U. of Michigan decides equal opportunity still sucks...

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steven-lamp
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U. of Michigan decides equal opportunity still sucks...

Post by steven-lamp »

http://www.umich.edu/pres/speeches/061103div.html

Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment voted on (and passed) in a referendum during the latest elections in Michigan, effectively bans affirmative action for public institutions (employment, government, etc.). Despite the fact that Michigan's citizens APPROVED the measure, University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman pledges that she and the university will "fight for what we believe in, and that is holding open the doors of this university to all people." In the speech Coleman declares that the University's admissions standards will employ the same criteria as it has in the past (affirmative action), and will basically ignore the newly passed constitutional amendment. Since there are a few Michigan students on the forum: How do you all feel about your school's policies, and do you think that the president of your university will actually defy the state constitution to continue using affirmative action?
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

As a white male currently applying to Michigan's law school, I was quite in favor of that particular amendment, and I frown at the school's attempts to circumvent this.

Objectively, however, I think that we have a need for affirmative action. Certain segments of our society have clearly been put at a disadvantage by past abuses, and that'd led to a level of inequality that is not only morally wrong, not only bad for society, but also bad for the economy. Something has to be done about it.

If you're going to argue against affirmative action, try to at least take that into consideration and perhaps couple it with your proposal for how we should solve that problem instead. Because I don't think leaving it alone is a good thing.

As for the policy itself, I'm sure there's some way to force Michigan to comply with the amendment; e.g. suing them or something.
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Post by cvdwightw »

Don't worry, there are enough hissy Californians upset at the disproportionate representation of Asians in the UC system to ensure that seventeen separate proposed solutions to the affirmative action problem get put on the next ballot.
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Post by Rothlover »

Now schools just need to fix the other 2840423450 problems that keep them from being a decent way to spend four years.
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Post by steven-lamp »

Bruce wrote:Objectively, however, I think that we have a need for affirmative action. Certain segments of our society have clearly been put at a disadvantage by past abuses, and that'd led to a level of inequality that is not only morally wrong, not only bad for society, but also bad for the economy. Something has to be done about it.

If you're going to argue against affirmative action, try to at least take that into consideration and perhaps couple it with your proposal for how we should solve that problem instead. Because I don't think leaving it alone is a good thing.
Objectively, affirmative action seeks to compensate for group discrepancies through individual measures. Individuals are placed on an unequal basis in an attempt to rectify group disparity. The conditions affirmative action seeks to redress are the income gaps and perceived social divisions between distinct "groups" in society. Affirmative action in any form is detestable, because it penalizes one individual directly for the circumstances of another individual's situation, despite the fact that the penalized individual in no way had anything whatsoever to do with the benefitted individual's postion. Racial affirmative action is the MOST abhorrent form, because it penalizes and rewards ENTIRELY random (or, unchosen if you prefer that term) factors based on perceived connections between race and class or economic standing.

"Solving" the problem of group disparities could be much more easily and fairly addressed by admitting only qualified students and then providing financial aid to those that require it. One may think that this would encourage all lower-income people to aim for higher education, but what's wrong with that? As, collectively, lower-income segments of the population become more educated, they will possess a greater ability to progress towards higher income levels. The skin color, ethnic group, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc makes absolutely no difference in the system, so long as the beneficiary of said system improves. Any sort of communitarian assumption that a group must be subsidized/improved in order for its constituent individuals to improve is not only false, but unjust. By providing an unequal foundation and intial distribution of "points" to someone in a system based upon characteristics like ethnicity, race, etc., one inherently disadvantages those who were not so lucky as to be born or a part of said group.
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Post by wwellington »

and intial distribution of "points" to someone in a system based upon characteristics like ethnicity, race, etc
I'm pretty sure Michigan stopped doing that already.
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Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

On paper, at least. It's still "a factor" in admission standards, whatever we're supposed to think that means...
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Post by steven-lamp »

wwellington wrote:
and intial distribution of "points" to someone in a system based upon characteristics like ethnicity, race, etc
I'm pretty sure Michigan stopped doing that already.

Whether or not points are there is irrelevant: Race is still a quantified value in their admissions standards, just like SAT scores, GPA, admissions essays, recommendations, etc.
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Post by STPickrell »

Here is my question. Why should a Black from the best schools of Fairfax County be given a greater advantage that some White coal miner's son/daughter from Dickenson County?

While a Black from Fairfax may not be as "advantaged" as a White from Fairfax, I'd certainly rate the Black from Fairfax as being better off in terms of opportunity, etc., than the White from Dickenson County.

(for the record: Fairfax County = lots of money, Dickenson County = lots of coal and not much money.)

I remember reading about the UC system assigning each high school a "point value" on the basis of dropout rates, test scores, etc. This was after they were told to stop using race as a factor in college admissions. I'd have no problem with assigning a modifier based on race and other factors (single parentage, etc.)
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Post by grapesmoker »

StPickrell wrote:I remember reading about the UC system assigning each high school a "point value" on the basis of dropout rates, test scores, etc. This was after they were told to stop using race as a factor in college admissions. I'd have no problem with assigning a modifier based on race and other factors (single parentage, etc.)
It's one thing when you look at other factors that affect a person's performance in school, such as the economic environment they came from and what opportunities were offered at their schools. There are plenty of people who could succeed if given the right tools, and I have no problem with admitting them even if they don't look as good on paper. But to presume that there is an obligation to admit some people based on no other factor than the color of their skin, to me seems totally contrary to the ideal that people should be judged in light of their achievements, and thus inherently unfair.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

steven-lamp wrote:..."Solving" the problem of group disparities could be much more easily and fairly addressed by admitting only qualified students and then providing financial aid to those that require it.
The weakness in your argument is that it begs the question of what a qualified student is and how one becomes one. Certain people (for example. low-income people or people denied access to appropriate schooling) have been denied an equal opportunity to become qualified students due to factors entirely out of their own control (random or unchosen factors, to use your terms.) That's a measurable fact.
So the question is what do you do about that? I certainly don't think affirmative action is the answer for a wide variety of reasons, some of which you bring-up.

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Post by steven-lamp »

ImmaculateDeception wrote:
steven-lamp wrote:..."Solving" the problem of group disparities could be much more easily and fairly addressed by admitting only qualified students and then providing financial aid to those that require it.
The weakness in your argument is that it begs the question of what a qualified student is and how one becomes one. Certain people (for example. low-income people or people denied access to appropriate schooling) have been denied an equal opportunity to become qualified students due to factors entirely out of their own control (random or unchosen factors, to use your terms.) That's a measurable fact.
So the question is what do you do about that? I certainly don't think affirmative action is the answer for a wide variety of reasons, some of which you bring-up.

MaS
You bring up a good point, and certainly there are factors along the way that would prohibit equal standards of education. However, this is not the case for entire racial or ethnic groups, as is clearly evident. Therefore, it still makes no sense for a system to arbitrarily reward and punish individuals to "normalize" a group. I think the key point in the debate is whether one is communitarian or individualist in approach.
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Post by Stained Diviner »

Law Schools need to decide whether they want about 2-3% of their students to be African Americans, which is about what they get without Affirmative Action, or about 6-8% of their students, which is about what they get with Affirmative Action. As stated above, there are many reasons why African Americans apply to Law Schools in lesser numbers than White Americans. One simple reason is that fewer of them have parents that are lawyers.

Race is an important issue in American Law. (Affirmative Action is but one example of an issue that is race-based. Of course there are also a lot of issues that are not related to Race.) If Law Schools want issues discussed when there is more than one African American in the room, which they do, then they need Affirmative Action.

Law Schools also have an interest in taking in students from different Economic Classes, but they don't do that as much because they want rich people's money. Affirmative Action is unfair because of the advantages it gives to Upper Middle Class African Americans, but in my opinion the benefit outweighs the cost.

Another downfall is the resentment it causes. Ten African Americans take up slots because of Affirmative Action, and five hundred Whites get upset because they think those slots would have been theirs. It's similar to Handicapped Parking--everyone thinks they would have gotten the best spot if it wasn't for the sign, but the spot probably would have been taken by somebody else if it wasn't for the sign.
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Post by Tegan »

ReinsteinD wrote: Another downfall is the resentment it causes.
I wish this weren't true, but I have seen it in my own family ...... some African-American person likely gets cheated/swindeled out of something, and rather than seeing them as sa human being who got cheeted, the reply is "well ..... that balances out the affirmative action that they get."

Pretty sad!
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Post by Captain Sinico »

steven-lamp wrote:You bring up a good point, and certainly there are factors along the way that would prohibit equal standards of education. However, this is not the case for entire racial or ethnic groups, as is clearly evident.
Ah, but that's not clearly evident. Some of the factors that lead to education inequality are strongly correlated with race or ethnicity.

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Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

"Strongly correlated" does not equal "entire." Besides, to assume all blacks, or hispanics, or any group, are poor and invariably need a favor to become competitive with whites is degrading and a form of stereotyping. So if we are to take socioeconomic status as a separate factor and give consideration to students who come from a bad situation, but at the same time remain colorblind about it, then the only reason left to give people an advantage because of race is history. Those who advocate affirmative action might have some credibility in this regard if they weren't so inconsistent and hypocritical. If someone of Chinese descent has a family that traces its roots to the early immigrants to California, he or she is usually afforded no extra consideration on the basis of race in college applications, but a black person is (even if they come from a wealthy family, or one that recently immigrated from Africa). Even if said Asian applicant's great grandparents were de facto slaves working as railroad coolies, it doesn't matter; colleges view this applicant as fully competent and able to get into universities on his or her own merit, whereas the black applicant is assumed to be in need of an automatic leg up to be on par with other applicants and with the rest of society in general. This assumption is probably often based on the racist notion that as an entire race black people are less intelligent.

So Mike, you are saying that because of a stronger correlation to poor socioeconomic status than in other races, we ought to use affirmative action to give blacks a leg up, right? Does that mean that out of mere convenience, we should disregard the socioeconomic conditions of people from other races and assume the poor people are the black people, just because of a statistical trend? If not, then why should there be any affirmative action based on race? Why not just look at the situations people came out of, as others in this thread suggested?
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