we try musical talents? Probably too many top-notch Asian cellists and floutists. Keep searching.
    The most appropriate alternative is the one that we cannot seem to accept… or even allow… that schools simply remove race from the application forms, and take the best of the best from the applicant pool based on their performance, their ability, and “the content of the character, not the color of their skin”. That perfomance-based criterion (once suggested by a rather admirable man) is the only one required in a truly just society. Shame on all of us for refusing to even allow it into the arena of ideas. There will never be a day when one can say “There is no racism in our present or in our past!” Urging blatantly racist policies in an effort to get to that day is foolhardy, and below our great education system.

  12. Ward is absolutely right and Albert’s comment ignores utterly the facts of affirmative action which is contrary to the sound policy of admitting college students, hiring employees and promoting them based on merit and achievement.
    I am sorry you had to wait at the bus stop but I recall sitting at my Asian American daughter- in- law’s law school graduation while a black student harangued UCLA for not putting an even bigger thumb on the scale for blacks. In the meantime, the audience was made up in large part of poor immigrants who certainly endured a lot and sacrificed a great deal for that moment.(In my daughter-in-law’s case her family lost everything they had , including their good health, when they were wrongly interned for no good reason by the federal government.)
    You are asking for preferences, Albert, and for the most part they are going to the children and grandchildren of people who already received preferences themselves.
    It’s time to call it a day.

  13. Ward Connerly, recipient beneficiary of Affirmative Action, evidently acceedes to the conservative notion that Affirmative Action fosters reverse discrimination, and tends to interject unfair advantages into school admissions programs. Yet critics of Affirmative action have done from little to nothing to alleviate blacks’ historical plight, and systemic designs to limit–sometimes bar– opportunities for black parents to access envoronments seen as conducive to achieving competitive educations for African Americans’ aspirations for their children. Imagine the hues and cries if our historical roles were reversed.
    All the while, these advantages are assumed by many fellow Americans as automatic inalienable rights; yet we black children of the South were systematically denied these notions and privileges. Legally. For example, I vividly recall having to walk past bus stops where white kids were picked up and driven by bus to a modern school which I had to walk past to reach my dilapidated “school”. Our books were mostly used books from that same wite school.
    Affrimative Action critics know we weren’t asking for preferential advantages, but an absolutely level playing field. Accordingly, we did think it was reasonable for those who showed potential but were bereft of the academic credentials deserved a chance to prove they could perform competetively with others with better credentials. Instead, critics decried these adjustments, labeling them as “preferential”, “quotas”, “reverse discrimination”, and the like. I cannot recall a single time when these critics admitted blacks had been deprived and neglected– by design. And for years we’ve heard repeatedly the merits of why they opposed Affirmative Action, but we never heard a single suggestion as to how they would remedy the effects of this intentional neglect, and create and maintain a sustainable level playing field. And that’s the biggest tragedy of all.

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