May 2, 2014

"It is important to not merely isolate affirmative action policy but to put it in the larger context of a narrative of fear that suggests..."

"... that some people are advancing that ‘should not be advancing’ while others are ‘losing ground,‘... Unfortunately this narrative does not look at the demographic reality.... Nebraska is more diverse than UW. Thus, the scrutiny cannot be just about diversity because the numbers don’t seem to warrant the concern."

Says University of Wisconsin Education professor and assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs Gloria Ladson-Billings, quoted in a UW student newspaper article titled "Despite charges of unfair admissions process, UW’s student body remains mostly white." ("Mostly" = 85%.)

53 comments:

Matt said...

I worked in the UW-Madison School of Business Undergraduate Office. As a junior-senior program, admission was based upon completion of required courses as a freshman and sophomore as well as achieving the required GPA during those two years. The required GPA for white and East Asian students was 3.20. The required GPA for non-East Asian minorities was a 2.50.

Completion of the required courses and attaining the required GPA GUARANTEED admission into the program. As such, a student who was not a targeted minority and had a 3.19 GPA was denied admission. Meanwhile, a targeted minority with a 2.50 GPA was guaranteed admission.

The program had high demand and limited slots which is why the required GPA for non-targeted students rose from 2.90 to 3.20 over just a few years. A student admitted with a 2.50 was indeed taking the spot of a more qualified student.

Thus, the "narrative of fear" is accurate.

SteveR said...

.4% whiter? Racists! There should be a law

traditionalguy said...

Start massive Busing for the missing 35% instanter! Liberty, Fraternity and Equality must be carried out.

Could this be what Obama's silly push for high speed trains was all about?

mikee said...

Simply put, to argue that skin tone is determinative of a person's abilities is racist.

And Affirmative Action does just that.


To stop government-sponsored racism, the government must stop treating citizens differently based on race.

mikee said...

Simply put, to argue that skin tone is determinative of a person's abilities is racist.

And Affirmative Action does just that.


To stop government-sponsored racism, the government must stop treating citizens differently based on race.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how much money -- university money -- was wasted on putting out that banal statement by the asst vice-chancellor of academic affairs. Too many administrators!

As long as Affirmative Action Policies exist, people who get in on their own merits will be judged. And that is corrosive.

Sorun said...

"Gloria Ladson-Billings...said the root of the concern over affirmative action is based on the misconception that white students are losing spots at universities to minority students."

Which is bullshit. White students are no more worried about losing spots to minorities than they are to foreign students.

What people hate about AA is the lack of the principle of equal treatment.

Sorun said...

Gloria Ladson-Billings is probably an affirmative action hire.

campy said...

Bullshit. Who's ever said some people "should not be advancing"? (Except for people who don't work at it, but just expect handouts. E.g. our POTUS.)

Sorun said...

"UW’s student body remains mostly white"

Since academics is considered "acting white" in black American culture, then why would anyone expect something else.

David said...

I have no idea what Ladson-Billings was trying to say. That does make it a unsurprising quite for what is overall a pretty shallow article.

If you like percentage tests, Wisconsin is doing ok, since the white percentage at UW Madison is pretty much the same as in the state as a whole.

My sense is that the other campuses in the UW system are much whiter.

The program Matt describes for admission into the Undergraduate Business school does not sound very holistic to me.

The real problem remains educational failure at the primary and secondary school level. Universities are trying to make up for a massive societal failure to provide first rate education to black and hispanic minorities. It's near impossible to fix this at the college level without making some group extremely unhappy.

RonF said...

According to Wikipedia, Wisconsin is 86.2% white in 2010. It's a state school whose primary mission is - I presume - to educate the youth of Wisconsin. What's the problem?

gerry said...

I am blinded by the white.

Real American said...

Gloria Ladson-Billings and her type advocate blatant racial discrimination, pure and simple. They think minorities are stupider than whites and Asians and thus need a handout. They also feel free to ridicule white and Asian victims who don't get in because of the color of their skins. She's mocking them and diminishing their injury as part of some kind of narrative of fear. She and her ilk are the Donald Sterlings of the academic world and should be banned forever from these universities. There is no place in any state run universities for racists like that.

mccullough said...

The state is mostly white, so the demographics of UW should pretty much match it.

RonF said...

Here are the questions I would ask:

1) Are minorities being admitted at least in part as a function of their race?
2) Are minorities with significantly lower grade and test scores being admitted over non-minorities with higher ones?
3) Are those minorities so admitted flunking out in higher than average numbers?

If the answers to all of those is "yes", then I'd say that non-minorities are being improperly discriminated against at the UW's admission office.

MIT divides up minorities into "minorities" and "under-represented minorities". The latter are students whose ethnic or racial background is represented in the MIT student body in a lower percentage than they are in the U.S. population at large. The former are essentially Americans of Asian heritage, who are present in the MIT student body in a percentage well above their percentage of the U.S. population.

Students of an under-represented minority who have test scores, grades and other qualifications that make the cutoffs that ALL students must make are automatically admitted. The rest compete. Underrepresented minorities do flunk out or otherwise leave MIT before graduation in higher percentages than others, but the difference is I believe 2 or 3 percentage points, not huge. It's still far, far higher than at other schools.

Jane the Actuary said...

The complaint that UW-Madison isn't sufficiently diverse, backed by a statement that the university is 0.4% whiter than the state as a whole, makes no sense. One presumes that in reality, the nonwhites are disproportionately Asian, and the author doesn't want to address this uncomfortable fact, so she simply ignores it even though omitting it makes her sound incompetent, really.

In the meantime, after the Court decision came out, I had worked out a little piece on how the controversy over affirmative action shows that our system of higher education is broken, and the "name brand" and prestige of a given university has become more important than actual learning (otherwise, second choices would be a lot more acceptable for those who lost out, and iffy admits would second-guess their place, if high-status truly meant exceptionally-rigorous).

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-belated-take-on-university.html

But Matt's comment on the business school: really? You make it into a "name-brand" school but you can't get into the course of study you want? Why are places limited? Shouldn't there be classroom seats available for anyone who wants to study the subject and can handle the material? And if the restriction is because the subject is exceptionally rigorous, then what rationale can there possibly be for lower admission requirements for preferred minorities?

Anglelyne said...

David: I have no idea what Ladson-Billings was trying to say.

1) "School of Education professor".

2) "Assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs."

3) Talks about "narratives of fear" while talking up a demographic datum that tells you nothing whatever about whether more qualified white students are losing places to less qualified minorities.

In other words, I doubt she has any idea what she was trying to say, either,beyond "AA is A-OK".

David said...

Seventy five percent of the black people in Wisconsin live in Milwaukee. (Most of the rest are in Beloit, Kenosha, Racine and Madison). A large percentage of that 75% are not getting good educations in the city of Milwaukee, which is surrounded by suburban high schools which offer quite good education.

We can argue until we are blue in the face why this is so. The point is it must be fixed. Until we do that, all the programs at the college level will be divisive and of limited success.

Marshal said...

Summary:

Race preferences are ineffective.

Question:

So how can they be a compelling state interest sufficient to allow this violation of the right to equal protection?

t-man said...

"In 2003, the percentage of total minority students that were admitted was 62.4 whereas 50.7 were admitted in 2013"

Here's a question the reporter either didn't ask, or didn't print: What is the percentage of non-minority students admitted?

I honestly don't know the answer, but suspect that if it was anywhere close to 50%, that fact would have been highlighted and reported.

t-man said...

Also, as others have pointed out the 50.7 percent admissions rate should only be equal for minorities and non-minorities if the two groups had comparable qualifications.

jimbino said...

Affirmative Action still sucks.

I graduated almost 4.0 and a National Merit Scholar.

Years later I gained an AA scholarship in law school for having been born in Paraguay.

I'm white, Irish, born with an educational silver spoon, and never have been in dire need of a scholarship.

Scholarships, like National Parks and Forests, represent theft from your tired, your poor, and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free in order to support the lifestyle of the rich old white male.

Since Obama took his family to the Grand Canyon some 5 years ago, nary a Black has been seen there.



Matt said...

Jane, I don't have answers for all of your questions but I'll answer those I can.

"Really?"

Yes. If need be, I'd testify to the fact under oath subject to the laws of perjury.

"You make it into a 'name-brand' school but you can't get into the course of study you want? Why are places limited?"

It is a high demand major. Since most (many? some?) students don't know what they want to major in when they start, having it as a junior-senior program makes sense. Plus, it places the students on an even playing field with regards to admissions. They are all establishing their GPA taking (mostly) the same courses. Though, the differing GPA requirements does tilt the playing field dramatically.

"If the restriction is because the subject is exceptionally rigorous, then what rationale can there possibly be for lower admission requirements for preferred minorities?"

Business major is not particularly rigorous. More so than most liberal arts majors, less so than the hard sciences.

The rationale for the lower standards is the one that is commonly used everywhere Affirmative Action programs are in place but there is one additional rationale here. Because of the laws in place regarding employment of minorities, businesses that recruit at the UW (and other business schools) have a high demand for minority graduates and placed pressure on the school to produce them. The administration didn't HAVE to have lower standards but higher numbers of minority students increases the school's prestige and, thus, incoming money flow.

Even with the lower GPA requirement, the school struggled to meet their targets.

David said...

Here is how Gloria Ladson-Billings divides up the world (from her Facebook page).

We are heading in to a New Year--2013 or are we heading into the same old year on a different day--January 1. Nothing that has happened on the national scene regarding legislation makes me feel like the people who hate the people will exhibit a change of heart. Thus, the people who love the people have an obligation to stay engaged...work harder, love more, and trust the power of the people can overcome greedy corporations and $300 million dollars worth of mudslinging and lies.

Unknown said...

according to wiki, Wisconsin is 86% white.

Crunchy Frog said...

The only "narrative of fear" that exists is that of this AA hire losing her sinecure job due to everyone waking up to how much of a waste of oxygen she really is.

Anglelyne said...

t-man: Here's a question the reporter either didn't ask, or didn't print: What is the percentage of non-minority students admitted?

I honestly don't know the answer, but suspect that if it was anywhere close to 50%, that fact would have been highlighted and reported.


I was curious about that, too, so I googled it up. Here's the data. Scroll down to page 4 (for race/ethnicity detail), and page 5 for "targeted minority" vs. "non-targeted minority" detail. (I think I just learned a new euphemism.)

I think it's just sloppy reporting and lousy writing.

lgv said...

"The state is mostly white, so the demographics of UW should pretty much match it."

Ummm, no. How about matching the demographics of qualified applicants?

Are Hispanics included in white?

Rusty said...

Angelyne beat me to it.

The motto of the department of education.
"We're better than the Department of Phys Ed."

Peter said...

"Santiago Chavez, a sophomore at UW and scholar in the Powers-Knapp Scholarship Program, said his place at the university is not defined by the color of his skin.

'My racial background should not be the explanation for why I am here,” Chavez said. “It is just really disheartening when someone thinks I took the place of a more deserving white person.' "


If so, I would expect that Chavez would be fiercely opposed to all forms of affirmative action. Yet the author offers this as an example of why affirmative action is good?



" 'It is important to not merely isolate affirmative action policy but to put it in the larger context of a narrative of fear that suggests that some people are advancing that ‘should not be advancing’ while others are ‘losing ground,‘' Ladson-Billings said."

But Ladson-Billings is the author of the narrative!



What an article like this shows perhaps is how difficult it can be to construct a coherent, rational argument that supports affirmative action. Although it's possible that the author is just not very good at constructing such arguments.

fivewheels said...

Young Mr. Chavez says: "It is just really disheartening when someone thinks I took the place of a more deserving white person."

a) Hey, you know how you can eliminate that problem completely?

b) Please examine the underlying morality of finding it disheartening for someone to think that this happens ... but if it actually does happen you don't give a damn.

n.n said...

Their vision is characteristically monochromatic. They are blind to the full spectrum of individuals which inhabit this world. In fact, they miss the individual for the diverse classes they concoct.

tim in vermont said...

"how much of a waste of oxygen she really is."

And yet you post here. Would you mind explaining why? I am genuinely curious.

Paco Wové said...

"Are Hispanics included in white? "

Depends. Which axe are you trying to grind?

Big Mike said...

“My racial background should not be the explanation for why I am here,” Chavez said. “It is just really disheartening when someone thinks I took the place of a more deserving white person.”

Prepare to be disenheartened.

Jane the Actuary said...

So, Matt, back to the limits on business school majors -- why not just let everyone who wants to, major in business? It would seem to be worse, as far as students are concerned, to attend the school for two years and then find out they can't continue in their major field, and need to transfer somewhere, than to just attend somewhere else in the first place.

Matt said...

Jane, limited resources is the simplest answer. There need to be enough desks, instructors, etc. But even that answer is just speculation on my part. I was not in the know enough to know the particulars for why the enrollment was limited. It is quite possible that limitations became necessary simply because interest in business grew faster than the school could respond.

For those students who could not make it into the program, we had a list of alternate majors in other parts of the university that they could pursue (e.g. econ). Transfer was also an option.

chickenlittle said...

85% white sounds about right
Why the fight?

Fernandinande said...

Sorun said...
Gloria Ladson-Billings is probably an affirmative action hire.

Definitely.

Real American said...
Gloria Ladson-Billings and her type advocate blatant racial discrimination, pure and simple.

That's a tautology since "her type" = the real racists.

David said...

"For those students who could not make it into the program, we had a list of alternate majors in other parts of the university that they could pursue (e.g. econ)."

That must have been helpful. Are you saying that the school of business was harder (or harder to gain entry to) than the econ department? That would be a surprise.

Unknown said...

---the university is 0.4% whiter than the state as a whole

Four tenths of 1 percent? What is that 25 students?

Jane the Actuary said...

OK, Matt -- sorry to keep pushing on this (and at some point you don't really know the answer) but this still doesn't make sense. Maybe some other reader (though on an increasingly stale thread) knows.

A student who's been denied admission to the business department and majors in econ instead is still going to need to take exactly as many classes, need exactly as many desks, instructors, etc., over the course of their remaining two years of college as otherwise.

Since business school desks aren't made of rare-earth metals and of limited number, there's got to be a tangible reason. My current guess is that business school instructors cost more because the "those who can't, teach" aphorism isn't really true, and the business school has to lure teachers away from otherwise well-paying careers at higher salaries than those professors in fields where there really is no alternate career.

If this is true, and if the School of Business chooses not to charge additional tuition to the degree necessary to cover these extra costs (and a quick check online says these students pay an extra $1,000), so that the university as a whole has to subsidize them, then I suppose I can see restricting the number of admissions to keep costs under control, though it would seem a better choice to charge the true differential or at least closer to it.

Sam L. said...

0.4% whiter, eh? Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Assuming a student population of 20,000, and 83.2% white, looks like there are 66 or 67 too many white kids.
At 27833 (spring semester undergrads), that's 92 or 93.

I. Am. Properly. Horrified!

Matt said...

It is true; I do not have the answers to your questions. The best I can do is speculate. One possibility is that GPA is an easier, faster criteria to change than tuition. I do not know the mechanics required to change tuition within the School of Business but I do know that the GPA requirement was something established internally. (To the best of my recollection, I was not in those meetings but recall those occurring as the decisions made at those impacted how we did our job whereas tuition changes would not.)

I'm not sure what you mean by it "doesn't make sense". While a desk can be moved, the building itself has limited space. Other schools at the university would need to reduce their available space to accommodate overflow. Which school would be willing to? For how long? What type of negotiations would need to take place? And that is just about locating a class. There other issues that would need to be addressed like, as you alluded to, securing an instructor for the class.

The university is not necessarily a nimble organization. It is a big bureaucracy within which certain changes are take longer and are more arduous to implement. Changing the guaranteed GPA for admittance is one of the easier and faster changes that can be implemented (as far as I know). As such, it makes sense that that is the first tool used to stabilize enrollment.

But even that has its own lag. If I remember correctly, the guaranteed GPA was established about a year before the next class of freshmen would arrive, thus, the interval between the establishment of the guaranteed GPA and when those students would be admitted to the School was about three years. The faculty and staff who established the GPA had to anticipate what the demand would be three years into the future. It was an imperfect science and, as it was, at the time I worked there, demand had increased faster than anticipated. The school was over enrolled and operating beyond its budget and capacity.

It appears to me that it doesn't make sense to you because the school did not operate at peak efficiency. (Please, correct me if I am misreading you.) I ask, what is peak efficiency for a government bureaucracy that is trying to anticipate changes to demand of services three years into the future?

The Crack Emcee said...

mike,

"To stop government-sponsored racism, the government must stop treating citizens differently based on race."

After 400 years of doing just that?

Yeah, that'll fix things right up,...

Owen said...

Matt: very helpful description about the program. Agree that GPA --a parameter that is always known by the school management to any number of decimal places-- is an exquisitely precise "throttle" to control the number of admits to the program. But, as you say, it is a retrospective and time-lagged tool, so you get the overshoot/undershoot problem.

fivewheels said...

Crack, maybe it doesn't fix things right up. But then you can't say you're really against government-sponsored racism.

Of course, there's no requirement that you have to say that or want that. If you're really enthusiastic about screwing over Asian kids as hard as possible, then go to town, and advocate away. Just don't pretend that's not what you're doing and what you're advocating: Fucking over completely innocent kids who don't deserve it. A hundred million Democrats can't be wrong, can they?

Hyphenated American said...

""To stop government-sponsored racism, the government must stop treating citizens differently based on race."

After 400 years of doing just that?

Yeah, that'll fix things right up,..."

It's amazing that American Asians, who were discriminated in US for longer than blacks (for at least 1/2 a century) are the ones most discriminated by Crack and his ilk - and yet, they still succeed.

Why? Liberals refuse to answer. It's one thing for Crack to whine about slavery that ended 150 years ago, and it's quite another to confront the facts of today's America. The truth makes him feel bad, so ignores it.

grackle said...

It’s the way Washington does a lot of things: by misdirection. You don’t put specific language in the legislation that would frighten or anger the public, you simply include provisions in the bill that will insure that whatever you want to happen is certain of achievement, albeit indirectly. It’s also a nice touch if you can ascribe, falsely of course, ostensibly benign or even noble purposes to the bogus provisions.

Affirmative action is like this: A citizen, obviously guilty because of the abundance of evidence, is on trial for murder. There is a fair trial and the jury arrives at a verdict – which is "guilty."

Handing down the penalty the judge, instead of reading it to the defendant propped up in a chair, who is dead and has been dead throughout the long trial, picks out half of the courtroom onlookers at random and condemns them and their offspring for generations to the penalty.

That is affirmative action and it also applies to Obamacare. Look for the word, “quota,” in the various laws regarding affirmative action and you will see it only in the context of cautioning against or denying its legitimacy(“be it known that this law is not intended to set up quotas, etc,”), yet quotas are what we have. And with Obamacare it has been the same.

Jane the Actuary said...

So this is a really stale thread, but still:

University bureaucracies must be, well, rather bureaucratic.

If you've got, say, 50 or 100 prospective students who change their major from business to econ because they couldn't get into the business program, then there still have to be 50/100 slots for them in 4 classes per semester each. (Or do business classes have small class sizes, and econ classes don't, so you can accomodate more econ majors but not more business majors?)

If the departments are so compartmentalized that all business classes must take place in the Business building, and all econ classes in the econ building, well, that's flaky. And if this is a longstanding problem, in which every year, large numbers of prospective juniors are turned away, then this isn't an issue of turning on a dime but long-term hiring practices.

And now I'll shut up about this.

Matt said...

Hi Jane,

I've been keeping the tab open just in case and checking back on occasion...

Most of what follows is speculative.

One factor that complicates matters is the variable demand for a business major. My understanding is that it changes with the business cycles. Boom times mean more people wanting to major in Business. Lean times means more people major in *shrugs* Social Work? At the time I was there and witnessed the rapid increase in the GPA requirement it was the same time as the initial dot-com bubble. I am reasonably certain that those days led to more people wanting a Business degree.

While accommodations likely could be made to have students take a business class in another building that is still more complicated to manage than just having them within the School of Business' own building. A larger complication regards who will teach the course. While rooms and desks are subject neutral, the instructors are highly specialized. If demand is cyclical, hiring a lot of professors who may end up tenured can really mess up a budget. If 1800 students major in Business but a few years later a recession decreases the number to 1200, all those professors are still getting paid.

Another possible factor could be the budget. I really do not know how closely tuition translates to the expenses of the individual school within the university. It is possible that the per pupil revenues from higher enrollment does not change proportionally. Thus, while you may have 1800 students instead of, say, 1200, you are not necessarily getting 50% more money to offset the costs. If the increase in cost is even linear… again, this is total speculation on my part. It is also distinctly possible that the University is simply poorly run and terribly inefficient.

At any rate, there are a lot of variables that impact why things are the way they are. The biggest factor is probably something I haven’t even considered. (It’s all Governor Walker’s fault!)

One important thing to note (or reiterate) is that the GPA required for admission is established for students before they even enroll at the University. Thus, a student will know before they arrive on campus just what they need to achieve if they wish to get into the School of Business as a junior. In that regards, it is an abundantly fair system. As a result, students aren’t generally “turned away” from the major. They know ahead of time whether they are going to make it or not. If you need a 3.20 and get a 2.50 your freshman year, then you have a pretty good idea that you are going to have to go in a different direction. (One “app” I made when I worked there was a GPA calculator that allowed students to see how well they would need to perform with a certain number of credits to get to their target GPA. We tried very hard to let students know where they were and what they needed to do.)

Where the “abundantly fair system” breaks down is where students either need to get a 3.20 GPA or a 2.50 GPA based upon nothing more than their race. Where it breaks down even further is when a student is admitted at the lower GPA, struggles mightily against the stronger competition and finds their GPA drop so far that, despite completing all of the coursework, their GPA is below the minimum required for graduation by the University. Yes, that did happen to one student while I was there. I calculated the GPA this student would need to get going forward to reach the minimum requirement. As I recall, it was four semesters of 4.00. This after already completing 150 credits of work. (120 is the minimum to graduate.)

Matt said...

David,

Sorry, I missed your question. I am not sure what the requirements were for an Economics major at that time. Without looking it up, as I recall Economics is in the College of Letters & Sciences at UW. Almost all students applying to get into the School of Business were already in L&S, thus, failure to get into the School of Business meant they were much closer to Econ as a major than Economics.

The course requirements to graduate with an Economics major very well may have been more rigorous; however, mostly due to supply and demand for differing majors, starting the pursuit of an Economics major would have been easier.

According to this...

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/econ/undergrad/Declaring.html

...yes, it is easier to pursue an Econ major. One needs only a 2.00 GPA to get in whereas to even apply to Business School requires a 2.75 GPA. It is unclear what the required GPA is for guaranteed admission. For all I know, they have stopped advertising the number altogether.

Also, that 2.75 GPA may or may not apply to targeted minorities. At the time I was there, there were talks of raising the 2.50 GPA requirement as it was such a substantial difference.

With that said, the 2.50 GPA for guaranteed admission for targeted minorities was not advertised anywhere. Targeted students would learn of the lower GPA at the time they met with the minority student advisor.