In a comment on this post below, Chetly Zarko, one of the leaders of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and a frequent commenter here, points to this fascinating article in the Michigan Daily. Drop whatever you’re doing and go read it now (because if you don’t I’ll have to quote the whole thing, and that’s not cool).
The University of Michigan believes (and in this belief it is typical, not unique) that “diversity” is so important that those it deems “underrepresented minorities” are judged by different admissions standards (but only admissions?) from whites and minorities who are not regarded as “underrepresented,” such as Asians and others.
The predictable, inevitable, and indeed intended effect of this double standard is that a significant number of minorities are admitted — and a significant number of whites, Asians, and others are not admitted — because of their race or ethnicity. Because many defenders of racial preference attempt to deny or evade this fundamental fact, let me restate it: if all applicants to selective schools with preference policies were judged by the same standard, many minority applicants who are now admitted under the reign of “diversity” would not be, and many white and non-preferred minority applicants who are now rejected would be admitted. Reasonable people can disagree over whether or not this is a Good Thing, but not over whether or not it is true.
But once admitted, a number of “diversity” dilemmas raise their ugly heads. If colorblind admissions is discriminatory, why not colorblind grading? What’s the point of grading on a colorblind, neutral scale students who were not admitted under the same standard? Wouldn’t (doesn’t?) colorblind grading result in a “disproportionate” number of preferentially admitted students flunking out?
Moving on, since “diversity” — being exposed to the “difference” of others — is the stated rationale of racially preferential admissions, shouldn’t there be a ceiling on the number of black students allowed into any particular class? And shouldn’t white students be assigned to at least a minimum number of classes containing at least a minimum number of blacks? I realize this smacks of racial assignments, but then the Michigans have already demonstrated that they have no principled objection to admitting and rejecting students on the basis of race, so why not assigning?
And then there’s the matter of housing, the cause of the current “diversity”-based discomfort at Michigan. It seems that the black students there have a tendency to self-segregate, thus depriving their peers of the advantages — no, the absolute necessity, to listen to Michigan administrators — of being exposed to them. I mean, how selfish can you get, choosing to live among your friends rather than with people who need to be exposed to you? Since Michigan has justified lowering its standards to admit some minorities instead of the non-minorities who would otherwise have been admitted based on the advantages to others the preferentially admitted will provide, shouldn’t it assign those students to dorms where they will do the most good?
The mind of Michigan is divided by and troubled over this issue. On one hand, as the Michigan Daily reports in the article linked above,
Patricia Pacania, director of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, said she thinks the University still does not have a large enough population of minority students to achieve a critical mass. Pacania said this creates a need for minority students to self-segregate in residence halls and said she thinks the University should allow this clustering to happen. “To just sprinkle students in dorms, knowing that we have not achieved that critical mass … I don’t think that that’s effective,” she said….
Pacania said she worries that spreading minority students throughout all the dorms, rather than allowing them to form communities, would “add another set of stress upon students of color.”
“I think to primarily look to students of color to say ‘educate me’ is an unfair burden, and I don’t think that’s something we as a University should ask of students,” she said. “And students of color also need opportunities to have a living space where they don’t feel like they always have to educate other people or don’t have to always justify themselves or explain themselves.”
But on the other…
University President Mary Sue Coleman said that while she understands the desire of minority students to live together, she believes a more diverse living experience is desirable.
“I would think that one of the huge values of being in a University setting is being able to get acquainted with people from a different background or different race, and I encourage students to really pursue that. I think it’s important. It’s one of the great things we offer at the University of Michigan,” she said. “I would hope that we can continue to find ways to get to people to mix themselves up.”
Ah, there’s the rub. Coleman must be a residual believer in individual choice, for what she wants to do is “find ways to get people to mix themselves up.” This is necessary, for as “housing spokesman Alan Levy” explains,
the process of housing application and assignment is done without racial information, meaning the uneven distribution of minorities in the dorms is not a product of the housing assignment process.
If Coleman really believed what she says in justifying preferential admissions, she’d bite the bullet and mix the students up herself.
Chetly Zarko points to the evasive and disingenuous answers regarding residential segregation in the dormitorites Michigan attorney John Payton gave to Justice Scalia during the oral argument in Gratz.