The Latest Sad Protests at Duke

As KC Johnson explained here a study by social scientists at Duke found that African American students
“disproportionately migrate from science and engineering majors to less
challenging majors in the humanities,” thus questioning the benefits of
preferential admissions. In response,
faculty members and student groups protested. It’s important to examine
the actual content of those protest statements, if only to realize fully how
biased, anti-scientific, and politically-motivated they are.


Here are some examples:

• “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,” said Nana Asante, president of the Duke student
alliance, in a letter to the North Carolina NAACP. “What image has this
report portrayed to the rest of the country, namely our peer institutions,
about Duke and its black students?” (quoted in The Grio).

• “If even a study author claims that Duke’s Black
students would graduate from college without affirmative action, how exactly
does this report support an anti-affirmative action case? Is it just gonna be
open season on Negroes forever, or is the race baiting game just heating up due
to the election? And can someone please explain to these White folks that it’s
years of proven discrimination–not Black laziness–that makes affirmative action
so important?” (Ebony Magazine).

• “Duke study slamming affirmative action re-opens old
racial wounds” (Twitter post by Duke professor Karla Holloway).

• “Black undergrads are mere fodder for this attack on
affirmative action and the liberal arts. ‘What Happens After Enrollment‘ is a
political tract disguised as scholarly inquiry.” (Tim Tyson, “The Econometrics of Pear Blossoms,” Durham News).

• “Duke’s black students have every right to be outraged
and stage protests. But they could do more.” (The Daily Tar Heel).

• “‘This study does not embody Duke’s values as an
institution,’ said sophomore Jacob Tobia, who attended the demonstration. ‘We
do not stand for that type of racist inquiry and that misuse of academia to
mischaracterize the accomplishments of the African-American students at our
institution.'” (Quoted in American Renaissance).

One wonders if the degree to which scientists who examine
affirmative action policies and derive findings that question its effectiveness
are subject to smears will come into play in the upcoming public debate surrounding
the next affirmative action case heading to the Supreme Court. This episode is a blatant example of how
affirmative action degrades the intellectual climate of the university, and
with the intellectual climate of the university now a central justification for
affirmative action (that is, diversity supposedly creates a better learning
environment), reactions to the Duke report say otherwise.


  • Mark Bauerlein

    Mark Bauerlein is a professor emeritus of English at Emory University and an editor at First Things, where he hosts a podcast twice a week. He is the author of five books, including The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults.

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27 thoughts on “The Latest Sad Protests at Duke

  1. The Universities in this nation have gone, in the span of a rough 50 years, from the freest, the most open to inquiry and debate [ in the whole bloody world] to ones where the simple act of looking at what people major in, what they stick to majoring in, and what they end up majoring in, has become a Thought Crime. It now takes bravery, for god’s sake, genuine bravery, to report clearly on ordinary, everyday, data….
    America, you are Insane.

  2. Beneficiaries of affirmative action policies think they can accept these special favors without having to pay anything for them.
    But those special favors do come at a very high cost. For with those favors will always come questions about your accomplishments and your competence. And that is a very, very high cost to pay.

  3. “• “Duke study slamming affirmative action re-opens old racial wounds” (Twitter post by Duke professor Karla Holloway).”
    May we assume that Prof. Holloway condemned the treatment of the Duke Lacrosse team in the harshest possible terms? If not, then I have no interest in her opinion, because she is a racist.

  4. Affirmative Action, by it’s very existence, keeps Racism alive. It says, “You are inferior and we all know it so I will deign to help you pretend to be ‘equal’ by lowering the standards just for you.” That is racist. Why are leftists so willfully blind?

  5. The moocher class isn’t real open to any discussions based on merit. ‘Shut Up’, they explained.

  6. Politics of the Left has deliberately transformed a “victim” group into an entitlement group, thus moving it as a reliable voting bloc into the camp that promised the most free goodies. What you see in the responses to the study is a concerted squeal motivated by the possibility that someone could take away a goody or two. Students, who might actually be victims of the very policies being defended by the respondents, are only the excuse du jour. It’s the comfortable preferential group position that must be protected at any cost.

  7. Whether students of African descent do, or do not, pursue particular studies is fairly easily quantified, statistically (and thus fairly closed to misinterpretation).
    I’m thinking a t-test, possibly chi-square. Either way, facts is facts.

  8. I notice none of the people quoted offers facts or analysis that would challenge the study. They just don’t like it. For them, that’s enough to label it as racist.

  9. It seems to me that this “study” didn’t, or shouldn’t even rise to the level of a study. The numbers should be unequivocal and easily obtained.
    A student, black or white, enters the university taking engineering, biology or whatever “hard” science you want to name.
    It doesn’t take a whole lot of number crunching to find out what subjects they were studying when they left or graduated. Or am I missing something here?
    Therefore, what the “researchers” (it could have been done by a file clerk thus the quotation marks)discovered are empirical, indisputable facts which they are simply stating.
    How does one protest against such simple facts?
    Perhaps they should protest administrators who allow people, of any color, to enter university when, chances are, they have already shown they are not up to the challenge!
    In my estimation, affirmative action has, in many cases, simply promoted the idea that anyone can go to college. They cannot, unfortunately. Even knowing this basic fact, universities are loathe to speak against it because it takes money out of their pockets. If we are all supposed to be equal, as everyone wants to pretend, there is no reason to lower standards for any target group and waste the student’s or the university’s time.

  10. Given the faculty response to the Duke lacrosse rape hoax/smear and then this, I, as an employer, seriously question the judgement of any white male who chooses to attend an institution with such an obviously hostile environment.

  11. Any competent, confident man would be insulted by the basic idea of affirmative action. To be classified as inferior is racist. But blacks ARE NOT INSULTED. Which supports the perception of inferiority.

  12. As a small correction, Nana Asante is not “president of the Duke student alliance,” but president of the Duke Black Student Alliance, a long standing pressure group on campus.

  13. I think these studies are done to mine data and see trends. When African Americans or others react like this it is probably because they don’t want to know the information or have it exposed. If the trend shows that students are opting out of the sciences for humanities you ask the question why?

  14. One cannot help but notice that the protests all come from less-challenging Humanities types. One suspects that if they had the chops to follow the methodology and the statistical analysis, they wouldn’t have dropped out of the more difficult math & science majors, and been stuck writing meaningless drivel for various advocacy groups.
    Just goes to show that the old advice never goes stale: when you can’t argue against the math, simply claim that the research is racist.

  15. “What image has this report portrayed to the rest of the country, namely our peer institutions, about Duke and its black students?”
    An accurate one.

  16. The answer is obvious to anyone who cares to think about it: Constructs of the white, male, heterosexual power structure like the diode equation, Ohm’s law or F=ma must be crushed before the righteous rage of The People, and suitable, race-, sex- and ethnic substitutes implemented.

  17. What happens to blacks after admission is of no concern to anyone and should not be tracked or analyzed in any way.

  18. The objections assume bigotry, but the study authors are not presented with the accusations and are thus not allowed to rebut.
    The data set should be made available since it has made enough of a splash to hit “drudge”. This way, local objectors will have the opportunity to be educated on how to actually evaluate a study-if they have a reasonable approach to resulting back-and-forth.

  19. It’s a sad statement on the mindset of those shilling for so-called “affirmative action” that they can’t accept a factual, reproduceable data set in the process of scientific inquiry. As far as I can tell, the authors make no judgement as to the cause of this migration from technical to non-technical majors, so why all the drama? A fact is a fact, whether you are comfortable with it or not. Affirmative action does indeed degrade the intellectual climate on campus as demonstrated by the demagogues at Duke and around the country. This is just another example of the erosion of intellectual thought and discussion in our “higher” education system.

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