California Regents To Study Effects Of Equality

The regents of the University of California are still having trouble adjusting to equality. Now that Proposition 209 is ten years old, they are planning to study “the effect” of having to treat applicants of all races equally.

Here are some things they might consider in their study.

1. Clearly Prop. 209 has reduced the percentage of admitted freshmen to Berkeley and UCLA who are blacks or Hispanics. No news there. But it would be highly relevant to chart the trend over the last 10 years (since passage of 209) of the minority YIELD: what percentage of those minorities who were admitted to Berkeley and UCLA chose to attend.

A) Since those admitted minorities were at the top of the heap, they were no doubt heavily recruited by other schools, and so it would not be surprising if the yield declined below what it had been when a less select group of minorities were admitted.

B) If the yield has declined over the past 10 years, that is not the result of 209. That is, 209 didn’t keep those who were admitted but chose not to attend from attending. That was their own choice. [Not altogether frivolous aside: If “diversity” is as important as its advocates claim, draft them! Why should they be allowed to choose not to attend a college that needs them so much when K-12 students who want to attend a different school from the one to which they are assigned are often held hostage to “diversity,” i.e., not allowed to transfer because their leaving would deprive the remaining students of the advantage provided by being exposed to them. I’ve written about some of these cases that are truly mind-boggling, such as an Asian American kid not being allowed to transfer to an elementary school with a French immersion program. I’ve discussed this and other “hostage to diversity” cases here.]

2. What are, and what explains, the differences between Berkeley and UCLA on a) the percentage of minority admits and b) the yield from those admits? If Berkeley admits and/or gets more minorities, is that because it’s cheating or because it recruits more aggressively and creatively?

3. Important to look at not just freshman but transfer admits/yield as well.

4. Essential to look at graduation rates, not just freshmen enrollees. In this regard it may be interesting to compare Berkeley/UCLA, both before and after 209, with the University of Virginia, which for the past 12 years has had the highest minority graduation rate of major public institutions, and higher than several Ivy League schools as well. It’s hovered around 87%. But note: even at the major public institution with the very best minority graduation rate, the percentage of minorities who FAIL to graduate in six years is over twice as high as the rate for those admitted without preferences. (I’ve written about this a number of times, most recently ,and citing earlier posts, here.)

5. Regarding “hostile climate”/feeling unwelcome, etc., the Los Angeles Times article linked above quoted regent Eddie Island (who said no man is an Island?):

Regent Eddie Island was forceful in his support for the study. “African Americans are deserting from UC at an alarming and precipitous rate,” he said. Blacks on campus, he asserted, have told him of feeling “a palpable degree of hostility.”

“If 209 brought about that result, we ought to know about it,” Island said.

Hmm. If blacks are “deserting from” UCLA, that, again, suggests not that they are excluded but are staying away by choice.

First, in one sense that is completely rational as applied to a choice of where to apply: why spend $50 or whatever to apply to a selective school that refuses to give you a preference based on your race when there are so many selective schools that will give you a preference? But insofar as students who are accepted but choose not to attend a college that does not give preferences, I wonder if that reflects a fear of equality, a dependence on special treatment. If so, that would be one of the saddest consequences of the preferential regime we’ve instituted.

6. Proposition 209 wrote into California law the traditional American core value that everyone should be treated without regard to race, creed, or color. Even though the University of California Board of Regents tends to forget, the “without regard” principle, in addition to being the law, is a fundamental American principle, not some mere policy that should be discarded if we don’t like some of its effects. After all, we don’t reject equal opportunity simple because some people are better able to take advantage of it than others. (Or do we?) Rejecting colorblind equality because some students prefer to attend schools where they are treated to special benefits would be like preserving Jim Crow because some black teachers stood to lose their jobs once schools were integrated.

Say What? (2)

  1. Agog July 24, 2006 at 11:55 am | | Reply

    The UC System is really proposing to do political, agenda driven research. The UC system is no more able to objectively study the effect of Prop 209 on itself than the UCLA football coach would be able to objectively referee the UCLA vs USC football game.

    And the UC system’s political navel gazing will mean nothing unless the study also addresses the phenomenon of “cascading”. That is what occurs to minority students who are not admitted to UC Berkely or UCLA but instead are admitted to a school more appropriate to their academic skill level. Research shows that while Prop 209 has reduced minority admissions to elite, highly selective schools it has helped to improve overall minority graduation rates.

    Cascading raises the question no liberal diversocrat can bring herself to ask — is it not better for a minority student to graduate from UC-Riverside than it is to flunk out of UC- Berkley?

  2. Draft ’Em! : Release 3.0 February 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    […] example, as I had first argued here: If the yield [of admitted minority students who chose not to attend the University of California] […]

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