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  #101  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:19 PM
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Before there was AA, before everyone and their mother was trying to get into Harvard, black people were discriminated against.

There has never been a time in this country when there has not been racial discrimination against black people.

AA is not the cause of this "perception" you speak of. The perception preceded AA by almost 300 years.
The perception may have been around for a while, but the causes for the perception may have changed.
  #102  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:22 PM
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As for legacy admissions, I'm not sure if there is any effective way to ban this. It should certainly be discouraged, but how exactly would one draw up the rules for foiling it?
  #103  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:29 PM
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I think the elephant in the room is this: Many people talk about the virtues of "diversity," but they don't mean just any kind of "diversity," they mean a very specific kind of "diversity."


They're picturing a student body something like this: 50% white, 40% black or Hispanic, and 10% Asian and other races.

What they don't want is something like this: 50% white, 30% Asian, and 20% black, Hispanic and other races. That's not the kind of "diversity" that they want. They would think that that ratio is out of whack.
I'm LOL'ing.

If a school had that many black students, it would not be known as diverse. It would be known as a predominately black school and all the "good" white people would be running away from it.

You might be interested in this figure: Asian enrollment in elite institutions is between 20-30%

If Asian enrollment was, say, 30% across the board, there would still be plenty of Asians getting rejected. Especially since there are so many applying every year.
  #104  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:32 PM
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The perception may have been around for a while, but the causes for the perception may have changed.
So you're ready to get rid of AA based on an assumption that even you aren't confident about?

Last edited by monstro; 05-17-2015 at 03:34 PM.
  #105  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:34 PM
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As for legacy admissions, I'm not sure if there is any effective way to ban this. It should certainly be discouraged, but how exactly would one draw up the rules for foiling it?
Speaking of perceptions - I often hear from liberals that they do not consider Bush Jr's Yale and Harvard degrees worth much because his admission to both schools was a legacy admission.
  #106  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:36 PM
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So you're ready to get rid of AA based on an assumption that even you aren't confident about?
I am ready to get rid of racial discrimination in college admissions because it is racial discrimination. That assumption is a side issue.
  #107  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:40 PM
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I am ready to get rid of racial discrimination in college admissions because it is racial discrimination. That assumption is a side issue.
It is admirable that you want to get rid of racial discrimination. But do you have an alternative to AA that helps to offset the effects of historical and current discrimination?

Or are those things just not important to your "fair world" ideal?
  #108  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:52 PM
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It is admirable that you want to get rid of racial discrimination. But do you have an alternative to AA that helps to offset the effects of historical and current discrimination?
Yes. Don't racially discriminate.

We tried it your way. For fifty years we racially discriminated in order to "offset the effects" of racial discrimination. And yet the "effects" are still there, strong as ever, as liberals keep reminding us.

So let's try it my way. No racial discrimination. Then let's see fifty years hence if those "effects" are "offset" much better.
  #109  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:53 PM
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No, but should have been able to mention her work with a tenant organizing group. Is the fact that it is a Chinatown group extremely important?
....
You do know that you have to name the place you worked for, and that likely a letter from a supervisor is part of your file. Doubt it will say "Generic Tenant Organizing Group" and by your standard it should then be disallowed. Silly.


Let me try to break this down.

In the most elite institutions there are a certain number of spots that go to those with lesser test scores and GPAs based on legacy status. Historically and currently most of those spots are wealthy and White but with generational shifts more legacies may be wealthy and minority as well. The argument, which I had repeated, is that this represents a play for endowment money. Not currently racist in intent even if it structurally perpetuates minimally classism and to some degree racially structured outcomes. Let's hold off on further discussion of legacy for a minute to pursue the implications of a certain number of students, generally White, getting in not because they are White but in pursuit of endowments by way of legacy admissions. Maybe a quarter of the spots.

You now have a smaller pool, we are guessing 3/4ths, of everyone else. White non-legacy candidates, Middle class Asian students, Blacks of all social strata, so on. Eliminate those whose test scores and GPAs don't place them in the very top strata. Give spots to those with some way out of the normal personal accomplishment be it having already been nationally recognized for research on how computers multi-task, being a nationally ranked skier, other athletic achievements, national recognition for original cancer research while in High School, or overcoming major adversity on the path to academic excellence. That will be a mix of ethnicities, certainly some Asian and some Black, some Hispanic and some White. They won't all be Asian and there is no a priori reason to believe that there will be an over-representation of Asians in the group. Some of those might not have the very top SAT in the class and might have even had one B along the way but it is reasonably clear that they are more likely to enhance the institution both in the short and the long term than the average high SATer.

Slightly smaller pool yet now remains; let's rough it as two thirds.

Of that group the Admissions Committee wants a diverse range of interests. You are a liberal arts school ... you want at least half the class to be expressing interest (and having demonstrated their "passion" for it in past coursework and extracurriculars) in non-STEM/econ fields, things like the classics, philosophy, literature, anthropology, history, art, english, linguistics, psychology, so on. Some of those will be high achieving Asian-Americans but culturally not as many. Non-zero but smallish. The cultural push is more to hard science and math, not comparative literature. Let's be generous and call it 5% of the very top of that group is of Asian heritage. Now of the half of the remaining two thirds, that is one third of the total class, that is primarily STEM and econ focused ... to get over 20% of the total you need to argue that the vast majority of the best of the best of High School students interested in STEM and econ are of this less than 6% of the U.S. population. Not so sure that is true.

It seems not to be a quota so much as a structural result combined of legacy as an affirmative action class and the cultural biases within Asian American culture to be concentrated in similar paths and thus competing with each other and a group of similarly amazingly qualified Whites, Blacks and Hispanics for a smaller portion of the seats.

Now the legacy system is fair game to criticize. It does seem that its original intent was to discriminate against immigrants, at the time mostly Jewish ones.

I don't blame the institutions for responding to what they perceive as doing that which funds them ... although apparently it actually does not work so well. But I wouldn't mind if it was prohibited as illegal ... and it may yet be.
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... A study by Winnemac Consulting for the Century Foundation found that from 1998 to 2007, at the nation’s top 100 national universities, if one controls for the wealth of alumni, “there is no statistically significant evidence of a causal relationship between legacy preference policies and total alumni giving.” Moreover, the study found that at the seven universities that dropped legacy preferences during the time of the study, alumni giving didn’t decline. ...

... Legacy preferences may also be illegal. Although in 1976 a federal court ruled in a passing mention that legacy preferences are constitutional, the issue has never been properly litigated. Today, new legal arguments have been advanced questioning legacy preferences at both public and private universities. ...
  #110  
Old 05-17-2015, 03:59 PM
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Harvard has had a relatively low percentage of humanities majors (they call it "concentrations," it's just an affectation) for some time. It is not a "liberal arts school."

http://harvardmagazine.com/375th/concentrations-chart

One of the issues that Ivy League schools are currently confronting is the end of confidence in the humanities. The age of the prestigious English degree guaranteeing a job outside of academia is coming to a close. Best-of-the-best students who can write their own ticket are declining Harvard and Yale for Stanford and MIT because the hard science programs are not as strong.
  #111  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:06 PM
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I'm LOL'ing.

If a school had that many black students, it would not be known as diverse. It would be known as a predominately black school and all the "good" white people would be running away from it.
Just for clarification, by "40% black or Hispanic," I mean 40% comprising the total of black and Hispanic students combined. I don't mean all 40% black or all 40% Hispanic.
  #112  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:09 PM
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Yes. Don't racially discriminate.

We tried it your way. For fifty years we racially discriminated in order to "offset the effects" of racial discrimination. And yet the "effects" are still there, strong as ever, as liberals keep reminding us.

So let's try it my way. No racial discrimination. Then let's see fifty years hence if those "effects" are "offset" much better.
They aren't "as strong as ever." You conservative types are always reminding us how much improvement we've seen over the past 50s. Why, we've got a colored man in the White House!

We can say that racial discrimination is still problematic while recognizing that the situation has clearly improved for black Americans. I don't know how much of this improvement is due to AA. But your assessment that this policy has been a failure is not born out by evidence.

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  #113  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:15 PM
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We can actually isolate how much of it is due to affirmative action at prestigious universities fairly easily. Because affirmative action affects things like university *admissions* and blue-collar hiring. It doesn't make the actual program of study any easier, and it doesn't get you a job in a professional field.

The growth in the number of black doctors, lawyers, economics professors, and CEOs can't be attributable to affirmative action since affirmative action has never been used in moving people through medical school or in handing out law partnerships.
  #114  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:26 PM
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It really can't. How do you write about your decision not to wear a headscarf without talking about your race and gender? How do you explain how you balanced your parents' expectations against your own dreams if you can't contextualize those expectations? How do you talk about the discrimination you've faced, or the bigotry you've learned to recognize in yourself, or whatever without talking about race and gender?

I do this professionally. I literally review and advise kids on dozens of these things each year. For probably 50% of kids, the events that have shaped their lives, that have changed their perspective and way of thinking, are rooted in race and gender. One of the best essays I saw this year was "How being a fat gay Mexican kid in a white middle school taught me to get over myself". It was funny and heartfelt and showed a kid who was deeply insightful and had powerful gifts for analysis and language. There is no way any of that would have come out if he'd had to avoid all mention of race and gender.
What does any of that show to an undergrad or grad school admissions officer about how likely you are to succeed in the program? I'm sure that a fat, gay Mexican kid in an all white school has some interesting stories to tell. I'm also sure that we can feel sorrow and admiration for what he had to go through. But how does any of that show that he will be a good doctor or lawyer?

And even if it somehow did, why should he get admitted over another student with higher GPAs and test scores because of it? My kid doesn't get admitted because he wasn't fat, gay, or Mexican even though the objective indicators show that he will perform better in school?

A larger point is that my kid never owned slaves or participated in Jim Crow laws. He will probably be more tolerant of different lifestyles than me, e.g. will probably support same sex marriage at a greater rate than my generation. He is blameless for the past. To deny him admissions in favor of a less qualified minority applicant will, in a perverse sense, reignite racial hatreds and passions. The kid is left with the very true belief that he was only denied because he wasn't a minority who had a good story to tell.

That sort of stuff will stoke the racial fires that we all agree should die in the dustbin of history.
  #115  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:38 PM
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We can actually isolate how much of it is due to affirmative action at prestigious universities fairly easily. Because affirmative action affects things like university *admissions* and blue-collar hiring. It doesn't make the actual program of study any easier, and it doesn't get you a job in a professional field.

The growth in the number of black doctors, lawyers, economics professors, and CEOs can't be attributable to affirmative action since affirmative action has never been used in moving people through medical school or in handing out law partnerships.
Medical schools don't use AA?

I'd be curious to see how black professionals compare against their white counterparts in terms of their high school credentials. If black professionals, on average, had less-than-stellar high school credentials (fewer advanced classes, less impressive SAT scores), one could argue that AA faciliated their advancement, allowing them to offet the disadvantages of their birth and cultural background. If black professionals, on average, had marks that were similar to their white peers, then one could argue that AA is just a waste of time. If you've got all the merit criteria checked off, you'll make it. If you don't, you'll flunk out. No special boost is necessary.

Hmmm...what do you know? There's been research done on this exact subject. I guess social science is actually good for something!

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Finally, Bok and Bowen's study also puts into context and perspective the gaps in SAT scores and GPAs and describes their relative importance in admissions decisions. One important, perhaps surprising statistic they cite has to do with average SAT scores. While the average SAT score of African Americans admitted under race-sensitive admissions was 1098, the authors predict that, without these policies, those African Americans admitted would have an average SAT score of about 1181.
  #116  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:44 PM
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Harvard has had a relatively low percentage of humanities majors (they call it "concentrations," it's just an affectation) for some time. It is not a "liberal arts school."

http://harvardmagazine.com/375th/concentrations-chart ...
Your link shows that sciences and humanities are as they always have been, mostly neck and neck, and that the biggest group by far, nearly half the class, is social sciences - which includes Anthropology, Sociology, African American Studies, Psychology, Economics, Poli Sci, Government, History ... sounds like a liberal arts school to me. Pretty similar to Yale and likely most other liberal arts colleges, and not majority hard science and math.
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Old 05-17-2015, 04:48 PM
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What does any of that show to an undergrad or grad school admissions officer about how likely you are to succeed in the program? I'm sure that a fat, gay Mexican kid in an all white school has some interesting stories to tell. I'm also sure that we can feel sorrow and admiration for what he had to go through. But how does any of that show that he will be a good doctor or lawyer?
Disparities in health among ethnic minorities

Racial disparities in criminal justice

Being a good doctor or lawyer is not predicated on someone being fat and Mexican. But perhaps one way to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in medicine and criminal justice is to increase the representation of practitioners from stigmatized racial and ethnic groups. Perhaps some of the disparities are the direct result of low representation.

I'm imagining a group of first-year medical students learning about how culture can play a role in medicine. It does not benefit those students if everyone in that room comes from the same culture--including the instructor.

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  #118  
Old 05-17-2015, 04:52 PM
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Correct, it's not up for debate, because there weren't any. As I alluded to earlier, " ... while those particular concerns had racial overtones, even then the idea of racial quotas was rejected in favor of what has since come to be called the "holistic" approach, which really goes back to the early 20s ..."

From your own link! ... (emphasis mine) ...
Lowell received a great deal of public criticism, particularly in the Boston press [for having proposed quotas]. Harvard's overseers appointed a 13-member committee, which included three Jews, to study the university's “Jewish problem.” The committee rejected a Jewish quota but agreed that “geographic diversity” in the student body was desirable.
The rejection of quotas was really the whole basis for the "holistic" approach being discussed here, whether or not one agrees with it. From the cite I provided earlier:
Lowell’s first idea -- a quota limiting Jews to fifteen per cent of the student body -- was roundly criticized. Lowell tried restricting the number of scholarships given to Jewish students, and made an effort to bring in students from public schools in the West, where there were fewer Jews. Neither strategy worked. Finally, Lowell -- and his counterparts at Yale and Princeton -- realized that if a definition of merit based on academic prowess was leading to the wrong kind of student, the solution was to change the definition of merit. Karabel argues that it was at this moment that the history and nature of the Ivy League took a significant turn.
So, the imposition of "geographic diversity" quotas for the purpose of limiting the number of Jews entering Harvard did not constitute imposing "Jewish quotas".

Ok, leaving aside the fact that such a claim is jaw-droppingly stupid, for your sake, I hope you have never once claimed that the use of poll taxes or literacy tests in Jim Crow states was racist since they were not in fact explicitly racist but, in theory at least, applied to both whites and blacks regardless of the intent behind them.
  #119  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:00 PM
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They aren't "as strong as ever." You conservative types are always reminding us how much improvement we've seen over the past 50s. Why, we've got a colored man in the White House!
Yeah, no kidding. A colored man who is an Ivy League graduate, married to a colored woman who is also an Ivy League graduate. Almost exactly 45 years before Obama was elected president of the United States, George Wallace was standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent two black students from entering its hallowed halls. The Civil Rights Act was still in the future, and the Negro Motorist Green Book was still being published, advising such motorists where they could safely stay on cross-country road trips without being killed. Yes, I do believe there have been some changes in the past 50 years, even if conservatives don't quite see them.
  #120  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:16 PM
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monstro while you and I have not seen perfectly eye to eye on this subject in the past, today's NYT has an article that makes some of the same points you have made before and make today. I'll just quote the concluding paragraph -
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In an ideal world, the race of the patient or physician wouldn’t matter; we would all treat each other strictly as individuals. But we’re quite a ways from reaching that exalted goal. For now, we have to attack the problem of racial health disparities from as many angles as possible. Black doctors are an important part of this mission.
Being fat gay and Mexican does not make the kid a better student; it was how he wrote about it and the insights he demonstrated discussing being "other" with humor that Manda Jo was impressed by, and that she thought would not have been demonstrated so well if his discussing how he is/was "other" was a verboten topic. It may be that as a result he will be better skilled at appreciating others otherness. In any case his past experience of otherness is a key part of who he is, what motivates him, and his demonstrated ability to integrate that into his persona with humor and insight is a plus.

Here's the simple reality that often gets missed: communication skills (be it involving different cultures or not) are skills and skills are not well taught in a lecture format. They require either being naturally talented or practice and coaching or more often both ... just like throwing a football or playing a musical instrument. Being in an environment that is all "us" and getting lectures about how to talk to "them" ... even if given by a "them" ... is no substitute for actual experiences on the level of equals.

Last edited by DSeid; 05-17-2015 at 05:17 PM.
  #121  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:26 PM
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So, the imposition of "geographic diversity" quotas for the purpose of limiting the number of Jews entering Harvard did not constitute imposing "Jewish quotas".
Correct, it did not, but more to the point, if you could be bothered to read my second quote, the geographic diversity idea was scuttled pretty quickly.
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Ok, leaving aside the fact that such a claim is jaw-droppingly stupid, ...
Thank you, and I bid you a nice day too! But I think what you're trying to allege is that it's actually the Harvard admissions committees and policies that are "jaw-droppingly stupid" since they maintained then, and maintain today, that they don't impose quotas. I suspect they would disagree with your characterization of their abject stupidity.
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for your sake, I hope you have never once claimed that the use of poll taxes or literacy tests in Jim Crow states was racist since they were not in fact explicitly racist but, in theory at least, applied to both whites and blacks regardless of the intent behind them.
I have, because they were racist. I also never claimed that Harvard admissions policies weren't discriminatory -- indeed if you look just a little upthread you'll find that I said that any such selection process is by definition discriminatory. I do, however, see major differences between the objectives of Harvard boards governing admissions policies and the intimidation and voter suppression tactics used against black voters by racist southern bigots. Perhaps you don't.
  #122  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:33 PM
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Here's the simple reality that often gets missed: communication skills (be it involving different cultures or not) are skills and skills are not well taught in a lecture format. They require either being naturally talented or practice and coaching or more often both ... just like throwing a football or playing a musical instrument. Being in an environment that is all "us" and getting lectures about how to talk to "them" ... even if given by a "them" ... is no substitute for actual experiences on the level of equals.
So true!

Although most of my grad school education was focused on ecology, I took a biology of cancer seminar just for the hell of it. In no other class had I ever felt so uncomfortable. When we started discussing racial disparities, the instructor kept framing things as "we" and "they". I seemed to be the only person who noticed this, perhaps because I was the only member of "they" in the classroom (though there may have been Jewish ears present when she lectured on BRCA1.)
  #123  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:42 PM
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Thank you, and I bid you a nice day too! But I think what you're trying to allege is that it's actually the Harvard admissions committees and policies that are "jaw-droppingly stupid" since they maintained then, and maintain today, that they don't impose quotas. I suspect they would disagree with your characterization of their abject stupidity.
I didn't accuse you, or for that matter the people who imposed the Jewish quotas as being "stupid".

I said your argument was.

I'll add that it's extremely possible for smart people to believe idiotic ideas without being stupid.

Most early 20th Century intellectuals in both the US and the UK were fervent believers in Eugenics which was vastly more stupid than any claims you've made and it was believed by people smarter than both you and me.

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I have, because they were racist. I also never claimed that Harvard admissions policies weren't discriminatory -- indeed if you look just a little upthread you'll find that I said that any such selection process is by definition discriminatory. I do, however, see major differences between the objectives of Harvard boards governing admissions policies and the intimidation and voter suppression tactics used against black voters by racist southern bigots. Perhaps you don't.
Leaving aside the fact that you clearly either ignored or didn't understand what I was communicating, if you think that policies that are designed to limit the number of black people from voting are "racist" but school policies designed to limit the number of Jews to colleges aren't "anti-Semitic" but are merely "discriminatory" then that is more than a little odd.

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  #124  
Old 05-17-2015, 05:44 PM
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Being fat gay and Mexican does not make the kid a better student; it was how he wrote about it and the insights he demonstrated discussing being "other" with humor that Manda Jo was impressed by, and that she thought would not have been demonstrated so well if his discussing how he is/was "other" was a verboten topic.
If the only thing that he can write so impressively and humorously about is being fat, gay and Mexican, then maybe his writing skills are not so great.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:09 PM
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Terr,

Now you are being (I hope intentionally) dense. The point is to write impressively and humorously about the experiences that defined his sense of who he is and what he wants to become, in his case an experience of being other, an outsider to many groups, and integrating that experience positively. No doubt someone who can write impressively and humorously about that can likely also write well about other things ... but writing impressively and humorously about the public's obsession with a particular television show, or about a period of history, or a debate in science, is not the information that an admission committee is usually* wanting to read about in a personal essay. They want to learn about who the candidate is.

*I say "usually" because some places really care more that you can write well and maybe creatively or insightfully. University of Chicago's essay prompts come to mind - mine chose "So Where is Waldo Anyway?" ... great essay, a film noir style radio play in which Waldo, striped shirt and all, was the lover the detective was hired by the femme fatal to find, but who turned out to be a killer ... set in Hyde Park of course. Grades and test scores still not enough to get more than waitlisted though.

Last edited by DSeid; 05-17-2015 at 06:10 PM.
  #126  
Old 05-17-2015, 06:13 PM
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Terr,

Now you are being (I hope intentionally) dense. The point is to write impressively and humorously about the experiences that defined his sense of who he is and what he wants to become, in his case an experience of being other, an outsider to many groups, and integrating that experience positively.
Why? Why in the world does that matter to someone considering his application to college? If the point is the ability to "write impressively and humorously" then any topic will do. If the point is that he's a fat gay Mexican kid, then no, it should have nothing to do with whether his application is approved or not.
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They want to learn about who the candidate is.
Yes, and if his identity is all locked up in his ethnicity or gender, then he is not that good a candidate.
  #127  
Old 05-17-2015, 06:27 PM
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wolfpup,

1920s Harvard: We are not going to have "quotas" but we have too many Jews and we know how many we want as our max, so let's give a one up to legacy students (they're our proper old money types) and give preferential selection to areas where there are not many Jews. That should cut it down by a half or at least a third, right? That's getting to the right numbers, not too many. All agreed? Fine.

The argument today is not whether or not there is an explicit Asian quota; the accusation is that there is a "de facto" one. And the appearance of one may just be the residual of a system that was explicitly created to limit the number of Jews to an acceptable number (without using an explicit quota) that has been justified for other reasons for so long that no one still remembers that those reasons were always after the fact rationalizations. (And of cultural factors within the Asian American community that concentrate high achieving students into a limited range of subject, and of a desire to have some pretense of diverse sociocultural experiences in the portion of the class not reserved for legacy and other big money families.)
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:42 PM
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Terr,

Again, no the point is not just writing impressively: it is about how he has come to think about who he is.

Your belief is that someone whose life story has been shaped by being other makes them not that good a candidate. Okay. If you were on an admission committee that would be your response; it still informed you. Others may come to another conclusion, depending on what he wrote and how he wrote it. Whatever it speaks to who is actually is and from the brief description provided by Manda Jo suggests someone who is able to discuss issues of labels and expectations in a manner that disarms and unites. My guess from Manda Jo's post stating he wrote how it taught him to get over himself is that he generalized from his experience to how others also feel outsider ... don't know ... but the story of who he is should not be subject to censorship because part of how he became who he is tied up with his and others' responses to his ethnicity or sexual preference or body size.
  #129  
Old 05-17-2015, 06:47 PM
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Terr,

Again, no the point is not just writing impressively: it is about how he has come to think about who he is.

Your belief is that someone whose life story has been shaped by being other makes them not that good a candidate.
No. Someone whose life story has ONLY been shaped by being "the other" and who can not write "impressively and humorously" about his other life experiences that have nothing to do with his ethnicity is not that good a candidate.

Anyway, this hunt for the "victims who overcame the obstacles society placed in front of them" in college admissions is a fad, and a stupid one. Especially if the victimhood is self-reported.

Reminds me of George Costanza's attempt to get into that NY condo thwarted because they are going to give the condo to the guy claiming to be the Andrea Doria survivor. And of course in the end the guy who bribed the building's super gets it.

Last edited by Terr; 05-17-2015 at 06:50 PM.
  #130  
Old 05-17-2015, 06:59 PM
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I didn't accuse you, or for that matter the people who imposed the Jewish quotas as being "stupid".
Nice curveball there, champ! The "Jewish quotas" live on! But I'm not aware of any "people who imposed the Jewish quotas" -- at least, not at Harvard.

Look, I think it's pretty clear that Lowell had anti-Semitic beliefs by today's standards, and advocated practices accordingly. No doubt the same prejudices existed against blacks and other minorities at the time even in the most liberal institutions. Anti-Semitism was quite widespread in the US at least well into the 40s. The point is that quotas were not imposed and were strenuously opposed by many, and even "geographic diversity" measures were short-lived and had virtually no impact. Rightly or wrongly, the Ivy Leagues moved toward a broader all-encompassing ideal driving admission criteria that has evolved to the present day. You may not like it, and it may have discriminatory aspects, but it's neither racist nor quota-based. It is biased, as I said before, to the prevailing power base, and Harvard couldn't care less if the prevailing power base was white, black, or purple with 20-foot antennae sprouting out of its collective foreheads.

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Leaving aside the fact that you clearly either ignored or didn't understand what I was communicating, if you think that policies that are designed to limit the number of black people from voting are "racist" but school policies designed to limit the number of Jews to colleges aren't "anti-Semitic" but are merely "discriminatory" then that is more than a little odd.
Discrimination is not the same as racism as there are an infinite number of factors on which we can discriminate, including intelligence, gender, height, eye color, and a few million other things. Racism is a specific subset of discrimination that is frequently hateful and typically more virulent. The words "discrimination", "racism", and "quotas" all have specific meanings and I was using these words in the sense in which they are generally understood. If you choose to blur them all together into some vague sense of "not very nice", that's not something I need to be accountable for.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:08 PM
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Nice curveball there, champ! The "Jewish quotas" live on! But I'm not aware of any "people who imposed the Jewish quotas" -- at least, not at Harvard.

Look, I think it's pretty clear that Lowell had anti-Semitic beliefs by today's standards, and advocated practices accordingly. No doubt the same prejudices existed against blacks and other minorities at the time even in the most liberal institutions. Anti-Semitism was quite widespread in the US at least well into the 40s. The point is that quotas were not imposed and were strenuously opposed by many, and even "geographic diversity" measures were short-lived and had virtually no impact. Rightly or wrongly, the Ivy Leagues moved toward a broader all-encompassing ideal driving admission criteria that has evolved to the present day. You may not like it, and it may have discriminatory aspects, but it's neither racist nor quota-based. It is biased, as I said before, to the prevailing power base, and Harvard couldn't care less if the prevailing power base was white, black, or purple with 20-foot antennae sprouting out of its collective foreheads.


Discrimination is not the same as racism as there are an infinite number of factors on which we can discriminate, including intelligence, gender, height, eye color, and a few million other things. Racism is a specific subset of discrimination that is frequently hateful and typically more virulent. The words "discrimination", "racism", and "quotas" all have specific meanings and I was using these words in the sense in which they are generally understood. If you choose to blur them all together into some vague sense of "not very nice", that's not something I need to be accountable for.
Your claim that the "geographic diversity" quotas at Ivy League universities were "short-lived" is demonstrably false.

I'll presume you've heard of Bill Bradley. If not he was a US Senator who ran for President in 2000. He was also an enthusiastic proponent of Affirmative Action and he used as an example in support of it that he had benefitted from "geographical diversity" quotas.

Beyond that, Peter Novick, Malcolm Gladwell and others have pointed out that the Ivy Leagues continued such "geographical diversity" quotas for decades.

Beyond that, I don't really see a point in continuing this conversation since you seem to be the only person on this thread who happens to believe that there were no anti-Jewish quotas at Harvard and other universities, you seem to be engaging in thinly-veiled insults rather than making arguments and I'd question whether you're debating in good faith. If you want to continue this discussion I'd recommend either taking it to the other GD thread or opening one in the pit, though I doubt I'll be participating.

Last edited by Ibn Warraq; 05-17-2015 at 07:11 PM.
  #132  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:09 PM
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No. Someone whose life story has ONLY been shaped by being "the other" and who can not write "impressively and humorously" about his other life experiences
Well, we do not know that, do we? We know what in his life he DID write about. This impressed Manda JO but leaves you asking "lemme see you write as impressively about something else in your life". Fair enough but that's a different complaint.

You would demand that he write just as impressively about some "neutral" subject, or that he write something that would remain just as impressive after being redacted for "neutrality"? And who's going to define "neutral' or redact for neutrality? I sure wouldn't want to be in the latter panel.

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Anyway, this hunt for the "victims who overcame the obstacles society placed in front of them" in college admissions is a fad, and a stupid one. Especially if the victimhood is self-reported.
Uh huh... a fad. Really?

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  #133  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:15 PM
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Terr,

Honestly I find your reaction to be quite odd.

His being a fat gay Mexican kid probably was the most important aspect to his development of sense of self and of learning how people, of various cultures, himself included I suspect, respond to identifiers. The "only"? Probably not. But why should that which was most important be censored?

I do not see discussing that as claiming victimhood and see your reading that into it as coming out of some agenda in your head.

OTOH if rooting for someone who has a story of having achieved despite odds stacked against them is a fad then it is very long lasting one, going back to at least David and Goliath and I am sure before that and a key part of many political campaign narratives. Oh we love our "humble beginnings" and always have.
  #134  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:22 PM
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Well, we do not know that, do we? We know what in his life he DID write about. This impressed Manda JO but leaves you asking "lemme see you write as impressively about something else in your life". Fair enough but that's a different complaint.
Her argument was that (responding to my post about it) if the kid was precluded from writing about being Mexican, he would not have had the chance that he had.
Quote:
You would demand that he write just as impressively about some "neutral" subject, or that he write something that would remain just as impressive after being redacted for "neutrality"? And who's going to define "neutral' or redact for neutrality?
Nothing referring to the applicant's ethnicity or gender. Not too much to ask, is it?
  #135  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:26 PM
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wolfpup,

1920s Harvard: We are not going to have "quotas" but we have too many Jews and we know how many we want as our max, so let's give a one up to legacy students (they're our proper old money types) and give preferential selection to areas where there are not many Jews. That should cut it down by a half or at least a third, right? That's getting to the right numbers, not too many. All agreed? Fine.

The argument today is not whether or not there is an explicit Asian quota; the accusation is that there is a "de facto" one. And the appearance of one may just be the residual of a system that was explicitly created to limit the number of Jews to an acceptable number (without using an explicit quota) that has been justified for other reasons for so long that no one still remembers that those reasons were always after the fact rationalizations. (And of cultural factors within the Asian American community that concentrate high achieving students into a limited range of subject, and of a desire to have some pretense of diverse sociocultural experiences in the portion of the class not reserved for legacy and other big money families.)
I agree. That is, I agree that this is how it started, with policies that embodied the anti-semitism that was the norm at the time, and no doubt happily excluded other minorities, too, again, the norm for the time.

I find it hard to believe that today, admissions policies are anything more insidious than what I said in the previous post, catering to the existing power base. There may indeed be de facto discrimination against Asians as a side effect, though I would not use the word "quota" which means something entirely different. But the fundamental question is this: does anyone have the right to roar in and demand that Harvard and other Ivy Leagues abandon longstanding policies whose purpose is to promote the best interests of all their stakeholders -- students, alumni, and the supporters of their endowment? And if so, why? What would be the net societal gain or loss? I'm not sure that I have the definitive answers to those questions, but aren't those the key questions?
  #136  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:34 PM
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I think if someone can write about being a fat Mexican well enough that they leave a positive impression on the reader, they've done what they were supposed to it.

Even if we accept that one's "victimhood" does not make for an interesting topic, the fact that this kid made it interesting renders this a point moot.

I can think of a number of topics a high school student might choose to write about, that I wouldn't recommend. Like how it feels to watch paint drying. But if an 18-year-old chooses this topic and they write about it so well that the reader forgets to be bored, then A+ for them.

I'm guessing kids who attempt to write about intentionally profound subjects are more likely to miss the mark than kids who write about what they've experienced.

Admissions officers probably don't get to read a lot of stories about how it feels to be a fat Mexican. But I'm guessing they probably hear a lot of "My personal epiphany from that one time my youth group volunteered at the homeless shelter."
  #137  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:36 PM
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... you seem to be the only person on this thread who happens to believe that there were no anti-Jewish quotas at Harvard
I use words to mean what they mean. I fully acknowledge the anti-Semitic origins of admissions policies in the 20s.
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... you seem to be engaging in thinly-veiled insults rather than making arguments and I'd question whether you're debating in good faith.
I'm fascinated and quite mystified by that remark. Perhaps you'd care to point out where you think you see "thinly-veiled insults" or debating in bad faith, both of which would certainly be news to me.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:41 PM
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Server problems created duplicate post.

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  #139  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:50 PM
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Wolfpup,

Well insofar as Harvard takes Federal funding (16% of their operating budget) one of their stakeholders is the American people as a whole.

Legacy preference minimally reinforces classism in our society, a hereditary advantage. That is not consistent with what most of us see as American values. As such the American people as stakeholder can and should insist that funding come with the strings attached that legacy status not be a factor in admissions. Until we do any institution that believes (correctly or not) that pandering to alums in that way substantially increases donations cannot be blamed for doing so.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:54 PM
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I'm fascinated and quite mystified by that remark. Perhaps you'd care to point out where you think you see "thinly-veiled insults" or debating in bad faith, both of which would certainly be news to me.
If you're going to claim that your use of the phrase "champ" wasn't meant as an implicit, as opposed to explicit, insult then you're insulting the intelligence of everyone in this thread including your's.
  #141  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:55 PM
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I agree. That is, I agree that this is how it started, with policies that embodied the anti-semitism that was the norm at the time, and no doubt happily excluded other minorities, too, again, the norm for the time.
Is there any evidence that other minorities were "over-represented" at schools like Harvard? I think we can safely rule out blacks. Were their "too many" Irish or Italian students being accepted?

I agree that there were not explicit quotas, but there were polices put in place to reduce the number of Jews. However, I'm not aware of any other minority groups that were the target of those policies, but I'm open to being educated on that subject if I'm misinformed.

Last edited by John Mace; 05-17-2015 at 07:56 PM.
  #142  
Old 05-17-2015, 07:57 PM
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Terr,

Honestly I find your reaction to be quite odd.

His being a fat gay Mexican kid probably was the most important aspect to his development of sense of self and of learning how people, of various cultures, himself included I suspect, respond to identifiers. The "only"? Probably not. But why should that which was most important be censored?
Because if you want ethnicity-neutral admissions, it has to be censored.
  #143  
Old 05-17-2015, 08:13 PM
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I find it hard to believe that today, admissions policies are anything more insidious than what I said in the previous post, catering to the existing power base.
Catering to the existing power base sounds extremely illiberal and could justify almost any kind of discrimination. And I think you are right that the sort of schools discussed in this thread do that.

This is not to imply that any group of non-whites is part of the power base.

If admissions offices only gave preference to the real power base (children of contributors and influential employees), it would look quite bad to the US public. Read this carefully:

Quote:
Despite common perception, enrollment applications received at Stanford from children of alumni - known as ‘legacies’ – are treated differently than those received from children of faculty and donors. While all receive preferential treatment, legacy or even double legacy status does not put a student in the same category as children of faculty or children of top donors.

At least two sources connected to the Stanford admissions process - who requested anonymity - told us the threshold for preferential treatment was $500,000. Stanford officials refused to give a specific figure for this article.
http://patch.com/california/paloalto...-path-c38ea20a

Perhaps the worst thing about Affirmative Action is that it draws attention away from what you correctly term "catering to the existing power base."

As I've written before, I am torn on this issue. While pure-merit based admissions, focused on high school grades and, to a lesser extent, test scores, would be better than what we have now, taking away AA while continuing all the explicit and implicit advantages given affluent applicants would be worse.
  #144  
Old 05-17-2015, 08:13 PM
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Her argument was that (responding to my post about it) if the kid was precluded from writing about being Mexican, he would not have had the chance that he had.

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Because if you want ethnicity-neutral admissions, it has to be censored.
I do not think you understand the point of college admissions essays. How well a kid writes is a function, but it's a secondary one. How compelling of a personal story a kid has to tell is also a function, but also a secondary one. The primary function is to see how insightful, self-aware, reflective a person is. They are looking for the kid who makes the most of opportunities and who is least side-tracked by challenges. This is generally a kid who has a high degree of self-understanding, of perspective. Denying people the chance to use the things that shape that perspective undermines the function of the whole thing.

It also, frankly, heavily advantages those whose perspective is that of the default, the white upper middle class Christian kid. They don't have to explain or defend their point of view to give their story context, because if they just leave it all unsaid, everyone will fill in the blanks in the predictable way. It's the non-standard kid who has to twist into pretzels to avoid mentioning that the party was a quinceanera or whatever.

If you are going to insist on race blind interviews, essay, and rec letters, you might as well just reduce applications to numbers. And I think what you lose when you do that is worse than whatever ills the current system has.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:17 PM
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I do not think you understand the point of college admissions essays. How well a kid writes is a function, but it's a secondary one. How compelling of a personal story a kid has to tell is also a function, but also a secondary one. The primary function is to see how insightful, self-aware, reflective a person is.
And of course, if the kid is not allowed to write about his ethnicity, then his insightfulness, self-awareness and reflectivity suffer horribly. Right?
Quote:
If you are going to insist on race blind interviews, essay, and rec letters, you might as well just reduce applications to numbers. And I think what you lose when you do that is worse than whatever ills the current system has.
What you lose is racial discrimination. You may not consider that an "ill". I do.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:20 PM
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Terr,

And the point being that ethnicity is sometimes pertinent to the stories that shaped individuals lives in very critical ways.

It might be how the first love of music began with singing gospel in church (a racial identifier) and how curiosity about gospel then sparked a love of history as the student investigated the stories associated with its origin and oral history within his/her own family. Or how GrandPaPa's cooking traditional Mexican foods was an inspiration for studying the science of food. Good stories need details and details identify.

In any case I dispute the premise that ethnicity-neutral requires ethnicity-blind.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:23 PM
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Terr,

And the point being that ethnicity is sometimes pertinent to the stories that shaped individuals lives in very critical ways.
And if you want ethnicity-neutral admissions, you cannot have such stories.
Quote:
In any case I dispute the premise that ethnicity-neutral requires ethnicity-blind.
If you don't have ethnicity removed from applications, you have absolutely no assurance that the admissions are ethnicity-neutral. People reviewing the applications are human. Which means possibly biased. Making the ethnicity not available to the reviewer's consideration removes that possible bias.
  #148  
Old 05-17-2015, 08:25 PM
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And of course, if the kid is not allowed to write about his ethnicity, then his insightfulness, self-awareness and reflectivity suffer horribly. Right?
He ( and she, and other he, and all of them) have to tell a story about something. They have to show what they've reflected on. How can you talk about what you've come to understand about yourself without talking about yourself, or how others perceive/react to you?

If you're an upper middle class white kid, you kind of can, because the reader will fill in the blanks with their own assumptions. If you are less typical, you can't. The story falls to pieces, doesn't make sense, sounds fake.

Quote:
What you lose is racial discrimination. You may not consider that an "ill". I do.
As it is now, I don't consider it an ill so terrible that it's worth restructuring the system into one that would effectively highly favor the children of the upper-middle class who know the system very, very well. I mean, we already have that system, preventing atypical kids to talk about what makes them atypical would just make it worse.
  #149  
Old 05-17-2015, 08:27 PM
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I agree that there were not explicit quotas, but there were polices put in place to reduce the number of Jews. However, I'm not aware of any other minority groups that were the target of those policies, but I'm open to being educated on that subject if I'm misinformed.
See:

http://www.princeton.edu/mudd/news/f...mericans.shtml

Quote:
Such was the case with Bruce M. Wright, the first African American admitted to Princeton in the 20th-century, in 1935. Upon arriving on campus Wright's race became apparent, and he was promptly sent home.
And:

https://books.google.com/books?id=zw...nceton&f=false

Quote:
Thought three black students enrolled in the entering class of 1949 in the wake of the passage of New Jersey's Fair Educational Practices Act, Princeton soon reverted to its old ways . . .
While Princeton may have been the worst of the high-prestige Northern universities, my impression is that before Affirmation Action (or maybe just a couple years earlier), black applicants were generally held to a much higher standard than wasps.

Last edited by PhillyGuy; 05-17-2015 at 08:29 PM.
  #150  
Old 05-17-2015, 08:27 PM
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As it is now, I don't consider it an ill so terrible that it's worth restructuring the system into one that would effectively highly favor the children of the upper-middle class who know the system very, very well. I mean, we already have that system, preventing atypical kids to talk about what makes them atypical would just make it worse.
Understood. I consider racial discrimination an ill so terrible that it has to be taken out behind the shed and shot. Repeatedly. I have been on the receiving end of such discrimination. You probably haven't.

So I guess we won't agree.

Last edited by Terr; 05-17-2015 at 08:28 PM.
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