More On The Immediate, Dramatic Effect Of Prop. 2

Two days I discussed (here) some preliminary data on the effect of Prop. 2 on admissions at the University of Michigan. Although most of the press ran an Associated Press story saying it was too early to tell, it seemed to me that the early data told quite a lot.

Now Walter Nowinski, the news editor at the Michigan Daily, has looked at the data and reached the same conclusion: “Minority admissions plummet: Numbers point to dramatic effect of affirmative action ban.”

Before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction delaying the implementation of the affirmative action ban on Dec. 27 of last year, the University had admitted 76 percent of the underrepresented minority applicants it considered.

It only admitted 33 percent of underrepresented minority applicants considered after the University stopped taking an applicant’s race into account — a decline of 43 percent.

Nowinski points out that

Typically, the admissions rate declines for all applicants as the cycle progresses as the University tries to admit the right number of students to fill the freshman class.

And, true to form, in the most recent admissions cycle

Sixty-four percent of non-underrepresented minority applicants considered before the ban took effect were admitted compared with about 40 percent afterwards — a decline of 24 percent.

Nowinski mentions U-M spokesperson Julie Peterson’s ritual denial of the obvious and comments, skeptically, and then comments:

Still, underrepresented minority applicants went from being admitted at a rate 12 percent above the overall average before the ban took effect to 6 percent below the average afterward.

Even this formulation minimizes the significance of the ban, since the proper comparison of minority admits is to the admission of applicants who received no preferential treatment, not to the “overall average,” which includes the preferred minorities.

The comparison of this year’s cycle to last year’s also shows the lengths to which Michigan went in the past to admit minorities:

During the 2005-2006 admissions cycle, the acceptance rate for non-minority students declined by 12 percent from the end of December through early February.

In the same year, the underrepresented minority acceptance rate skyrocketed from 65 percent for applicants considered before the end of December to 84 percent for applicants reviewed between Jan. 7 and Feb. 11.

It appears that in last year’s cycle (2005–2006) U-M was had to admit a strikingly high percentage of applicants late in the cycle in order to meet its quota goal “critical mass.”


A mathematically astute and attentive reader points out that going from admitting 76% of minority applicants before the ban to 33% afterwards is “a 43 percentage point decline, not a 43 percent decline,” as Nowinski states. This confusion between a percentage point decline and a percent decline occurs throughout his piece, quoted without correction (until now) by yours truly.

Say What? (5)

  1. Chauncey February 19, 2007 at 11:36 pm | | Reply

    you find nothing troubling about this result?

  2. John Rosenberg February 20, 2007 at 12:05 am | | Reply

    Where did you get that idea?

  3. Chauncey February 20, 2007 at 11:57 am | | Reply

    i couldn’t tell from your post, which is why i asked.

  4. Cobra March 16, 2007 at 11:25 am | | Reply


    And as late as March 16, 2007, you still don’t get an answer to your question, which indeed, raises MORE questions, does it not?


  5. John Rosenberg March 16, 2007 at 1:41 pm | | Reply

    Excuse me. I hadn’t realized that anyone was holding his breath waiting for an answer to an opaque question (what result?) But for the record I’m troubled by lots of things contained in this article, such as the apparently frantic pace at which Michigan admitted minority students when they saw the ban on preferences looming, the degree of previous preferences revealed by the drop in minority admission rates afterwards, etc., etc.

Say What?