Affirmative action in college admissions: Are admissions ever fair, given the range of exceptions?

This week, the AJC ran an op-ed by Kansas City Star columnist Mary Sanchez on the affirmative action case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will hear arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin next week.

The Sanchez column prompted Mark Bauerlein of Emory University to offer up a counter view. Both are below.

The Supreme Court last addressed race in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision. In a 5-4 vote, the court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School, saying that the Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

In Fisher v. Texas, the court is considering the claim of a white student who said she lost a seat at the University of Texas at Austin because of her race. Under the “Talented 10″ policy in Texas, students in the top 10 percent of any Texas high school are assured admittance to any state institution of higher learning. Abigail Fisher was not among the top 10 percent of her class but argues that she would have merited admission in the general applicant pool had it not been for racial preferences.

A key point to consider: Are college admissions ever fair? Colleges often lower their standards for the children of big donors or children of prominent alums. Exceptions can be made for a variety of reasons, including athletic prowess, unique talents and geography. If state flagship campuses did not consider geographic diversity, even more of their students would hail from the same wealthy suburbs.

Back to the Fisher case. Here are two points of view on it:

First, Sanchez, who wrote:

Texas automatically accepts the top 10 percent of each of its high schools’ graduating classes.

Abigail Fisher didn’t make the 10 percent cut. Nor was she admitted based on other criteria. She sued, arguing she was denied admission because of her race. Fisher and her lawyers are in effect alleging that she was more deserving than at least one nonwhite student admitted to the university. Indeed, the subtext of the backlash against affirmative action and “diversity” is that the white student is always more deserving.

But what do we mean by “deserving”? Colleges often weigh race-neutral factors such as socio-economic status, whether a student is the first in their family to attend college, or whether the family moved often during the student’s formative years. Low-income white students from rural areas often benefit equally from such considerations.

How should an admissions committee weigh the academic potential of a child who took tough college-prep coursework and earned a 3.5 GPA against the student who worked a part-time job throughout high school, managed a 3.0 GPA in semi-rigorous school work, did community service and also lettered in one sport? Who “deserves” the slot more?

America’s public colleges and universities, after all, are simply reflections of the quality of the nation’s school districts. Hispanic, black and Native American students statistically fare worse in elementary and secondary schools, and are often racially isolated in low-income areas. No Child Left Behind has made that case clear with endless data on standardized test performance.

Those same minority students also make up 39 percent of the current K-12 population. They are a large proportion of the future workforce, and the pressing problem we face is extending educational opportunities to them. Affirmative action was meant to be a way to right old wrongs. “Diversity” is a more recent rationale.

An interesting footnote is that the man credited with coining the slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” is also known as the father of affirmative action. Arthur Fletcher was a Republican who served under Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He decried the divisive attitudes that came to surround affirmative action. Fletcher simply wanted to address the inequities that resulted from generations of legalized segregation and accepted discrimination. He helped fund the famous Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case. Segregation ended, but the inequities persist.

Now, here is the view of  Mark Bauerlein, Emory professor and author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30.”

Mary Sanchez’ column on affirmative action in college admissions makes the same factual error that many defenders of the policy make. She says that minority students “are a large proportion of the future workforce, and the pressing problem we face is extending educational opportunities to them.”

The fact is that eliminating race-based admissions criteria will not curtail educational opportunities for minority students one bit. To believe it is to subscribe to what’s called the “Yale or jail” argument — that somehow if the selective institutions can’t do it, those students will fall out of the system entirely.

In truth, what will happen is that minority students will fall one or two rungs down the institutional ladder, from Tier 1 to Tier 2, etc. And since the majority of students in the United States attend non-selective institutions, things there won’t change at all.

Furthermore, in the area of selective institutions, recent research filed in support of Amy Fisher shows that when minority students attend schools in which they have to compete with students who have earned higher grades and scores they gravitate out of competitive fields such as pre-med and engineering.

In this case, affirmative action does precisely what Ms. Sanchez bemoans — curtailing educational opportunities.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

97 comments Add your comment

Lee

October 5th, 2012
5:51 am

“At the University of Texas, whose racial preference programs come before the Supreme Court for oral argument on October 10, the typical black student receiving a race preference placed at the 52nd percentile of the SAT; the typical white was at the 89th percentile. In other words, Texas is putting blacks who score at the middle of the college-aspiring population in the midst of highly competitive students. This is the sort of academic gap where mismatch flourishes. And, of course, mismatch does not occur merely with racial preferences; it shows up with large preferences of all types.

Research on the mismatch problem was almost non-existent until the mid-1990s; it has developed rapidly in the past half-dozen years, especially among labor economists. To cite just a few examples of the findings:

Black college freshmen are more likely to aspire to science or engineering careers than are white freshmen, but mismatch causes blacks to abandon these fields at twice the rate of whites.

Blacks who start college interested in pursuing a doctorate and an academic career are twice as likely to be derailed from this path if they attend a school where they are mismatched.

About half of black college students rank in the bottom 20 percent of their classes (and the bottom 10 percent in law school).

Black law school graduates are four times as likely to fail bar exams as are whites; mismatch explains half of this gap.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/the-painful-truth-about-affirmative-action/263122/#

But yet, the politically correct crazies will never admit they are putting Shetland Ponies in the Kentucky Derby….

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
6:29 am

affirmative action has no place in college admissions – or hiring for that matter.
admit kids based on their scores, their essays, their outside activities.
not the color of their skin, who they sleep with, or whatever niche of the month they fit

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
6:35 am

simple fact is, affirmative action has become a perk those who receive it are unwilling to give up.

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
6:48 am

What about the affirmative action programs that allowed a C average student, George W. Bush, to attend Yale? Rich white people have, and still do, benefit from the institutional racism of our country. Get over your privileged whiney selves.

An Accidential Professor

October 5th, 2012
7:14 am

I agree with teacher. Why is it people are always outraged when minorities receive special treatment when the rules are always optional for prestigious alumni and those who can afford to make generous donations?

Van Jones

October 5th, 2012
7:22 am

Prof, I think it narrow-minded to insinuate that minorities cannot be prestigious alumni or afford to make generout donations.
Teacher, great job immediately going for the lowest common denominator. That’s where the small minds live.

guest

October 5th, 2012
7:23 am

Teacher, I really hope you’re not a real teacher. But, then again, if you are, I’m not really surprised.

guest

October 5th, 2012
7:25 am

Prof, go ahead and say what you’re really thinking. Minorities = blacks. Asians don’t seem to have any problem getting a good education here and getting good jobs. They don’t sit around whining that they evil white man is keeping them down.

An Accidential Professor

October 5th, 2012
7:35 am

@ Van Jones- You are absolutely correct. I apologize for the generalization and did not mean to offend.

However, teacher did not simply go “for the lowest common denominator”. This is a reality at many selective (and those that think they are selective) institutions. It is a fact that numerous exceptions are made for foreign students, athletes, ROTC participants and children of prestigious alumni. Yet people are outraged when we consider exceptions for students who legitimately did not have access to the same education as those who grew up in middle class suburbs. To be clear, I do not consider this a race issue as much as a class issue.

Personally, I had a very difficult time gaining admittance to graduate programs as a white girl from a poor family. I maintained a 3.0 in college while working full time and participating in community service but I am plagued with an inability to perform well on standardized tests. Despite over seven years of industry experience, I was passed up for other students (including the disabled and racial minorities) because I did not fit into any “special category”. Surely if I came from different circumstances, someone would have made a phone class and got me in.

indigo

October 5th, 2012
7:36 am

Integration has been the law of the land for over 40 years now. And yet, affirmative action is still being argured in the courts. It’s a good thing we’re not too worried about our world image as this kind of behavior makes all of us look very foolish.

An Accidential Professor

October 5th, 2012
7:38 am

@ Guest- The largest minority group in the United States happens to be the disabled so please do not claim to “know” what I am thinking. Again, this is ultimately a class issue- not a race issue.

An Accidential Professor

October 5th, 2012
7:47 am

@ Indigo- Just because integration was mandated does not mean that schools were suddenly “equal”. Its not like Brown v BOE was passed and suddenly all students were attending the same schools.

I do not think you can compare a school in North Fulton with a school in rural Georgia. Students from the middle class suburbs are far more prepared for college than students from other areas, however, many of those students are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in spite of their backgrounds once they enter college so lets give them a chance. That’s all I’m saying…..

John Konop

October 5th, 2012
8:01 am

Teacher,

No doubt rich kids get a pass sometimes in getting into colleges as well as extra support via the money. In reality this is a very low percentage of kids. The biggest victims are the kids pushed to a level that does not match their aptitude.

It starts with students of all races dropping out of high school. Than the next group of students that get pushed above their aptitude into a college, they now cannot maintain scholarships……which are key for students who come from middle to Lower income families.

Now their options are pushed down with many times a wasted year of college. This now puts the kid in massive debt student loan cycle, if they continue education it is at the original school matching thier aptitude in the first place, but now they are left with a hefty bill.

This No Chil Left Behind mentality on a macro has hurt way more lower income kids than it helped. Drop out rate out of control, with 4 miillion vocational job openings the kids could of been trained for, and student debt massive and growing! Rich kid fails, mom and dad make them go to the local
Hcollege as punishment with no debt.

You tell me what group got the short end on this deal?

John Konop

October 5th, 2012
8:03 am

…mom and dad make them go to local college…..

Maureen Downey

October 5th, 2012
8:12 am

@John, Difficult to know how many students are admitted as legacies with lower credentials than what the school holds out as its standard.
I recently cited this Duke information, which gives us a small view of this world:

In a study of legacy admissions at prestigious Duke University, researchers Nathan D. Martin and Kenneth I. Spenner found that these students trail their peers in academic credentials: “The average SAT score for legacies is about 40 points lower than students with professional degree parents, and about 12 points lower than students with other degree parents.”

The independent Duke student newspaper, the Chronicle, reported that children of alumni made up 20.4 percent of students in 2008, and 13 percent of the graduating class of 2015.

james

October 5th, 2012
8:16 am

Gaining admission to a college should be about the
students grades, test scores, outside activities, etc
The color of your skin should make no differene– in fact
it should even be on application.

Trust me being an alumni of UGA isn’t going to get my kid
in anymore. Those days went away back in the late 70’s.

What will get her in is hard work, taking AP courses and showing
that she can do college level work. I have many UGA friends whose
kids didn’t work hard enough or don’t have the test scores who didn’t
or will not get into UGA or Tech. The parents will have to pay out of
state so their kid can experience big college life such as at Auburn,
Ole Miss,Bama and others school who love the Georgia HS kids and their
$$.

Life isn’t fair so get over it… Work hard and you will be
sucessful…

Maureen Downey

October 5th, 2012
8:17 am

@To all, I did this interview pre blog days, but think the information is relevant:

The elite U.S. universities remain “bastions of privilege” in spite of decades of affirmative action and a stated commitment by schools to diversify their campuses, says the author of a new book on college admissions. In “Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action, ” higher education journalist Peter Schmidt argues that many select schools give admissions preference to white applicants and that, while people resent race-conscious admissions, they ignore admissions based on wealth or influence. “As it stands now, if anyone is winning the war over college affirmative action, it’s wealthy white kids, ” says Schmidt, a deputy editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Schmidt says he called his book “Color and Money” because those are the two chief considerations in college admissions at select campuses. He says the system is so flawed that colleges label the children of Vietnamese boat people and West Virginia coal miners as historically advantaged, while extending affirmative action to African-American kids whose parents are doctors, all the while quietly dropping their standards for wealthy white kids who bring in donor dollars.

In a telephone interview this week, Schmidt discussed his book. Here’s an edited transcript of that conversation:

Q. You say in your book that 15 percent of the students admitted to the country’s most prestigious colleges don’t have any business being there, that they got a blatant preference. Some are athletes. Others have political connections or their families gave money. Some have parents who teach at the college. So when working-class parents complain that their child was denied admission to Harvard or Yale, it’s not because their seat went to a minority student, but to an unqualified but privileged white applicant?

A. Right now, instead of reaching down and trying to pull up kids who have overcome their circumstances in life, colleges are reaching down and pulling up kids who were advantaged and have blown the advantage they had. That’s basically how these donor preferences, these legacy preferences and these children of faculty preferences work. By and large, we are talking about populations of kids who have had every opportunity, but have shown up unable to compete and get in on their own and colleges are lowering the bar for them. Duke University has acknowledged accepting annually 100 to 125 students based on their family wealth or connections, up from 20 a year in the early 1990s.

Research shows that if colleges rethought their preferences for legacy donors and athletes and all these other populations, the enrollment of lower-income and marginally even minority students would rise.

Q. Don’t these affluent kids enjoy other advantages, including better high schools and test coaching?

A. There is a whole other layer that kids of privilege enjoy that is worth debating, including the SAT. If you have $500 for a SAT prep course, you can buy yourself 100 points. Once you get past the 15 percent of kids who get a blatant preference on these campuses, there is a sizable percentage who are there because they got SAT prep. Harvard turns away a couple of thousand of valedictorians each year. Are the legacies that Harvard is admitting below their academic threshold? Are these kids admitted under these preference categories pushing aside other kids who are as bright and brighter? Yes.

Q. Can’t schools argue that their legacy admissions benefit all kids because the donations from grateful parents improve the education for all students?

A. The question is whether that money is going to improve access or to help needy students and the other question is whether that money would still be donated in the absence of a perceived admission benefit. Right now, we are in a situation where people think they can leverage admission by donating money. Perhaps, if the culture went away, you could argue that the expectation might go away as well. If you are in a country where people routinely bribe police, the police might pull you over for the sake of getting bribes. When there is a crackdown on bribes, it goes away. You would never think of trying to bribe police officers in the United States because the expectation is not there.

Texas A&M did away with legacy admissions and said its donation rate did not drop at all. On the other side, there was a study that talked about parents donating money to colleges with the expectation of their kids being admitted. Their behavior was affected if that tie between donations and admission was not perceived.

So, the evidence goes both ways.

On the issue of how this money is being used, there is a fair amount of evidence that this money is not being used for aid for needy kids. The need-based share of the aid pie has been shrinking at both public and private institutions. While I am not making a judgment, I am throwing out for consideration that there are more than 100 colleges paying their presidents more than $500,000 a year. And a lot of professors also make fairly good salaries. Depending on the college, you might find a fair amount of mahogany in their buildings.

So, there is the question of whether these institutions are operating as efficiently as they could. The bottom line is that I don’t buy the argument that a dollar gained by granting an admissions preference is a dollar that is going to be spent on needy students. I think needy students are getting a very small share of that preference dollar.

Q. Is there any movement to end legacy preferences?

A. No one is saying take legacies off the table. Some people are saying give poor kids the same benefit. But who is going to lose in that — the ones in the middle. The middle class has really been squeezed at these institutions.

Colleges want to be able to send the message to their alums that legacy kids are going to be taken care of because that gets their alumni to donate. Some schools are very open about legacies. Notre Dame says “Yup, 23 percent of our students are legacies.” Because they are all about that family attachment to their institution.

Q. You make a point that racial diversity at elite schools is often the African-American daughter of a doctor from Denver rather than the daughter of a black bus driver from Boston. And you note that only 3 percent of the students at the nation’s top-tier colleges come from the most disadvantaged fourth of society. Do colleges care about class diversity?

A. At the University of Tennessee, the average income of the families of students is more than $100,000 a year. Yet, Tennessee is not anyone’s idea of a rich state; the average income is closer to $40,000. Another figure that is telling is that at Northwestern University, a fifth of the students come from families making $250,000 a year.

There is just not much class diversity on these campuses.

skipper

October 5th, 2012
8:21 am

The number of kids of big donors getting in is negligable. There are to few to skew the numbers. Take the color graph completely off any application……”Marquez” or “Shikita” may give race away (not making fun…stating a fact) but put nothing about race on any application; see what happens. And yes, athletes do get special attantion. they have a special skill……..right or wrong it is what it is.

John Konop

October 5th, 2012
8:33 am

Maureen,

Legacy kids on a macro come from money. A middle class and lower income kids need the scholarship money or they fall into a cycle of debt. Is this fair no, but it is reality. I am 50 years old, when I went to school room and tuition was about 3k a year. Even if you lost scholarship, most kids could work and go to school and even if they needed student loans on a macro it was not a material amount over time.

Now if you make a bad call on the right school the numbers are staggering the amount of debt a kid can accumulate, we are talking like a house payment! The average college graduate from lower to middle income families this is a massive weight put on them even if they make it and get a degree.

When you normalize incomes for graduate taking out engerneering, professionals and business the debt to income is tough.

Once again this cycle starts as early as high school, with drop out rates verse income. As it continues the real victims are middle to lower income families. You are right some kids fall through the cracks via tracking by aptitude, but on a macro the numbers show us who the short end of this deal.

justjanny

October 5th, 2012
8:39 am

Oh those 47 per centers! Again, wanting to leech and have a free ride! Wake up, people, just borrow money for your education from your parents!

bu2

October 5th, 2012
8:50 am

Schmidt makes a good point. I’ve read the President of the University of Texas on this. He’s upset he can’t get the 30th percentile African American son of a Doctor from Plano HS (think North Gwinnet HS) and has to take a 10th percentile son of a white clerical worker from Plano HS, or worse yet from rural West Texas. Its race discrimination, plain and simple. Its not about giving advantages to the disadvantaged. He’s also upset that out of state schools (including schools like Duke) are giving that 30th percentile son of a doctor a full scholarship while he can’t even get him admitted. He doesn’t seem to realize, but losing could put him on a more equal footing.

The legacy issue is a red herring. Legacies have been abandoned in almost all public universities. The Ivy League is influential, but its only 8 universities. And how many of those 15% are athletes or other preferences? Schmidt doesn’t say. There are only so many admitted because of donations (I do know someone who’s done it who says EVERY school has its price). How many people have the extra 50k or 100k or 250k or whatever it is(or think its worth it) to get their child admission to one of these universities?

Oddly the biggest defenders of affirmative action, which as practiced is a form of race discrimination, are those most vocally opposed to racial discrimination.

Mike

October 5th, 2012
9:07 am

Q. You say in your book that 15 percent of the students admitted to the country’s most prestigious colleges don’t have any business being there, that they got a blatant preference. Some are athletes.

Yea, like 14.99% are athletes? My son attended and graduated from Ga. Tech. He had several football players in his classes and says they couldn’t even speak properly, much less do the course work.

Mike

October 5th, 2012
9:08 am

“Oddly the biggest defenders of affirmative action, which as practiced is a form of race discrimination, are those most vocally opposed to racial discrimination.”

AMEN!!!

Old Boy

October 5th, 2012
9:14 am

I had a friend who was very much against affirmative action. He was class VP, had a 4.0, and scored over 1400 (out of 1600) on his SATs. He went to GT on an academic scholarship. Oh yeah, he happened to be black. The reason he said he hated affirmative action is that everyone assumed that the reason he had gotten his spot at GT was because he was black, whereas, with his credentials, he would have gotten in regardless of his skin color. Right or wrong, affirmative action makes people question those from minority backgrounds because they are held to a different standard, whether they should be or not.

xxx

October 5th, 2012
9:17 am

Affirmative Action- lowering the bar for 40 years.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
9:28 am

Could any of you experts tell me what Affirmative Action in the workplace is? You seem to think it has to do with hiring practices.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
10:02 am

As for acceptance…..I guess it’s up to the individual university.

Is it fair that college baseball player gets accepted to the school over a kid with lesser academic qualifications? I used baseball because unlike football and basketball, the baseball program is really just a money consumer to the school. So you have kid getting into school because he excels at an activity that adds very little to the school neither monitarily nor academically.

Basically if the school desires black kids then they can accept more of them….just like if they desire a good baseball team, they can accept more baseball players.

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
10:16 am

Years ago I was a victim of affirmative action! Now I am a victim of an affirmative action President.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
10:29 am

Here is what Affirmative Action demands.

For a given job within a given geographic region is there a statistically significant difference between the percentage of minorities in the area meeting the legitimate requirements of the job (i.e. education, technical training, etc.) and the percentage of minorities in the position.

If the standard deviation is significant (a Z score of + or -2), then statistically speaking there is something inherently discriminatory in the hiring practices (by the way -2 is discrimination and +2 is reverse discrimination). To say it is discriminatory is not to say it is intentional. For instance, I worked for a company with a very lucrative referral program. The company was made up of mostly white people (not a disproportionate amount given the racial breakdown in the area); so they rolled out this referral program and who do white people know?….other white people. So over time the referrals led to even more whites being hired for entry level positions, and slowly the racial breakdown of the facility became very skewed for the lower level jobs. Nothing intentionally hateful; it just worked out that way.

What does Affirmative Action require in this instance? Or more importantly what DOESN’T it require. It doesn’t require the company to hire more minorities. Instead it requires an Affirmative Action plan. How could the Company ensure that it is getting more minority applicants? This was a rural area, so we instituted a plan of advertising our jobs in traditionally more black accessible areas….their churches helped us and we partnered with some minority based job boards. The government didn’t demand we hire more minorities, they just asked that we create a plan that gave minorities the same access to our job openings that was given to whites.

Is this wrong? It’s about a fair applicant pool. No one should ever be telling a manager not to hire the best applicant.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
10:38 am

By the way, all of that aside “fair” is an unbelievably childish concept.

RCB

October 5th, 2012
10:47 am

To see how well affirmative action works, follow the incoming classes for dropout and graduation rates in 4-5 years. You can get admitted through any number of “preferences”, but if you can’t do the work, what good is it? The word diversity is subjective and should not be the end all, be all.

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
10:48 am

“To say it is discriminatory is not to say it is intentional. ”

That is a lie!!!

Grob Hahn

October 5th, 2012
10:49 am

The term “deserve” is way overused in America. I’m particularly amused with commercials that say “get the credit you deserve” and such. The only people we should be using government money to educate in college are the ones who have the best chance of passing. Too many are admitted for these stupid “feel good” social reasons and don’t last much more than a year. Why? Because it’s too freakin hard for them because they were put into a seat they didn’t properly earn. Making it a black/white issue was pure politics and didn’t advance our nation at all.
Grobbbbbbbbbbb

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
10:49 am

“It doesn’t require the company to hire more minorities.”
That is a lie!!!

BuckeyeInGa

October 5th, 2012
10:49 am

Race is just one of many factors — including leadership potential, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, work experience, community service and other special circumstances — that the university considers along with a student’s academic record and personal essays to assign a score that determines admissions under the holistic admissions process established in 2005. Race is not an automatic or predominant factor at any point in the admissions process. Further, applicants of any race may benefit from the use of race in the holistic admissions system, which considers an applicant’s race in the context of his or her entire file.–UT

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
10:50 am

“The government didn’t demand we hire more minorities,”

That is a lie!!!

David Granger

October 5th, 2012
10:58 am

Maureen, I would certainly love to see all legacy and “rich family” admissions eliminated at colleges and universities. But the one thing you have to admit about that practice is that it is not limited by race, gender, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin. “Affirmative Action” admissions are the only kinds of admissions that discriminate…no matter how much the Supreme Court may pretend otherwise…based on the things that the Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination based on.

William Casey

October 5th, 2012
11:04 am

@williebkind: you are a victim… of the unkind laws of genetics. And, that is NOT a lie.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
11:06 am

@williebkind, you seem very educated on the subject. I mean….I’ve just spent several years calculating and implementing Affirmative Action plans with employment attorneys…I guess we could be wrong.

Prof

October 5th, 2012
11:07 am

Just to stay with Affirmative Action in the academic setting…

There is another significant argument in favor of Affirmative Action practiced in college admissions that was accepted by the original Supreme Court in its ruling that favored Affirmative Action: the educational benefits to the MAJORITY students. Exposure to minority students improves the majority students’ critical thinking because it is a different perspective with different experiences. The majority student also learns to question assumptions about other people. Black and Hispanic people see things differently from white people, and it is valuable in a classroom to include all perspectives. As a University Professor, I have always preferred teaching classes with racial/ethnic variety for that reason.

As to the claim that middle/upper class black people aren’t really any different from such white people, I don’t believe that is true. Many of my professional colleagues and friends are black (I am white), and they all certainly have negative racial stories to tell. They too experience what they call the “micro-aggressions” of daily life, just as do the lower middle and working class members of their minority.

The original Supreme Court ruled that Affirmative Action contributed positively to the education of the majority student, and should be continued. The educational benefits were not solely to the minority students.

AlreadySheared

October 5th, 2012
11:23 am

I would love to see Texas’ “Top 10%” rule implemented here in Georgia. There are many low-performing rural and urban school systems who send essentially NO ONE to our flagship universities.

I refuse to believe that the communities those school systems serve are devoid of students who cannot benefit from an education at our flagship institutions – as a state we cannot afford to neglect our best & brightest just because their parents sent them to lousy schools.

RCB

October 5th, 2012
11:55 am

Maybe students from those rural communities prefer to stay closer to home or choose a 2-yr college first. I find it hard to believe that NO ONE qualifies from those districts, especially when so many admitted students fail to complete one year. We all know about lousy schools, but I don’t think the blame lies there alone.

Atlanta Mom

October 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

“At the University of Tennessee, the average income of the families of students is more than $100,000 a year.”
I sure would like to know what that number is for UGA.

Atlanta Mom

October 5th, 2012
12:14 pm

Let us again remember, the SAT says as much about your income as it does your ability to succeed in college.
Why should children, who perform poorly on the SAT, be denied entrance to the flagship school, because they are poor?

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
12:16 pm

@Atlanta Mom, that’s a pretty normal number I would imagine. Children of college graduates are 50% more likely to attend college than children of those that didn’t finish college.

In itself, that would lend itself to college students being from better earners…..on average.

Hmmmm.....

October 5th, 2012
12:37 pm

To the person who asked where Affirmative Action is being used in hiring…. ever applied for a job with the federal government? Your application is given a score, and only the highest scoring people will be invited for an interview. You get extra points if you are disabled, a veteran (veterans DESERVE extra points in my opinion), or you belong to some protected minority group. Even though I am highly qualified, I will probably never land a federal job, because as a white able-bodied non-veteran female, other people will always have a higher score than mine, due to Affirmative Action in hiring.

Eddie G

October 5th, 2012
12:52 pm

It’s funny to read the comments from those that obviously live in Metro Atlanta, and look down their noses at “rural” school systems. Just because you live in that thar “big city” doesn’t make you a smarter person, not does it guarantee you that your education will be better.

Back to the topic first discussed…………….affirmative action is pile of crap. Thee end.

Sparta_Bubba

October 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

What about the affirmative action programs that allowed a C average student, George W. Bush, to attend Yale? Rich white people have, and still do, benefit from the institutional racism of our country. Get over your privileged whiney selves. If you want to be fair, outlaw white priviledge first.

Voice of Reason

October 5th, 2012
1:18 pm

Well said @Grob Hahn October 5th, 2012 10:49 am

“The term “deserve” is way overused in America. I’m particularly amused with commercials that say “get the credit you deserve” and such. The only people we should be using government money to educate in college are the ones who have the best chance of passing. Too many are admitted for these stupid “feel good” social reasons and don’t last much more than a year. Why? Because it’s too freakin hard for them because they were put into a seat they didn’t properly earn. Making it a black/white issue was pure politics and didn’t advance our nation at all.”

masr

October 5th, 2012
1:22 pm

@james October 5th, 2012 8:16 am nailed it!

“Gaining admission to a college should be about the
students grades, test scores, outside activities, etc
The color of your skin should make no difference– in fact
it should even be on application.

Trust me being an alumni of UGA isn’t going to get my kid
in anymore. Those days went away back in the late 70’s.

What will get her in is hard work, taking AP courses and showing
that she can do college level work. I have many UGA friends whose
kids didn’t work hard enough or don’t have the test scores who didn’t
or will not get into UGA or Tech. The parents will have to pay out of
state so their kid can experience big college life such as at Auburn,
Ole Miss,Bama and others school who love the Georgia HS kids and their
$$.

Life isn’t fair so get over it… Work hard and you will be
successful…”

RCB

October 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

Atlanta Mom, the SAT score is only one of many deciding factors. If you score poorly on the SAT, then your application should be full of other criteria to get you admitted if you deserve to be. Although I probably could have afforded SAT prep courses if I cut somewhere else, we didn’t offer those to our children. We bought them a book and told them to study and practice. They worked for months before the test on a daily basis and they did just fine. A little hard work goes a long way, rich or poor.

Halftrack

October 5th, 2012
1:44 pm

Affirmative Action is government sponsored discrimination. Discrimination today is different than it was in the 1950’s and 60″s. Since that time black & white have basically have had equal opportunity to fail. Only southern states are penalized by affirmative action as the northern states get a free ride for their past discriminations because of race. Why did the North not have any busing to equalize their schools or business factories, etc.? Most students now are near an equal state of preparedness for college. Affirmative Action should be better based. A college should have a number of students it will accept and if a diversity is shot for; then this number should be posted and made transparent for all applicants to know ahead of applying.

jarvis

October 5th, 2012
1:53 pm

@Halftrack, I’ve also wondered why a public school doesn’t have to post acceptance criteria publically.

Maude

October 5th, 2012
2:12 pm

Applicants should not be asked to provide their race on the applications. The only thing they should have to prove is that they are a legal citizen of the United States. Their grades should be the only thing that is looked at. The legal citizens with the highest scores should be allow to attend.

Just A Teacher

October 5th, 2012
2:19 pm

I don’t believe in Affirmative Action in any way, shape, or form. I believe it is racial discrimination. I teach in a predominately African American high school and teach my students that they are individuals. To define a person’s worth or ability based on the color of his / her skin is simply wrong. In my world (and my class), people are evaluated on their merit and nothing else. Universities should be the same way. Lest we forget, Affirmative Action also gives women an unfair advantage over men based on past inequality. I am opposed to that, as well. There was probably a time for these preferential policies in education and employment, but that time is long gone.

BuckeyeInGa

October 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

Doesn’t affirmative action benefit white women as well?

BuckeyeInGa

October 5th, 2012
2:33 pm

Executive Order 11246

EEO and Affirmative Action Guidelines for Federal Contractors Regarding Race, Color, Gender, Religion, and National Origin

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
2:58 pm

Just A Teacher

October 5th, 2012
2:19 pm

That is where I stand.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:02 pm

so when does affirmative action hit the sports programs?

x amount of white kids, yellow kids, and handicapped kids per team

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
3:04 pm

BuckeyeInGa

October 5th, 2012
2:33 pm
That is for federal contractors. Those are employers who are doing business with federal dollars in the pot. However, affirmative action laws affect the small business owners through means of lawsuits and watchdogs.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:06 pm

something I am curious about: when will enough be enough?

we have the most fully integrated society ever, and yet that’s still not enough.
when, if ever, are we gonna allow/require people to stand on their own merits?

supposedly around 2050, white people will be a plurality, but not the majority in this nation.
if true, will affirmative action focus on making sure white folks get their “fair share”?
somehow I doubt it.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:08 pm

something I’ve noticed since I was laid off.

almost every application I fill out wants to know – very early on -if I am hispanic or “other”.

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
3:09 pm

“they gravitate out of competitive fields such as pre-med and engineering”

Yepper give me heart surgery with a heart designed by affirmative action doctors and engineers. I will live forever because right is on my side.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:10 pm

its been interesting to see Romey’s 47% theory played out in real life on this blog.

williebkind

October 5th, 2012
3:11 pm

“almost every application I fill out wants to know – very early on -if I am hispanic or “other”.”

I love those jobs that require an American citizen to speak spanish. Why dont the jobs require the spanish to speak English?

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:15 pm

that would be insensitive

Just Sayin.....

October 5th, 2012
3:17 pm

Doesn’t affirmative action benefit white women as well?

Affirmative action benefits everyone except white males. Amazingly, white males are not even a majority anymore (women outnumber men in college), but are still the boogeyman that allow racial discrimination ( affirmative action) to continue to exist.

Let me be clear: Men are now a MINORITY in college, but discrimination against men is still allowed. Women, who are the majority, still get a minority label due to past discrimination.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
3:18 pm

when is the last time anyone saw an application encouraging white men to apply?

Digger

October 5th, 2012
3:22 pm

We now discriminate against intelligence. It’s one reason this country is spinning round and round in the toilet.

Solutions

October 5th, 2012
3:31 pm

The word “divesity” does not appear even one time in the entire Constitution of the United States, yet the entire higher educational establishment is being sacrificed upon this so call alter of diversity. When you can no longer rely on Harvard Law School to produce graduates with IQ’s of 130 or higher, you know the college sorting machine is breaking down. Compare the performance of Mitt Romney (he has an earned degree from Harvard and an IQ of 140+) vs the performance of B. Obama (he has a “special” degree from Harvard and a computed IQ of 110) in the recent debates. One performed as a well educated professional, the other as an average IQ wanna be. We can forget the college degree as an indicator of intelligence and ability to perform, and it is all because of this fake concept called “diversity.” You want mickey mouse college degrees, now you have them, and they are worthless.

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
3:46 pm

@halftrack,

Do you just invent history? Northern states have had bussing and affirmative action programs. Please keep your ignorant assertions to yourself so that you don’t spread your lack of education.

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
3:48 pm

@Just sayin,

Based on your statement, can you explain why women, on average, are paid a lower wage for the same work? Is this the minority of men being oppressed with the burden of money and power?

Grumps

October 5th, 2012
3:49 pm

UGA and Tech are both pretty selective. However, Georgia Perimeter (formerly Dekalb College) has a guaranteed transfer program — Guaranteed! — to any school in the Georgia University system, Including Tech and UGA. Other schools outside the state include Auburn and Alabama. There are 47 schools — I think.

You get the grades, you take the Georgia core curriculum, you get in after 60 or so hours. With that program and the HOPE scholarship, nobody has to do without a top notch education if they are capable and if they do the work.

See http://depts.gpc.edu/tag/

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
3:56 pm

Have any of you read in of the briefs in many of the recent affirmative action cases? The argument for a diverse academic community is not for fairness or to make up for past wrongs. It’s to create a better learning community. As much as many of you would like to deny it, we live in a diverse world. If we go by the belief, as flawed as it might be, that college should prepare people for “the real world,” then we need a diverse environment to study in. Have you ever watched a group of white students discuss the implications of the word”nigger” in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or a group of boys discuss The Bell Jar? It doesn’t work. Our race, our religion, our sex, and our socioeconomic conditions are part of who we are, and a part of the people around. We need this diversity on a college campus to create educated students, and thus a capable workforce. Do not lose track of the purpose of affirmative action in thinly veiled racist and sexist attacks from people with a chip on their shoulders. Our university deserve better than that.

Grumps

October 5th, 2012
4:01 pm

@Teacher 3:48

The latest studies I saw regarding women in the workforce concluded tangible factors – women as a group tend to take years out of their careers for childraising, for example — accounted for much of the gap.

And don’t go typecasting me. I’m not a conservative and I’m not a liberal. I’d be a libertarian, but they have too many rules.

I know and respect many very successful women attorneys, doctors, business executives — hell, my current boss is a woman and is probably the best manager I’ve worked for in 40 years. All of them are smart as hell and work their butts off.. just like the successful men I know.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
4:10 pm

@ teacher

can you provide links to current studies which support your claims about unequal wages?
especially dealing with the wages of women under 40. I’ll grant some older women may well have
lower wages since they entered the workforce at a very different time.

bootney farnsworth

October 5th, 2012
4:14 pm

it would be interesting to study the list of 282 at GPC who were laid off, to see if those cuts were “proportional” to race and gender.

Just Sayin.....

October 5th, 2012
4:21 pm

@Teacher

My comments were with regard to THIS topic: affirmative action in college. If you dispute my statement, show some facts that women are outnumbered by men in college. I won’t play your nonsensical game of changing the topic to employment when I wrote on higher education. The two are apples and oranges. THIS column deals with education. Your attempt to change the subject shows that you know you are in the wrong. Let me be clear: white men are a college MINORITY. Maybe not a minority as defined by Affirmative Action programs, but a minority in actual, real numbers. If you dispute this, show some facts. But don’t try to change the subject in an attempt to divert attention from the facts.

hryder

October 5th, 2012
4:35 pm

W Bush earned a higher GPA at Yale than J Kerry and Obama was a racial diversity transfer into the Ivy League yet both went on to become President. Neither should have been in their alma maters except for blatant preferences that had nothing directly attributable to academic success. How did this occur? The Ivies are private institutions. No state supported institution in the USA should legally be permitted to discriminate in such a fashion. Additionally, no athlete or any other special skill applicant should receive admission to a college/university unless they meet the identical academic criteria required of all other entering students. The truth is that it is your effort following your departure from the collegiate life which will determine your perceived success or failure by others as well as yourself.

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
6:28 pm

@hryder

I agree that public institutions shouldn’t discriminate. Since the number one predictor for the SAT and AP exams is socioeconomic status, isn’t using these scores as a gauge for admission discriminating against those living in poverty? Doesn’t this make UT’s 10 percent rule a perfect way to decide admission?

Another comment

October 5th, 2012
7:01 pm

Since, I and all the cousins on my mother’s family come from a first generation immigrant family, we were the first generation to attend and graduate from college. Several of us have gone on to do very well. One of my cousin’s is a very well off Dr. in North Carolina, but due to our family having gone to Catholic School for Elementary School, then to the Public High School. He went to Allegany College in Penn. for Undergraduate, then Med. School at Univ. of Rochester in New York. Did a Residency in Boston. Ended up in Spartenburg at a Hospital, then up in Ashville, then up in the N.C. Mountains and is now in Winston Salem.

His own son went to Wake Forrest. But could not get the Alumni Advantage into the Wake Forrest Medical School, Duke or Numerious other Medical Schools in the South he applied to. Even though my cousin makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a years, and would pay full freight tuition in cash. His son had to take a year off and do a Masters of Public Health at Georgetown. Do a Volunteer Stint in Africa with Doctors without Border’s assisting for several months. He finally was accepted into Wake Forrest’s Medical School starting this past September. It is a real shame, because my family has no Southern School routes. His father a Doctor, didn’t go to any of these Private name schools. But then his father is a doctor, he is not a minority, so that all works against him. At least my cousin like me had the first in family to get a degree help. My daughter will use her Native American blood from her father to help her. You should see the information she gets from the minority offices being Native America ( Thank you Ancestor Green for your native American wife up in Western Carolina).

Lee

October 5th, 2012
8:42 pm

A commentary about Patrick Chavis, the black student who was admitted into medical school ahead of a more academically qualified white student. Whatever happened to the “poster child of affirmative action” you ask. Well, “In 1997, the Medical Board of California suspended Chavis’ license, warning of his “inability to perform some of the most basic duties required of a physician.”" Of course, that was after someone died due to his gross negligence.

http://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2002/08/07/the_life_and_death_of_patrick_chavis

Statistically speaking, 50% of the doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class. With affirmative action, you really have to wonder how bad that bottom half really is.

If I’m laying on a table with someone’s hands in my chest, I think I would prefer that doctor to be in the top of his class, not some affirmative action token who doesn’t know the difference between a suture and a suppository.

SEE

October 5th, 2012
8:42 pm

A recent study showed that white students from poor backgrounds are actually disadvantaged when it comes to admissions. Colleges like give preference to black or hispanic students from poor backgrounds…so they can check off both a race and low socio-economic status in their “diversity” quotas.

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2010/07/how_diversity_punishes_asians.html

RCB

October 5th, 2012
9:52 pm

I don’t think poor SAT scores have anything to do with being poor or disadvantaged. Your socioeconomic status probably dictates how seriously you study or how hard you work. YOU can change that, no one else. There are many smaller colleges in Georgia that offer an excellent education and may not be as difficult to get into as GA and Tech–at least for 2 years.

Teacher

October 5th, 2012
11:02 pm

@RCB You dont have to “think” anything. Apparently you dont “think” much. Socioeconomic condition IS the number one predictor of SAT success. This isn’t even an arguable topic.

SEE

October 6th, 2012
8:09 am

Then why do Asians, as a group, perform very well on the SAT regardless of their socio-economic status? It’s a fact that can be checked. Asians great academic performance actually works against them for admissions. If you are Asian, you will need to perform better than blacks or whites to get into the university of your choice. Colleges run after that “diversity” quota which requires they turn away many more deserving Asians because they don’t want an “over-representation of that group. If we are a global economy, then we better start thinking globally! Japan, South Korea, China, etc. all recruit their brightest from whereever they come from, without thought to socio-economic or minority status. Will the US be prepared to compete?

bu2

October 6th, 2012
9:02 am

@Teacher
Not saying you are wrong, but do you have any links supporting your assertion? If you are going to say its not arguable, you should be able to explain that belief. And if you are correct, there’s still the question of how significant an indicator it is.

RCB

October 6th, 2012
11:42 am

@Teacher–getting personal, are we? Just because you say it is so does not make it true. You may BELIEVE what you’re saying, but it just sounds like another excuse for someone not doing the hard work required. What an insult to insinuate that poor students can’t achieve through hard work. It’s not a label you have to carry your entire life. You can keep making excuses though if you want to.

Lee

October 6th, 2012
12:00 pm

“Socioeconomic condition IS the number one predictor of SAT success. This isn’t even an arguable topic.

Yes, there is a strong correlation between poverty and poor performance on the SAT. But it is not the CAUSE of poor performance. Big difference.

There are plenty of anecdotal stories about poor kids who overcome all obstacles to score high on the SAT, attend college, and achieve great things. Conversely, there are plenty of anecdotal stories of rich kids who fall flat on their face.

But, I cannot think of a single story about a kid with an IQ of 80 who aced the SAT and went on to become a doctor or scientist or engineer, etc.

Let’s face it, the folks who are living in Section 8 housing, filling our prisons, and drawing welfare checks are not Mensa Members.

As to the SAT/ACT, these are little more than glorified IQ exams and the statistically valid results of which will always follow the IQ hierarchy – Asian/White/Hispanic/Black.

And yes, y’all can argue about that all day, but it doesn’t change the reality.

Ole Guy

October 6th, 2012
2:21 pm

Yestidy, I cudent speil colij stoodint…today, I are wun…

RCB

October 6th, 2012
2:58 pm

I also believe as Lee does that the SAT is little more than a glorified IQ exam. To me, the ACT is a little different, according to my 2 kids. They didn’t even have the ACT when I was in school. It was the SAT or nothing. I know a lot of kids who have aced an SAT, but can’t/won’t succeed in the real world. If you work hard, you WILL succeed.

catlady

October 6th, 2012
3:47 pm

RCB, how old are you? The ACT was in place way before 1970. I took it in 1969. It is a SKILL test, not an IQ test, or even an aptitude test. It looks at skills you have mastered that should lead to success in college.

Many folks had not heard of it, for various reasons. I was looking at some schools that wanted the ACT, and my verbal/reading skills were a little stronger than math, so I took it. Turns out, my ACt/SAT were pretty equal. (32/1300 on 1600 range) Here in Georgia, most schools wanted the SAT.

For my older two children, with similiar skills, the ACT was the better measure. For my highly quantitative daughter, the SAT, with 1/2 being math, made better sense.

RCB

October 6th, 2012
8:22 pm

Catlady, I’m in my early 60’s. I went to a VERY rural high school (class of 105), so if the ACT was available, we had never heard of it. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know anything about the SAT when I took it in the 60’s. My elder daughter told me she felt like she did better on the ACT because It tested more of what she had already learned, which made sense to me. Both of my kids took the SAT and ACT and did better in the latter for some reason. The colleges they attended, however, required the SAT. I know–I’m old compared to most of you. Ha, ha!

OTOH

October 6th, 2012
11:29 pm

“Yet people are outraged when we consider exceptions for students who legitimately did not have access to the same education as those who grew up in middle class suburbs.” Herein lies the rub. While wanting to give these disadvantaged students a leg up, the proponents of this argument forget their own evidence. These children did not receive the education that would prepare them for the schools the proponents want them to attend. What good does that do for those students? Admitting them does not prepare them and it does not give them a good chance of succeeding no matter how much we want it to.

OTOH

October 6th, 2012
11:52 pm

I do not know Abigail Fisher’s qualifications for college, but I do know that the top 10 % of one school can be vastly different than that of another. Remember that one of the arguments for AA is that the disadvantaged students did not receive as good an education as did the students they are competing with. 10% of my HS class was 3.9 students. 5 graduated with 5.0 grade point averages. Should that 5th classmate of mine have a harder time getting admitted to a state school than the student ranked 49th out of 500 at Disadvantaged County High where no one made a 5.0?

bu2

October 7th, 2012
12:59 pm

The 10% rule is not being challenged.

The issue is using race as a factor for those who do not get in otherwise.

YALLOweMe

October 8th, 2012
9:59 am

IQ, IQ, IQ… Whether you want to believe it or not. People of different genetic compositions have different IQ power. Yes, there are some exceptions, and that’s where we need to ensure against discrimination. Other than that, race should NOT be a factor in college admissions.