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Old 05-16-2015, 01:34 PM
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Asian American groups accuse Harvard of racial bias in admissions


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2...ions/27438565/
A coalition of Asian American groups filed a federal complaint against Harvard University Friday alleging the school engaged in "systemic and continuous discrimination" against Asian Americans during its admissions process.
...
Robert Iuliano, Harvard University General Counsel, said in a statement that the university uses a "holistic admissions process" that is "fully compliant with federal law" to build a diverse class.
...
"Neither of us believes that any racial or ethnic group should be subjected to quotas," commissioners Michael Yaki and Karen Narasaki said. "Nor do we believe that test scores alone entitle anyone to admission at Harvard. Students are more than their test scores and grades."
(Disclaimer: I only think this applies to Harvard inasmuch as it gets government funds. If it doesn't get such funds or is willing to forego them, it can apply whatever criteria, however biased, to admissions)

I fully support the plaintiffs in this case. No, "test scores alone" do not entitle anyone to admissions at Harvard. But admissions have to be based on objective and non-racial criteria. Test scores are objective. If you can find other objective criteria, apply them. "Holistic process" and "diversity" are inherently subjective and as such should not be part of the criteria.

Last edited by Terr; 05-16-2015 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:43 PM
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The article is rather thin on what evidence the plaintiffs have. In fact, there is no information at all about why they believe they are being discriminated against. Without seeing that evidence, I can't say one or the other whether they are right or not.
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:49 PM
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If diversity were not a concern, far fewer young men would be admitted to competitive colleges and universities. Young women outshine young men according to the usual objective criteria.

Affirmative Action for Men
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Old 05-16-2015, 01:52 PM
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If diversity were not a concern, far fewer young men would be admitted to competitive colleges and universities.
Maybe young men would have to study a bit harder.
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Old 05-16-2015, 02:33 PM
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This one is making the rounds in academia right now, and it is humorous to me. This is not the first time this been done - there were Asian rights groups arguing for score only admissions back in the 80s as well.

Holistic admissions allows a school to give points for a variety of factors.

GPA is a challenge, as each high school is different.
SAT scores can work to test your ability to excel on a standardized exam.
Writing ability in the submitted essays are tough to evaluate, given the ease of access to editors or outright hiring of someone to write for you.

Then you get to the extra-curricular and activities listings. My son was allowed to list 12 different groups, his associated awards, and his role in each one for admission. This is part of the holistic process as well.

So does this particular Asian American group wants to eliminate "holistic" admissions that take into account more than just board scores and GPA?, or do they want to instead ensure that they are not being artificially limited? Which groups will "lose?"

Non-Hispanic Whites?
African Americans?
Hispanics?
Native Americans?

This will be a fun fight to watch from the sidelines.
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:18 PM
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Which groups will "lose?"
After California eliminated affirmative action in public university admissions in the 1990s, everybody won. The number of black and Hispanic students accepted to Berkeley and UCLA went down, but the number graduating stayed the same. In other words, former AA-benefitting students were correctly steered to the university they could handle and emerged with degrees instead of wasted time and debt, and no one of any race who was real material for the top tier was excluded.
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:23 PM
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The thing about admissions is that universities are not in the business of handing out cookies to people hwo work hard. Universities are in the business of becoming better universities- and that means they want the ability to craft strong classes. And some level of diversity-- not just racial diversity, but diversity in perspective, talents, experiences and approaches-- is fundamental to putting together a strong group of people who can really challenge each other and bring out each other's talents.

So universities really want to keep their ability to craft their classes, just like hiring managers are always going to want to be able to personally pick their teams rather than just being assigned people who scored highested on a random test. It's not just about achievement-- it's about developing a group that can rise toe xcellence together.

A university like Harvard is in an extra bind, because they are not choosing the best from a range of people. They are looking at 50 people with 4.5s, full extracurriculars, and perfect SATs, all looking at one spot. SO Harvard really does look for anything that can take a person beyond "perfect" and in to "interesting."

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that this problem will never be solved as long as the quality of our K-12 system varies so wildly.
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:31 PM
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It's a false dichotomy. Harvard has an "Asian quota" now just like they had a "Jewish quota" in the 30s, and they are awarding and deducting points on an application based on race. There are means to "craft a diverse class" without naked racism.
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:43 PM
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It is not in a university's best interest to only accept valedictorians and National Merit scholars. Professors don't enjoy teaching students who expect to get A+ on every assignment, on every test. Universities don't want students who will fling themselves out of a six-story window if they fail a pop quiz or get rejected from a competitive internship program. They need students who aren't so concerned about academics that they never leave the library to venture into the expensive athletic center. Someone's gotta use the rock climbing wall or go bowling at 2:00 AM. Every leader needs a bunch of people who don't mind being followers.

That said, racial discrimination doesn't make me feel good. We can't sincerely teach kids that working hard K-12 is important, and then turn around and reward the kids who were more skeptical of this advice.
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:47 PM
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It is not in a university's best interest to only accept valedictorians and National Merit scholars. Professors don't enjoy teaching students who expect to get A+ on every assignment, on every test. Universities don't want students who will fling themselves out of a six-story window if they fail a pop quiz or get rejected from a competitive internship program. They need students who aren't so concerned about academics that they never leave the library to venture into the expensive athletic center. Someone's gotta use the rock climbing wall or go bowling at 2:00 AM. Every leader needs a bunch of people who don't mind being followers.
This isn't the issue with Harvard -- everyone they accept is this person, and the methods they use to choose which of them to accept are the problem.

I agree that the current approach to standardized testing and GPAs is flawed, and extracurriculars and leadership are essentially nothing but an additional test/tax on applicants, robotically checking off the list of what "Harvard wants this year." The answer to the problem isn't racial quotas, though. How could it be?
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Old 05-16-2015, 03:57 PM
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Maybe young men would have to study a bit harder.
They should indeed. The point is, less qualified boys are admitted over more qualified girls, in spite of their not having studied harder. Those who object to "diversity" in college admissions rarely take one of the biggest forms of affirmative action into account. Boys.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:08 PM
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Subjectivity is fine. Make it race neutral. This should be easy to do if they wanted to - assign each person a number and obfuscate their name and don't allow collection of racial or gender data.

I assume they don't do this because they want to use race and gender as a criteria. I wonder if folks would be so sanguine about this if it were a different minority group being impacted.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:14 PM
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They should indeed. The point is, less qualified boys are admitted over more qualified girls, in spite of their not having studied harder. Those who object to "diversity" in college admissions rarely take one of the biggest forms of affirmative action into account. Boys.
I have no problem with eliminating that kind of affirmative action either.

Hey - how about this: you can keep your "holistic process". But - people judging and deciding which applicants to accept and which to reject do not get to know their name, gender, race or ethnicity. Those are eliminated from the application, all that is stored separately, indexed by the application number. Once the application is accepted, then that is dug out and attached to the application.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:32 PM
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They should indeed. The point is, less qualified boys are admitted over more qualified girls, in spite of their not having studied harder. Those who object to "diversity" in college admissions rarely take one of the biggest forms of affirmative action into account. Boys.
The article linked to concerned Kenyon, a liberal arts school.

Is that also true at schools like Harvard with concentrations in STEM fields?
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:55 PM
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The article is rather thin on what evidence the plaintiffs have. In fact, there is no information at all about why they believe they are being discriminated against.
Well it is USA Today, after all. What do you expect?

The evidence that Ivy League schools discriminate against Asian American applicants has been talked about quite a bit by many people for years. Here's a good summary:

http://priceonomics.com/post/4879428...against-asians
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Old 05-16-2015, 05:44 PM
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The thing about admissions is that universities are not in the business of handing out cookies to people hwo work hard. Universities are in the business of becoming better universities- and that means they want the ability to craft strong classes. And some level of diversity-- not just racial diversity, but diversity in perspective, talents, experiences and approaches-- is fundamental to putting together a strong group of people who can really challenge each other and bring out each other's talents.

So universities really want to keep their ability to craft their classes, just like hiring managers are always going to want to be able to personally pick their teams rather than just being assigned people who scored highested on a random test. It's not just about achievement-- it's about developing a group that can rise toe xcellence together.

A university like Harvard is in an extra bind, because they are not choosing the best from a range of people. They are looking at 50 people with 4.5s, full extracurriculars, and perfect SATs, all looking at one spot. SO Harvard really does look for anything that can take a person beyond "perfect" and in to "interesting."

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that this problem will never be solved as long as the quality of our K-12 system varies so wildly.
The trouble is that it's hard to imagine that a university will have a better class with less intelligent students. We should accept what affirmative action is: a lower bar for people based on their skin color that innately causes discrimination on campus as people notice that minorities are lower quality students that white and asian students.

For what it's worth, the claim that racial discrimination results in ideological diversity is absurdly suspect. It 1) assumes that people think similarly on the basis of skin color, 2) ignores the fact that it is easy to screen for ideological diversity directly without using race, and 3) empirically doesn't work, since universities are still hotbeds of progressivism.

I mean, liberals are always trying to claim that race is a social construct and isn't a meaningful concept when discussing group differences in ability. I'm not sure how it can be intellectually consistent to turn around and claim that its a useful criterion for college admissions.

Moreover, racial discrimination presupposes that diversity of thought is beneficial. For undergraduates in some majors who may never do research, the diversity of thought of their fellow students would have essentially no bearing on the quality of education. I challenge anyone who supports AA to show me how a math major benefits from having people of different life perspectives on campus, or else to come up with the list of majors where affirmative action does improve results.

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Old 05-16-2015, 05:54 PM
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I mean, liberals are always trying to claim that race is a social construct and isn't a meaningful concept when discussing group differences in ability. I'm not sure how it can be intellectually consistent to turn around and claim that its a useful criterion for college admissions.
I'm not in favor of race-based acceptance processes, but you misunderstand what it means when we say "race is a social construct". Social constructs can be very real, and can tell us something about the life experiences of people. As a white person, I am never going to be able to personally experience what it's like to be a black person in the US. Or an Asian person. Race is not a useful biological concept, but it is a very useful sociological concept, especially in a country like the US with a long history or racial intolerance.
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Old 05-16-2015, 05:55 PM
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Frankly, I've been hearing the "diversity as a positive value" argument for racism in admissions since the original affirmative action referendum in 1996. It's a nonstarter for any number of reasons, the main ones being that there is no "pragmatic justification" possible for racism, and that any sort of actual diversity of opinions seems frightening to many academic departments these days.
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:04 PM
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Hey - how about this: you can keep your "holistic process". But - people judging and deciding which applicants to accept and which to reject do not get to know their name, gender, race or ethnicity. Those are eliminated from the application, all that is stored separately, indexed by the application number. Once the application is accepted, then that is dug out and attached to the application.
I like this in theory, but I'm not sure how easy it would be in practice to remove all indications and hints of these things from an application. This applicant was an Eagle Scout; this applicant went to high school where the vast majority of the students are Latino; this applicant wrote in his/her application essay about how his/her grandparents came to this country from Korea. (Plus I think what even sven said about "crafting classes" may have some merit.)
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:15 PM
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I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that this problem will never be solved as long as the quality of our K-12 system varies so wildly.
That is exactly the problem. And while I don't think there is a fix, we can do better. States need to distribute funds equitably, and we need to make sure teachers are paid strictly on the basis of merit. Now, distributing funds absolutely equitably is going to drive more of the socially advantaged class to send their kids to private schools, and that is going to offset some of the benefit public schools will get by being funded equally. Still, I don't think we can justify a situation within a state where some schools get more money just because rich people live in that area.

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Old 05-16-2015, 06:49 PM
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I like this in theory, but I'm not sure how easy it would be in practice to remove all indications and hints of these things from an application. This applicant was an Eagle Scout; this applicant went to high school where the vast majority of the students are Latino; this applicant wrote in his/her application essay about how his/her grandparents came to this country from Korea. (Plus I think what even sven said about "crafting classes" may have some merit.)
Ok - we will have to have someone who goes through the application and removes everything that identifies gender, race or ethnicity before its consideration by someone who never sees the original application.

So "am an Eagle Scout" becomes "reached the highest achievement in a national scouting organization". Which high school you graduated from is immaterial. So are grandparents coming from Korea. Remove both from the application.

It can be done, if the goal is that ethnicity or gender should not influence admissions. And the "crafting classes" argument has nothing to do with it. Ethnicity or gender (unless it's one of those "Women's studies" or "African American studies" program) has nothing with "rising to excellence together".

If it is acceptance to one of the abovementioned programs, though, I'd be willing to allow consideration of gender or ethnicity. Knock yourself out.

Last edited by Terr; 05-16-2015 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:08 PM
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If diversity were not a concern, far fewer young men would be admitted to competitive colleges and universities. Young women outshine young men according to the usual objective criteria.

Affirmative Action for Men
Your cite is an opinion piece from 2006 that provides no real data? Seriously?

There are many more men with high math SAT scores than women. The ratio is 1.6:1 in the 700-800 score range, despite 13% more female test takers. There also more men with high critical reading scores. Women only outperform men on the writing portion of the SAT - 1.24:1 overall ratio in the 700-800 range.

http://media.collegeboard.com/digita...Group-2013.pdf
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:09 PM
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Harvard has an "Asian quota" . . . and they are awarding and deducting points on an application based on race.
This may be true.

Do you have any evidence that it is true?
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:10 PM
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Asian American groups accuse Harvard of racial bias in admissions


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Subjectivity is fine. Make it race neutral. This should be easy to do if they wanted to - assign each person a number and obfuscate their name and don't allow collection of racial or gender data.
So the applicant who's won a series of competitive scholarships during high school from the NAACP can't declare them on his/her application?

And the applicant who's put in several years of community service with a Latino, or Vietnamese, or Jewish, or Polish community group, helping elderly or young or immigrant members of that community, can't declare that?

And volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister is off the application as well?
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Last edited by Northern Piper; 05-16-2015 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:13 PM
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That is exactly the problem. And while I don't think there is a fix, we can do better. States need to distribute funds equitably, and we need to make sure teachers are paid strictly on the basis of merit.
"ON the basis of merit" is really easy to type and nearly impossible to implement. And no, not because of teachers' unions, or else states like NC would have systems in place already. It's impossible to implement for a couple of reasons:
1) Developing an objective measure of merit is extraordinarily difficult when you're dealing with a system with as many moving parts as education; and
2) A system that pays individual teachers more or less within a school based on subjective criteria is bound to set teachers in competition with one another, and modern education absolutely depends on tight collaboration among teachers.

You want to fix the educational problems in the US, look to redlining policies, policies that deliberately created ghettos across the country, policies that deliberately forced millions of black families into generational poverty. Figure out how to undo and reverse the damage that these policies created, figure out how to get wealth back into black neighborhoods, figure out how to make a significant black middle class a reality in every city, and the educational problems will take care of themselves.

But putting this on the schools, when the problem originated elsewhere, is pernicious nonsense.

As for Harvard, I'm pretty okay with African American applicants being given special consideration, given all the hurdles the US throws in the way of black students (see above). Asian students whose families were the victims of multigenerational redlining policies can also apply, as can white families with a similar history of victimization by government, but otherwise folks can buck up and recognize that they already got a 10 meter head start in the 100 meter dash.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:19 PM
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So the applicant who's won a series of competitive scholarships during high school from the NAACP can't declare them on his/her application?

And the applicant who's put in several years of community service with a Latino, or Vietnamese, or Jewish, or Polish community group, helping elderly or young or immigrant members of that community, can't declare that?

And volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister is off the application as well?
Go ahead and indicate them on the essay portion or whatnot. The individual evaluating that portion would surely have an idea, but with no way to collect or aggregate this data I think that's an improvement in the least. And while I would expect that the NAACP would only award scholarships to someone who is black, what do the other examples have to do with indicating an applicant's race?
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:20 PM
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So the applicant who's won a series of competitive scholarships during high school from the NAACP can't declare them on his/her application?

And the applicant who's put in several years of community service with a Latino, or Vietnamese, or Jewish, or Polish community group, helping elderly or young or immigrant members of that community, can't declare that?

And volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister is off the application as well?
Yes, yes and yes. But the wording will be changed by application pre-processor to make it gender- and race-neutral.

Is "won a series of competitive scholarships during high school from a national civil liberties organization" worse than "from the NAACP"? Or "several years of community service with a community group, helping community members"?
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:21 PM
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So do you think hiring based on test scores and GPA alone would be a good way to form a team at work?
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:21 PM
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This may be true.

Do you have any evidence that it is true?
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate...ue-asian-quota as well as the elements of the lawsuit itself, etc.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:24 PM
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So do you think hiring based on test scores and GPA alone would be a good way to form a team at work?
No. Prior work experience and performance is a bigger factor. How is "forming a team at work" in any way relevant to "being accepted as a student in a university"?
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:28 PM
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No. Prior work experience and performance is a bigger factor. How is "forming a team at work" in any way relevant to "being accepted as a student in a university"?
You may be missing the point of the analogy. The employer forms a team; the applicant gets hired as an employee. The college/university forms a class of students; the applicant gets accepted as a student.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:29 PM
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Ok - we will have to have someone who goes through the application and removes everything that identifies gender, race or ethnicity before its consideration by someone who never sees the original application.

So "am an Eagle Scout" becomes "reached the highest achievement in a national scouting organization". Which high school you graduated from is immaterial. So are grandparents coming from Korea. Remove both from the application.

It can be done, if the goal is that ethnicity or gender should not influence admissions. And the "crafting classes" argument has nothing to do with it. Ethnicity or gender (unless it's one of those "Women's studies" or "African American studies" program) has nothing with "rising to excellence together".

If it is acceptance to one of the abovementioned programs, though, I'd be willing to allow consideration of gender or ethnicity. Knock yourself out.
I don't think this is even possible or desirable. Some students write their entire essays on the subject of discrimination and other students write about topics that are extremely correlated with race/ethnicity. What would you do in that case–just blank the entire essay? Besides, it seems that the potential for discrimination would simply move to a new level of the admissions process. Biased censors would have the ability to rewrite a candidate's essay to any level of quality and would have access to the applicant's ethnicity. Surely better would be simply making illegal the usage of race in admissions, or else banning it at an administrative level. This has worked well in California (though I'm open to evidence that it hasn't) and surely it could be implemented elsewhere.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:34 PM
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You may be missing the point of the analogy. The employer forms a team; the applicant gets hired as an employee. The college/university forms a class of students; the applicant gets accepted as a student.
A class of students is much less of a "team". There is some cooperation in specialized classes/labs, but most of the time students work on their own (or, if they form teams, those teams are not university-organized) with their instructors to advance their education. The analogy fails because the two situations are not comparable.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:36 PM
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I don't think this is even possible or desirable. Some students write their entire essays on the subject of discrimination and other students write about topics that are extremely correlated with race/ethnicity. What would you do in that case–just blank the entire essay?
Yes, the students will know, before filing an application, that such an essay/topic would not be acceptable. They would know that the application process is gender- and ethnicity-neutral and such an essay would be gaming the system.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:40 PM
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So do you think hiring based on test scores and GPA alone would be a good way to form a team at work?
Several posters have already criticized this, but I'll make one more point. With few exceptions, if students work as a team, that is known as cheating.

I'm not sure where I stand on affirmative action. But I do think that admissions should be based on the benefit the university can provide to the applicant, not some sports analogy about teamwork.

Last edited by PhillyGuy; 05-16-2015 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:42 PM
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I don't think this is even possible or desirable. Some students write their entire essays on the subject of discrimination and other students write about topics that are extremely correlated with race/ethnicity.
"Wait -- he was writing about White Pride and White Power? Oh, I am so fired."
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:47 PM
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Of all the colleges I interviewed at back in the day, Harvard was the only one where the interviewer showed a keen interest in my ethnic background. A quota system has apparently been in vogue there consistently over the years.

I don't have a problem with an applications process that considers more than academic prowess and figures in other areas of achievement. But when you're excluding deserving candidates in favor of others who have done much more poorly in class in order to serve a "holistic" model, then something is wrong.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:55 PM
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I'd just like to remind everyone that removing race on the application isn't going to prevent racial discrimination, especially since 1) names are an accurate predictor of one's cultural background and 2) top-tier universities often hold in-person interviews for applicants.

But having "color-blind" applications is a GREAT way of hiding racial discrimination, though. It's a way for an institution to maintain plausible deniability.
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:57 PM
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The article linked to concerned Kenyon, a liberal arts school.

Is that also true at schools like Harvard with concentrations in STEM fields?
Liberal arts schools also have STEM concentrations. The distinction is between liberal arts colleges which focus on undergraduate education and universities which teach undergraduates while focusing on graduate education and research.

And yes it's true across the board at the undergraduate level. Males are still disproportionately represented in STEM fields within colleges and universities.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:06 PM
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Some students write their entire essays on the subject of discrimination and other students write about topics that are extremely correlated with race/ethnicity.
One problem with such essays is the cottage industry of admissions consultants helping students from wealthy families to improve them.

I also want to make a point about consideration of extra-curricular activities. Suppose you are from a family in poverty and during the time a child of mine was getting national Science Olympiad medals, you were working in McDonald's out of financial near-necessity. Although I am proud of my children's upper-middle-class type achievements, there are some serious fairness issues in considering them in admissions.

Then there is alumni preference, a wildly unfair gift to the already privileged.

Affirmative action is one way to balance the above-mentioned advantages of the wealthy. But I wonder if a mechanical system that mostly looks at grades, supplemented by test scores and planned course of study (to even out class sizes between different majors) wouldn't make more sense.

In practice, this may be a non-starter, because the development office will go bonkers if the children of annual giving regulars aren't given preference. So affirmative action may be the least-bad way to balance it out. But I don't like any of it.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:34 PM
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I realize that professional sports and higher education aren't the best analogy, but IMHO, the notion that there is such a thing as an "overrepresented minority" is problematic. You don't see the NBA or NFL saying that there needs to be a cap on the number of African-American players (the NBA and NFL are overwhelmingly African-American, despite the fact that African-Americans are a minority in the United States.) Why? Because those African-American players rose to the NBA and NFL through their own individual merits.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:48 PM
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http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate...ue-asian-quota as well as the elements of the lawsuit itself, etc.
Ah. So your declaration that they were actually imposing quotas is speculation, while you declared it to be fact.

Carry on.
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Old 05-16-2015, 08:56 PM
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I'd just like to remind everyone that removing race on the application isn't going to prevent racial discrimination, especially since 1) names are an accurate predictor of one's cultural background and 2) top-tier universities often hold in-person interviews for applicants.
1. The name can be removed from the application together with gender and ethnicity.

2. those interviews can be done by telephone. Of course, then you get into accents.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:00 PM
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Several posters have already criticized this, but I'll make one more point. With few exceptions, if students work as a team, that is known as cheating.
Come on, Professor Guy. We weren't cheating, we were... working as a team! Yeah, that's the ticket!
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:01 PM
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A class of students is much less of a "team". There is some cooperation in specialized classes/labs, but most of the time students work on their own (or, if they form teams, those teams are not university-organized) with their instructors to advance their education. The analogy fails because the two situations are not comparable.

But this actually is how elite university admissions works. The famous example is that when the tuba player in the marching band graduates, the admissions team is going to have to find you another tuba player. There is no shortage, at all, of resources on elite admissions processes. I can recommend you a dozen books on the subject.

Admissions are not thinking about "what will this student benefit from our school?" They are asking how they will benefit from you-- and there are a lot of niches to fill. A student who just sits in class getting good grades is basically worthless to a university. They need people who can make things happen, who will bring something new to the community, and who will bring interesting insight and discussion into their classes. Classes aren't just sitting there while the professor talks. Students learn from and are inspired by each other.

They want to make sure the class has enough journalists to keep the school paper going. They have spots to fill on obscure sports teams. They need to make sure the math major has enough extraverts that class discussion won't be impossible. They want someone who can organize a good alternative spring break. They want entrepreneurs who can make them as famous as Facebook did. They want to make sure the school dances are fun. They need leaders, connectors, techies, quants, activists, writer, politicians, and the whole range of ways that people can be successful.

Above all, they want people with compelling vision and a compelling story, who will continue to do compelling things (ideally while still students) that will bring attention and prestige to the unviersity. A class of 400 mid-level managers at Intel is a failure. They want inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, writers, politicians, TED talkers, and teachers.

And they put a lot of thought- an enormous amount of resources- into putting together a group of people who can get there together.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:09 PM
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Admissions are not thinking about "what will this student benefit from our school?" They are asking how they will benefit from you-- and there are a lot of niches to fill. A student who just sits in class getting good grades is basically worthless to a university. They need people who can make things happen, who will bring something new to the community, and who will bring interesting insight and discussion into their classes. Classes aren't just sitting there while the professor talks. Students learn from and are inspired by each other.

They want to make sure the class has enough journalists to keep the school paper going. They have spots to fill on obscure sports teams. They need to make sure the math major has enough extraverts that class discussion won't be impossible. They want someone who can organize a good alternative spring break. They want entrepreneurs who can make them as famous as Facebook did. They want to make sure the school dances are fun. They need leaders, connectors, techies, quants, activists, writer, politicians, and the whole range of ways that people can be successful.
And NONE of those things are related to race/ethnicity or gender. Which is the point. So - as I said, have your "holistic process" to find or select for those qualities. But remove everything gender- or race/ethnicity-related from it.

The argument I hear is "if we did that, the majority of students would be Asians". And my response is - so what? Are Asians less likely to be "leaders, connectors, techies, quants, activists, writer, politicians, and the whole range of ways that people can be successful"?
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:13 PM
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Asian American groups accuse Harvard of racial bias in admissions


nm

Last edited by even sven; 05-16-2015 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:20 PM
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They want to make sure the class has enough journalists to keep the school paper going. They have spots to fill on obscure sports teams. They need to make sure the math major has enough extraverts that class discussion won't be impossible. They want someone who can organize a good alternative spring break. They want entrepreneurs who can make them as famous as Facebook did. They want to make sure the school dances are fun. They need leaders, connectors, techies, quants, activists, writer, politicians, and the whole range of ways that people can be successful..
Those things all sound nice; but really they just want money first and foremost. Ultimately, they are businesses - these lovely things are just some of the intermediary steps that lead down the road to large alumni donations.

ETA: I don't know what my comment has to do with Asians now that I think about it.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:21 PM
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But this actually is how elite university admissions works. The famous example is that when the tuba player in the marching band graduates, the admissions team is going to have to find you another tuba player. There is no shortage, at all, of resources on elite admissions processes. I can recommend you a dozen books on the subject.

Admissions are not thinking about "what will this student benefit from our school?" They are asking how they will benefit from you-- and there are a lot of niches to fill. A student who just sits in class getting good grades is basically worthless to a university. They need people who can make things happen, who will bring something new to the community, and who will bring interesting insight and discussion into their classes. Classes aren't just sitting there while the professor talks. Students learn from and are inspired by each other.

They want to make sure the class has enough journalists to keep the school paper going. They have spots to fill on obscure sports teams. They need to make sure the math major has enough extraverts that class discussion won't be impossible. They want someone who can organize a good alternative spring break. They want entrepreneurs who can make them as famous as Facebook did. They want to make sure the school dances are fun. They need leaders, connectors, techies, quants, activists, writer, politicians, and the whole range of ways that people can be successful.

Above all, they want people with compelling vision and a compelling story, who will continue to do compelling things (ideally while still students) that will bring attention and prestige to the university. A class of 400 mid-level managers at Intel is a failure. They want inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, writers, politicians, TED talkers, and teachers.

And they put a lot of thought- an enormous amount of resources- into putting together a group of people who can get there together.


Are you suggesting that high admission rates of Asians would prevent these things from happening? This is essentially the "Asians are good test-takers but are dull in other facets of life" stereotype.

Last edited by Velocity; 05-16-2015 at 09:26 PM.
  #50  
Old 05-16-2015, 09:22 PM
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This isn't the issue with Harvard -- everyone they accept is this person, and the methods they use to choose which of them to accept are the problem. ...
Not everyone. Some are the child of owners of major sports teams or other such attributes. And let's face it, he brings value to the other students. Who will he hire when he takes over the franchise to manage the finances and the marketing? Friends he made at Harvard. Where will he donate a building to later on? Harvard. Some are chosen with slightly lower test scores because they are "legacies" - children of alum, especially alum with money who may donate generously. Altogether about 14% of the class comes from families of the wealthiest 1% of the country.

One 2017 student got in with a 3.0 GPA and below their average SAT of 2237, one a 3.55 and 1900 on the SAT. Which affirmative class do they belong to? Poverty or wealth? I don't know but if I had to guess I'd guess wealth.

What Harvard is looking for are the students who will most help Harvard over time (which includes helping other 86% of Harvard students, with stellar records and interesting and diverse life stories, become richer and/or more renown, and in turn help Harvard as well).

And I don't blame them.

They make no pretense at being a complete meritocracy and someone who "should have" gotten into Harvard if only there was not already 25% of the class already upper middle class Asian with similar extracurriculars and life stories will not, in today's world, lack for other excellent choices of college education.

I am not in favor of quotas but I am also not so sure that the goal of having the 86% that are not 1%ers consist of a variety of life experiences (which will to some degree overlap with superficial factors like race) is not a reasonable one for a school who can pick and choose whoever they want to have. They want a rural kid or two, they want a couple out of urban poor environments, they want to hear about a different set of achievements than the usual mix.

Last edited by DSeid; 05-16-2015 at 09:23 PM.
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