Originally Posted by FLMountainMan
I know racial preferences benefit whites and Asians in law school. This is pretty well documented. The average black student is ranked in the 18% percentile because they used racial preferences to get into a law school that they really don't have the intellect/work ethic to succeed at. (God knows, if Harvard somehow gave a preference to stuttering kids and accepted me, I'd have flunked out, even with my very high LSAT score. My work ethic just isn't there - 2.8 GPA).
So, the black kids get into the law school they are unqualified for and then have to compete against overqualified whites and Asians. And unlike undergrad, the "in over my head" students (regardless of race) can't transfer to a joke major like criminology or gender studies (which has been shown to be a repeated pattern in undergrad). Law school is law school. And someone has to get that D or F. So, the whites and Asians get bumped up in the class rankings, while the black kids struggle. And everyone receives the tremendous benefits of being in a diverse classroom.
But I'm not really worried about a public undergrad university choosing to give preferences to kids based on their ethnic background. It's morally indefensible, but if America is going to keep investing in this myth that everyone should go to college, we should try to make the public college system reflect the public school system.
That, and it sounds like this woman's case is pretty lousy.(Is that what you wanted, Eric?)
Not sure I wanted anything in particular--other than to stir up the pot and liven CE up a bit. From my own limited experiences at my current institution, I think it's absolutely true that there's a tension between wanting to enroll minority students from poorer families and keeping up high academic standards. (One way a predominantly racial view of representation/diversity skews things: I'm not sure about the actual numbers, but I know that a lot of the minority students at my school are actually international students whose families can afford the full tuition.)
Re: the "morally indefensible" part as well as ataturk's remark about "racial gerrymandering," there are obviously two related but separate factors at play.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One is whether or not your sense of fairness takes into consideration why there's still such a strong correlation between race, family income, and educational preparation in the U.S. We've already started bandying about comparisons between African-American and Asian-American students: we have one population that has been largely enslaved and then poor for generations and only even offered equal educational opportunities for the last two generations or so, and we have another population that largely (not exclusively, of course) immigrated here under a controlled system. Yes, lots of Asians came here to perform low-paying jobs, etc., but policies also fostered and promoted the immigration of people and families with a good deal of education in their home countries. Personally, I'm fine (even with lots of reservations about specific policies and strategies) with "gerrymandering" our current student population as a way of acknowledging why we're in the mess we're in and as a way of trying to do something about it.
But this raises the second question: whether the best way to promote economic/educational equality across ethnic groups is this kind of tinkering. My own (slightly polemical) take is that labeling preferential admissions as "morally indefensible" actually takes a response to this second question and then applies it to the first. That is, I oppose the claim that, given the country's history and our present-day landscape, it's simply fair and ethical to claim that all applications, regardless or race (and family income!), should merely be treated equally. I do think it's totally valid to question, repeatedly, whether the systems we have in place are actually helping the situation. In fact, I'd be much happier with a claim that we should uphold equality among groups as a fantasy/fiction that we aspire toward. I might not really agree with this--I'd have to be convinced that the best way to bring about demographic change at the macro-level is to uphold a fiction of equality at the personal--but at least it would be more honest, in my view.
tl;dr: if the Western-liberal view of equality among individuals is the goal we're working toward (I'm have reservations, but I admit it's a very tempting goal), I'm not convinced we can merely say we live in that kind of world when we clearly don't for all sorts of familiar historical reasons, and I'm not necessarily convinced that pretending we do is the best way to bring about this goal.