December 29, 2009

Boundaries for Affirmative Action

Justin Katz

Yup. That's the habit of academia... always in need of correction for favoring men:

A federal civil rights agency investigating possible gender discrimination in college admissions will subpoena data from more than a dozen mid-Atlantic universities, officials said Thursday.

The probe by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is focusing on whether some colleges favor men by admitting them at higher rates than women, or by offering them more generous aid packages.

But hold on:

Women outnumber men nearly 60 percent to 40 percent in higher education nationally. The probe grew out of anecdotal evidence and news accounts that admissions officials are discriminating against women to promote a more even gender mix, said commission spokeswoman Lenore Ostrowsky.

Apparently, it was insufficiently understood that "diversity" and other such post-'60s shibboleths are race- and gender-specific. Hetero white men are overrepresented by their very existence.

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I guess the pendulum was never intended to just swing down to the middle and stop!

Posted by: John at December 29, 2009 11:57 AM

This is precisely the destructive effect that affirmative action has - it turns everybody into a racially hypersensitive paranoid schizophrenic and nobody knows where anybody stands anymore, everybody accusing everybody. It really is the quintessential two wrongs not making a right story, a misguided, vile, counterproductive continuation of the cycle of resentment and distrust in this country that otherwise would have died out years ago. It also corrupts and confuses the newer generations (nobody is born hateful or a racist) by simultaneously telling them that everyone should be treated on their merits and race and sex don't matter, and then either giving them handouts or stripping them of positions based upon their own race and sex.

Most of its current effects stem from the nonsensical and atrocious Grutter v. Bollinger decision in which some extremely misguided members of the Supreme Court analyzed affirmative action under an intermediate scrutiny standard while purporting to analyze it under a strict scrutiny standard at the same time, an indefensible move that has confused legal scholars and law professors to no end. It also incorrectly drew a distinction between a soft quota and a hard quota, which any statistician or mathematician can tell you are in reality mathematically and functionally identical (the school's attorney was completely stumped on that question in oral arguments).

The horror stories that overzealous "diversity" organizations and affirmative action policies have had in my current program are too many to list. Most people don't understand how bad it's actually gotten in professional programs where competition for a select few spots is fierce to begin with. It's not a stretch to say that affirmative action has turned many otherwise balanced and egalitarian young adults into hateful racists.

Posted by: Dan at December 29, 2009 12:35 PM

Using precedents drawn from civil rights histopry, I think an argument could be constructed to require colleges to seek gender equality.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 29, 2009 3:22 PM


Looking for clarification here...

You do oppose colleges giving preference to males in admission rather than basing decisions solely on considerations of merit, right?

Since women are better students (get better grades, complete high school more frequently, etc), the only way to equalize admissions is some sort of "affirmative action" plan for men. I understood that you oppose all such programs on principle.

Posted by: thomas Schmeling at December 29, 2009 9:41 PM

I cannot fathom what, in this post, gives you the notion that my objection to affirmative action has been diluted, unless (of course) the notion derives from something not in this post.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 29, 2009 10:12 PM

It might have been this:

"always in need of correction for favoring men".

which implies that favoring men should not need correction.

If your point was not to suggest that it is NOT wrong to favor males in college admission, just what was your point.

Perhaps if you just wrote more clearly?

Also, nothing in the article had anything to do with sexual orientation, yet you felt the need to mention "hetero" white men. So it's possible that you are correct and there are influences here that go beyond what's obvious.

Posted by: thomas Schmeling at December 29, 2009 11:06 PM

I like what the US Census Bureau has to say! The USA will no longer have a white majority in year 2050.

Smith College in Northampton. MA motto is "Where a women's mind matters". The present president of Brown University is the former president of Smith College. Believe it or not guys, women do rule because guys don't think and women think, remember and network with other women (I was married 35 years before becoming a widower).

Since I moved out of RI to HI (the most ethnically diverse state in the nation) I have been unbelievably educated in diversity more so than in RI. I am a Governor Carcieri appointed RI diversity ambassador and nothing I was taught in RI on diversity is matching up or positive with living in HI (all RI was lip service).

In HI people are judged on what they individually bring to the table both females and males.

There is no ethnic or sex majority in HI.

All people are considered a minority and there are no ethnic neighborhoods.

Everyone lives together regardless of financial status (one investor gives out his million dollar homes (6) for free in a lottery for homeless families to live in).

That's part of the reason why HI is call paradise!

Posted by: Ken at December 30, 2009 2:33 AM


No, it implies that favoring men is not exactly something that colleges and universities are infamous for, witness the ratio cited subsequently. The point is that the affirmative action mentality isn't really about fair proportion, but about promoting people who are not (in the cliché) hetero white men; diversity, that is, means disproportionate representation of groups labeled "diverse."

As far as I can tell, you're the only reader who didn't catch my meaning. Perhaps it's a limitation of your famous and consuming non-partisan, non-ideological purity.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 30, 2009 5:23 AM

Tom wrote: "It might have been this:

"always in need of correction for favoring men".

which implies that favoring men should not need correction.

If your point was not to suggest that it is NOT wrong to favor males in college admission, just what was your point.

Perhaps if you just wrote more clearly?

Also, nothing in the article had anything to do with sexual orientation, yet you felt the need to mention "hetero" white men. So it's possible that you are correct and there are influences here that go beyond what's obvious."

Tom, your intentional misrepresentation of Justin's clear meaning is a fine example of your intellectual dishonesty.

Posted by: BobN at December 31, 2009 9:46 AM


I honestly still do not understand what Justin's point is here. Maybe I'm dim, but when it comes to accusations of intellectual dishonesty, you saying it does not make it so. I hope you'll be ready to back it up with specifics. (even if you do it from beyond your shelter as the anonymous "BobN").

Here is what I believe is going on:

1. Females have outnumbered males in college admissions and graduations for a while now. This is NOT a consequence of policies favoring females. It is a consequence of the fact that females graduate high school at higher rates, and are better students. Males do slightly better on the SAT, but not enough to outweigh grades and graduation rates. Bottom line, females are probably no smarter than males, but they are better students than males. (BTW, as a college professor, I would rather have a 130 IQ student who works hard than a 140 IQ slacker, and I would certainly write a stronger job recommendation for the former than the latter).

I would never say this phenomenon is occurring because females are smarter. It's largely a cultural phenomenon. We (as a society) don't teach our sons that intellectual achievement is valuable. To see how important this is, witness that Jews are highly over-represented in academics, not because they are smarter than everyone else but because of a culture that says that being learned is "cool". The American male culture/media does NOT send that message to our boys. I see it in my classroom every day.

2. Until you change the culture that produces studious girls and slacker boys, there is no way to achieve a parity of men and women in college without "affirmative action for boys". This is what a number of colleges are apparently doing now, and this is what the Commission on Civil Rights is investigating. (NOTE: NOT prosecuting or challenging, but investigating. If you believe that individuals should be judged as individuals; if you reject "group rights" and reject affirmative action policies that give points for group identity rather than individual achievement (as I believe Justin does) you should reject "affirmative action for boys".

Do you?

When we're done with this, we can talk about the G.I. bill, which changed a relatively 50/50 male female college population into a overwhelmingly male dominated one.

Meanwhile, tell me again why I am "intellectually dishonest".

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at December 31, 2009 7:21 PM

As somebody of Jewish background,I must say I've never seen a group of people more "book smart,life stupid"than Jewish academics-nothing to do with their religion at all-few of them are really religious.I think many of them have a "red diaper baby"syndrome,but never actually experienced the hardships some of their 1930's radical parents may have.
I don't extend ths observation to academics in the hard sciences(NOT "bioethics")or medicine.
More along the lines of liberal arts disciplines.
Michael Savage(True Name:Michael Weiner)has noticed exactly the same thing.This group of people voted in lcokstep for Obama even when faced with the ugly truth of his long association with the raving Jew hater Reverend Wright(oh,yeah it's just the "Zionists"he hates-right!!).

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 1, 2010 12:36 AM
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