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affirmative action bake sale
February 19, 2003 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Race-Baiting Bake Sale at U of Michigan: student group sells donuts and bagels for $1 to whites, $0.80 to "non-whites," to "raise awareness of the school's affirmative action admission policies." And to piss off a lot of students, apparently. Clever direct political action, or misguided bunch of jackasses?
posted by serafinapekkala (111 comments total)

 
I'm all for engaging in debate about this issue, but could these students have found a more illogical, irritating way to do it? their analogy between discounted baked goods and admission to a state university eludes me...the idea is, since the school awards points in its admissions formula for "being minority," it's like giving a discounted price on...bagels? learning? whatever. here's the even bigger problem: how do they ascertain the exact race of their customers? self-identification? random chromosome testing? what about half-euro, half-latino folks like me, do we only get ten cents off? interestingly, this would actually be a great example of the alternative admissions formula proposed by some affirmative-action opponents, which is to only look at economic/class factors, not race. i.e. those that can pay the full $1 do so, those who can't, get $0.20 off, regardless of race. hmmmmm...this is making me hungry.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:29 AM on February 19, 2003


Yeah, like non-white people eat bagels.
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on February 19, 2003


The bake sale was designed to garner attention and encourage debate, not set forth as the perfect analogy. And anyway the analogy isn't a bad one. Food is a necessity, and setting race-based prices for anything is discrimination.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 AM on February 19, 2003


I am very proud of my hometown today. Good for these guys and gals. But the Uni is gonna catch some flak because of the price difference...or maybe they won't.
posted by clavdivs at 8:39 AM on February 19, 2003


Cute how they didn't give any jocks a discount or people whose parents went to the bake sale. Oh, wait, that's because it doesn't carry the message that those lazy black folk get it so easy. Or maybe like orange swan said it's just an inaccurate and offensively simple(minded) anaolgy.

Of course it delivers a skewed message, that's what you do when you take one of the most complicated and diverse social situations in the country and declare your indignation at the simple single issue you've personally chosen to relegate it to. Because from one point of view, a portion of Affirmative Action makes it slightly easier for a black kid to get into college than a white kid, the other 95% of Affirmative Action's history, intent, and effectiveness is ignored because it's not politically expedient for a bunch of snotty white conservative students who just want to get in the newspaper to show how outraged they are with likely the sole circumstance in their life where (gasp!) a black person had an advantage over them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:42 AM on February 19, 2003


Also in the news, local police will be randomly stopping the cars of white college students in the area just because they're white. You know, to "raise awareness of racial profiling."
posted by gwint at 8:48 AM on February 19, 2003


My vote: misguided bunch of jackasses

If they want to do this accurately then the bagels should be free to the rich kids.
posted by nofundy at 8:56 AM on February 19, 2003


nofundy, rich kids don't have to pay to go to school? since when?
posted by jbelshaw at 8:58 AM on February 19, 2003


$17 worth of muffins and bagels. At $.80 per, that's 20 muffins at most sold at a discount to non-whites. At least one person bought a muffin at the $1 price.

No matter how you slice it, that's not a whole lot of dough.
posted by ringmaster at 8:58 AM on February 19, 2003


Let them eat cake.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:58 AM on February 19, 2003


Heh, funnily enough I'm mildly amused but not at all offended by this. And I'm white AND pro-Affirmative Action, which I think makes me one of the people they're trying to piss off. But, y'know, the analogy is so obviously flawed, and so obviously useful only as a way of provoking debate, that I just think it's kind of interesting.

Maybe they should up the ante by giving white people a "headstart" handout of $0.50 before they buy, which is analogous to the reason we have AA in the first place....

(On preview: no, jbelshaw, the point is that rich kids don't have to be academically stellar to get into school. The price of the bagel corresponds to the standards applied when assessing admissions criteria, not to the actual price tag of the education.)
posted by Raya at 9:00 AM on February 19, 2003


likely the sole circumstance in their life where (gasp!) a black person had an advantage over them.

Why should there be any circumstance where policy dictates an advantage for one race over another? Do two wrongs make a right?
posted by jonson at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2003


nofundy, how do you figure?

last i checked, the rich kids are the only ones who don't qualify for need-based scholarships.
posted by mosch at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2003


One answer to the students' point - if the educational allegory is continued - is that in terms of differences in funding for 'minority' and 'non-minority' schools, minority students only receive 80c of education to spend at university, compared with non-minority students, who receive $1.00. So both minorities and non-minorities are doing the same amount of work to get into university, eat the bagel (or whatever).

Personally, I think that the top 20% of every high school - regardless of test scores - sho uld get automatic placement in at least state universities. That way, you get people who want to learn, rather than rich bored kids placed in university by their parents for four years of increasingly expensive day care. Someone told me that some states i n the US practice this system, or one like it, but I can't find references.nno
posted by carter at 9:04 AM on February 19, 2003


ah, mangled analogy. sorry.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:06 AM on February 19, 2003


Well, we all know that if it had been a group of feminists doing it to point out the much whined about wage gap there would be liberal cheering in the streets.

So it seems to me like this is well in keeping with the tradition of protest and controversy as debate.
posted by soulhuntre at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2003


race-based prices

this is the thing that makes the LEAST sense to me, the pricing. if the bake sale is supposed to mimic the admissions process, then it should be need-blind, i.e., first they look to see if the person is qualified for admission, THEN they worry about how/if the student can afford the tuition. to make the analogy work, they'd have to say to non-white customers, "Aha, we've got some muffins over here reserved for folks like you, could you move up in the line a few spaces so you're more likely to get to buy a baked good?"

the *price* of a Michigan education doesn't change (i am leaving aside the nexus between race, class, and financial aid for simplicity and just pointing out that the Uni charges everyone who gets in the same tuition, before handing out any kind of aid) based on race, duh. the issue is who get's to buy the education in the first place. in a perfect meritocracy only the hungriest customers or, i don't know, the one's with the most finely-honed palates would be selected to purchase and savor the donuts. as it stands now, the idea is to make sure that a *diverse* group of customers eats breakfast together, not just the first ones through the door or the ones with the highest test scores, for example. it really boggles my mind that many of the same people who have no problem with government policy that benefits a select group, say, in the form of a big fat capital gains tax cut, have a problem with selectivity in education, a much more complicated and important forum, in my view.
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2003


Why should there be any circumstance where policy dictates an advantage for one race over another? Do two wrongs make a right?

The point of Affirmative Action is to have a policy that dictates rights that correct a wrong. A rather large and several-hundred-year-long wrong, at that. (By all means, commence the traditional invocation-of-it-not-being-your-specific-fault now. Never heard it before.)

As far as everyone questioning nofundy goes, I think the point was that this isn't about spending money... outside of possible scholarships, no school is actually charging black students less money for tuition than white students. Saying black people have to pay less money is not only a complete lie, but a terrible analogy against a policy that merely considers racial class as one of many factors in acceptance to a college that will, ultimately, charge everyone the same rate.

Were the school doing to blacks and whites what, as soulhuntre graciously pointed out, many companies do to men and women, there would be a cause for legitimate disapproval.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2003


This might be slightly O/T, but I can't help but be struck by the synergy between this "controversy" and the stuff that's goin' down right now over on the Hip Hop Clown Month site. [Full disclosure: it's not a self-link but I do know the organizers personally.] Apparently, the local WB news program did a story on HHCM that riled up devotees of hip hop and is causing a barrage of hate mail.

Is our culture just so racially charged that there is no room for any light-hearted "treatment" of the "issues"? Should we all just engage lawyers and let the discussion take place exclusively in the courts?
posted by Raya at 9:16 AM on February 19, 2003


for $1 to whites, $0.80 to "non-whites,"

Non-minority students - including whites, Asians and Middle Easterners - were charged $1 for each baked good,

while minority students - blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics - were charged 80 cents.

????!

(On preview: no, jbelshaw, the point is that rich kids don't have to be academically stellar to get into school.

So wealth is based on skin color? What year is it, folks?Poor people come in all colors that is why the rich separate them into, race, color or any other groupings. I'm a human, what are you. Think, it is easier to control a small group instead of one large one, the poor.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2003


Cute how they didn't give any jocks a discount or people whose parents went to the bake sale.

Maybe it's because the constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of athletic ability or legacy, but contains explicit prohibitions against racial discrimination. Believe what you want, but reasonable critics of racial preferences aren't attacking such preferences because they believe the "merit" system should be sacrosanct, but rather because the benefits gained by admitting a relatively small number of minority applicants who would not otherwise be admitted but for their minority status, are far outweighed by the damage caused by compromising the fundamental principle that guarantees every person the right to be treated without regard to race, creed, or color.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2003


jbelshaw:
rich kids don't have to pay to go to school?

No, they don't. Their rich parents usually take care of it.
posted by ODiV at 9:27 AM on February 19, 2003


Legacies in no way compare to the color of your skin when it comes to getting into the University of Michigan. An applicant gets a maximum of 4 points out of 150 if their close relatives attended Michigan. That pales in comparison with 20 points that people get *only* due to the color of their skin, and the 20 points is even higher than the difference in points between the highest possible and lowest possible standardized testing scores. The issue of legacies is nothing more than a smokescreen.
posted by gyc at 9:28 AM on February 19, 2003


If they wanted to make a point about AA, they should have had 100 bagels for sale at the same price. However, 20 of those bagels would be available to "minorities" only. Even if the non-minority (and minority) students had bought the other 80 bagels and wanted more, the remaining 20 would still be unavailable to them.
posted by grum@work at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2003


The issue of legacies is nothing more than a smokescreen.

As opposed to the issue of race? As opposed to this being an issue at all? Unqualified people are not getting into college. They are not getting charged less. White people are not being directly penalized. To claim that the majority of people angry at this aren't just looking for another excuse to play the "so hard to be white in this country/political correctness has gone amuck" card is a long leap of faith.

According to pardonyou?, then, this is all about the constitution, and the need to maintain the true goal of racial equality... then why are you so adamant on destroying a policy that since its creation has proven to be effective in furthering that ultimate goal?

Through Affirmative Action, more qualified black people are getting into college, getting business loans, getting general opportunities to reach the social and economic parity that they have been deprived of through direct oppression and indirect generational embedded discrimination. The argument that it's "not fair" to the white people is as ludicrous as the argument that it makes it harder for whites to get a job or get into college... by that logic, it's unfair we abandoned slavery.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2003


They did this at, I think, UCLA, and they offered lower prices to women too. What state school has affirmative action for women, though? At Michigan, the only gender-based preference is for men in nursing, and I think it's that way just about everywhere.
posted by transona5 at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2003



My vote: misguided bunch of jackasses

If they want to do this accurately then the bagels should be free to the rich kids.


Oh yes, because political statements that favor minorities are righteous while ones that favor whites are jackass stunts. How silly of me to forget.
posted by tomorama at 9:51 AM on February 19, 2003


Hmm. Interesting question this one. How about we extended the analogy still further by kidnapping a large percentage of the non-white's ancestors and making them work for us for a while, while not providing them with opportunities for appropriate education, then freeing them to work in menial jobs while discriminating against them for a few hundred years. Then maybe we could look at the 20c being saved by non-white students as the tiniest step towards trying to fix the damage this all did as well as an investment in having a society where the colour of your skin isn't a major factor in deciding whether you're going to grow up to be a senator or a check-out girl.
posted by barbelith at 9:52 AM on February 19, 2003


Of course it delivers a skewed message, that's what you do when you take one of the most complicated and diverse social situations in the country and declare your indignation at the simple single issue you've personally chosen to relegate it to.

You mean like No War For Oil?
posted by Beholder at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2003


Unqualified people are not getting into college. ... Through Affirmative Action, more qualified black people are getting into college ... that they have been deprived of through direct oppression and indirect generational embedded discrimination

Wait a minute... so if a white or Asian-American with the same test scores/extras/etc. gets 99/150 points, they are "unqualified" yet an underrepresented minority that gains 80 points yet get another 20 points because of their race is suddenly "qualified"? Furthermore, are you claiming Asian/Arab/non-underrepresented minorities somehow do not suffer discrimination? Do most bigots say "man I hate blacks, but I don't mind Asian-Americans"?
posted by gyc at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2003


hey this sounds just like Malaysia

in Malaysia, every big ticket item has two prices : one for the majority Malays, one for everyone else. Usually the price disparity is around 20%, so if you're Chinese and want to buy a house, it might be 400,000 ringit, but if you're Malay, it would be around 320,000 ringit...
posted by badzen at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2003


The fact that we don't have (and have never had, or even considered, as far as I know) price discounts on consumer goods for people of color and yet we do have affirmative action in areas like unversity admissions, government contracting and hiring iteslf illustrates the silliness of the analogy. The reason we don't is not simply because it had never occurred to anyone, but because there is a substantive moral and policy difference between providing price discounts on consumer goods and increasing access to employment, business opportunities and higher education. The former is just plain favoratism while the latter is aimed specifically at ameliorating historical inequalities between the races. The key here is understanding that affirmative action is not an indefinite policy but is to be used only so long as disparities exist. Once the playing field is level, affirmative action goes away.
posted by boltman at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2003


XQUZYPHYR, it is a straight-out falsehood to say that "white people are not being directly penalized." It is BEYOND DEBATE that affirmative action causes the rejection of one white or asian student for each less qualified black or hispanic student who is admitted.

Michigan's 20-extra-point system results in the rejection of HUNDREDS of white and asian students each year with higher SATs and high school GPAs than the black and hispanic students who are favored. What's more, the situation in Michigan is particularly dire, because the difference in quality and connection value between Michigan Ann Arbor and ANY OTHER public school in Michigan is so huge. Forcing a person academically more qualified to go to Michigan State or Michigan-Dearborn is inflicting permanent damage upon their life chances. It doesn't mean they won't succeed, it just means that it will be meaningfully harder.

Does all this mean that affirmative action is wrong? Not in itself -- but it means that it MUST be justified by reference to the moral weight of harming hundreds of real, living, and breathing people for the sole offense of having white or asian parents.
posted by MattD at 9:57 AM on February 19, 2003


Forcing a person academically more qualified to go to Michigan State or Michigan-Dearborn is inflicting permanent damage upon their life chances.

Unintentionaly funny sentence of the day.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:04 AM on February 19, 2003


Excuse me, "Unintentionally"
posted by SweetJesus at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2003


XQUZYPHYR raises a good point, which has gone largely ignored here: What about schools that give preference to "legacy" candidates--whose parents are alumni of the school--or student-athletes, who are by-and-large FAR less qualified for admittance to many of these schools than the kids who are getting in due to AA. If you wipe out one system of "preferential" treatment, you'd better wipe out them all.
posted by jpoulos at 10:09 AM on February 19, 2003


For this to be a protest based on the real situation, the prices should have been as follows:

Cost of donut: $0.80. Add up to $1.50 (maximum) for the following:posted by moonbiter at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2003


JPoulos -- did you read the earlier note that U Michigan gives only 4 points for legacies, versus 20 for favored-race? This is actually quite consistent with legacy admissions as presently practiced at most selective schools -- FAR less of an edge than having the right skin color.

Also, have you taken a gander at the racial composition of the football, baseball and basketball teams at U Michigan (sports which consume a large proportion of preferential admit slots)?

It cannot be evaded that affirmative action punishes as many whites and asians as it rewards blacks and hispanics ... either justify this, or be content with an unjustified policy.
posted by MattD at 10:19 AM on February 19, 2003


SweetJesus -- why is this funny? I'm not saying Michigan State or Deaborn aren't good schools. I'm saying that they are not in the leage with Ann Arbor, which is one of the three best public universities in the country and one of the twenty or thirty best universities, period. The benefits of attending one of those institutions are profound, and to deny them to those who have fairly earned their way in requires justification.
posted by MattD at 10:22 AM on February 19, 2003


It is BEYOND DEBATE that affirmative action causes the rejection of one white or asian student for each less qualified black or hispanic student who is admitted.

And? The abolition of slavery and successive growth of the black race post-Reconstruction also caused the rejection of one white person for every black person given a job. That's not direct penalization, that's the creation of a larger job pool.

So then there is the issue of preference: when this first happened, a lot of people also decided that it "wasn't fair" that the blacks were suddenly "taking all our jobs away," so for a long period before the creation of Affirmative Action it was simple to decide that you just wouldn't hire a black person. Or let them into your college. Forget college applications: "preferential treatment" was enacted before one even sat down at the diner.

Conservatives relegate their total knowledge of Martin Luther King to one quote they love to tout in these arguments- the "judging by the content of their character." However, they seem to forget that King also specifically said "a society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must do something special for the Negro." King said this in light of his promotion of Affirmative Action, which although from your point of view you may consider unfair is actually the exact form of "justification to the moral weight" you're asking for.

Although some likely are, I am not trying to imply that disagreeing with Affirmative Action is a sign of racism. However, I do find it short-sighted to summarize the issue of Affirmative Action by one school's admissions policy because by nature Affirmative Action is based on a broad timeline of reason and jusitification. The very social position that most of us in this country, and for that matter the world, are in right now is largely based on the U.S.'s early economic success through slave labor, followed by the creation of a racial underclass as a result of not just failing to help but outright hindering the freed slaves and their descendants. The slight advantage we now offer blacks in this country is more than justifiable in light of the vast advantage we gained through their exploitation.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:23 AM on February 19, 2003


Ah yes. I knew affirmative action & slavery abolition were moral equivalents. Thanks, XQ, you've shown me the light.
posted by jonson at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2003


You mean like No War For Oil?

Well, "I question the legitimacy of the current and previous administrations' intentions in the Mideast considering the hypocrisy of ignorance towards the social and military crisis in so many other countries not directly involved in a well-documented foreign oil power struggle as well as the dangers of the long-term effects of a massive ground invasion of a country not effectively proven as a military threat to the United States or any of its neighboring countries" doesn't really fit on a sign, Beholder. ;)

It does raise the point, though, that while the protestors of the Affirmative Action policy have managed to easily get a news crew over there to listen to them talk of the "need for more debate," the coverage of war protestors trying to do the same thing is treated with the usual "hey, look at the stupid hippies!" tone.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2003


Any judgement based on race is racism. If affirmative action is meant to help an underprivileged group of people, then base it on socioeconomic factors, not race. There are poor and underprivileged people of all races, but in affirmative actions case, only one group is assisted. All the other underprivileged are denied help simply because of their skin color.
posted by jsonic at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2003


There was a more extreme version of the bake sale idea conducted by the Bruin Republicans at UCLA: "The sale, held on Bruin Walk on Feb. 3, offered cookies at different prices depending on the customer's race and gender. Black, Latina and American Indian females were charged 25 cents for cookies that cost males of minority descent 50 cents. White females were charged $1, and white males and all Asian Americans were charged $2. Students selling the cookies were assigned name tags portraying them as 'Uncle Tom,' 'The White Oppressor' and 'Self-Hating Hispanic Race Traitor.'"

Still think this is funny? Well, maybe Rush Limbaugh will declare you humorless.l
posted by ed at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2003


The fact that we don't have (and have never had, or even considered, as far as I know) price discounts on consumer goods for people of color and yet we do have affirmative action in areas like unversity admissions, government contracting and hiring iteslf illustrates the silliness of the analogy.

I don't know about price discounts... depends on what the restaurants that had "whites only" signs charged compared with other places...
posted by Space Coyote at 10:54 AM on February 19, 2003


1. The beauty of the bake off and the piss off that follows is that silly as it may or may not be, look at how it has sitrred the ire of so many feeling the need to remark upon this and thus focus on the issue itself.
2. The title to the post is misleading: there is nothing in the true title to the article that calls this "race baiting."
posted by Postroad at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2003


I think the analogy is perfect. It's quite a leap to say that indentured servitude 100 years ago has *anything* to do with the economic position of blacks today. My great grandmother worked for basically nil in the Lowell Mills, but I don't use that as an excuse for poverty in my family, because it's a ridiculous argument.

Admission should be race-blind. This is the goal of the American melting pot - we don't care what race you are, if you have what it takes. Should we give opportunities to those who haven't had the opportunities of educated parents, who haven't been able to study as much because they worked a job to pay for food in high school? Of course.

However, I fail to see how that's related to race.

An applicant with, say, a 1200 SAT and a 3.5 who lives a tough life and went to a bad school should be admitted, all other things equal, over an applicant with a 1300/3.7 who went to Groton Academy.

But should a black student from Choate with a 1200/3.5 be admitted over a white kid in poverty going to school in inner-city Milwaukee with a 1300/3.7?

What do you think MLK would say about that?
posted by Kevs at 11:07 AM on February 19, 2003


Any judgement based on race is racism. If affirmative action is meant to help an underprivileged group of people, then base it on socioeconomic factors, not race.

I agree with this statement, but based on the responses here, wouldn't the argument against it just shift to the following?:

"It's unfair that people from poor neighborhoods with lower SAT scores get in while those more affluent individuals with better scores are denied. It is unfair that class determines who gets in."
posted by mathowie at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2003


Is there a specific number/percentage of admissions that have to be minorities, or is it completely let-the-points-fall-as-they-may?
posted by tolkhan at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2003


Should we give opportunities to those who haven't had the opportunities of educated parents, who haven't been able to study as much because they worked a job to pay for food in high school? Of course.

However, I fail to see how that's related to race.


Exactly. Affirmative action should be based on the financial and social challenges a student faced while growing up, not race. Make affirmative action help all needy people, not just those with a certain skin color.
posted by jsonic at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2003


If you are the best of the best then you'll get a job with or without affirmative action.
posted by whirlwind29 at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2003


Does anyone have any statistics that show how many minority students who attend universities because of affirmative action drop out or receive low test scores? I'd like to know if allowing these huge, teeming masses of underqualified students are actually just taking up space and not utilizing their resources?

Also, the university of Michigan is a public university. Since its a university that is designed to serve its public (ie taxpayers), shouldn't the racial make up of its students reflect the general populace? I mean, don't minorities pay taxes?
posted by Stynxno at 11:23 AM on February 19, 2003


SweetJesus -- why is this funny? I'm not saying Michigan State or Deaborn aren't good schools. I'm saying that they are not in the leage with Ann Arbor, which is one of the three best public universities in the country and one of the twenty or thirty best universities, period. The benefits of attending one of those institutions are profound, and to deny them to those who have fairly earned their way in requires justification.

It's funny because you talk about it in such a histrionic way (Forcing a person to go to college), when in reality, it's not that big of a deal. There are plenty of good colleges and universities out there. Your life is what you do with it, not where you go to school.

Maybe its just me, but I really have a hard time feeling bad for the kids who didn't get in because they're white, or asian. If they have better grades and test scores (Don't even get me started on standardized exam biases) then they should have no problem getting into another school that's on the same level as UMich. But instead, they just whine and complain.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2003


mathowie

I think that if the race issue were taken out of affirmative action, much fewer people would be against it. Helping someone out because they are poor and underprivileged seems much more palatable than helping someone out because of their race.
posted by jsonic at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2003


um...sentence should read: I'd like to know if these teeming masses of underqualified students are just plain dumb and not utilizing their resources.
posted by Stynxno at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2003


Unfortunately, I think need-based AA will cause just as much resentment as race-based AA. And given the history of resentment toward "model minorities" (once Jews, now Asian Americans), I also suspect that eliminating AA will not make many non-minorities appreciably happier.

I taught for a year at the U of M--Ann Arbor. First (and last) time I was ever told that the department "expected" B- averages in a freshman skills class.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2003


No, they don't. Their rich parents usually take care of it.

So what? What's wrong with people saving for their kids education?
posted by fried at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2003


Yeah SweetJesus I agree. I have a hard time feeling sorry for a bunch of spoiled white kids who's parents probably paid their way to school when they whine about minorities getting an advantage for once.
posted by whirlwind29 at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2003


In a country where progressive taxation is labelled as 'class warfare' I fully expect need-based AA to come under just as much fire, by the same people who are pulling stupid stunts like this bake sale.

The kids holding the bake sale obviously had no trouble getting into the university. And if they have time to organize stunts like this I'd just as soon have their spot taken up by a kid who will use the oppourtunity to go to college and improve themselves, rather than as a way to avoid the real world on your parents' dime.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:42 AM on February 19, 2003


If you are the best of the best then you'll get a job with or without affirmative action.
posted by whirlwind29 at 11:20 AM PST on February 19

By definition, most people aren't.
posted by callmejay at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2003


If you are the best of the best then you'll get a job with or without affirmative action.

By definition, most people aren't.
posted by callmejay at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2003


Would it not make more sense to Affirmative Action-ize Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in poor & minority areas? It's such a farce to have kids in these areas try to struggle though what is in many places a nearly impossible learning environment and then give them 20 points for college entrance to try to make up for it.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2003


Metafilter - like free bagels for rich kids
posted by tr33hggr at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2003


I have a hard time feeling sorry for a bunch of spoiled white kids who's parents probably paid their way to school when they whine about minorities getting an advantage for once.

... because every single white kid, or even a majority of white kids admitted to the University of Michigan are spoiled and have rich parents... way to generalize... so do they also all drive SUV's and kill cute and cuddly animals?
posted by gyc at 11:56 AM on February 19, 2003


One of three plaintiffs in the case that went before the supreme court is from my area. In a news interview, he claimed that he did not want to go out of state because of higher tuition, plus, he wants to go to school in his home state. This guy does not have the bucks to go it alone financially and was counting on student aid. This guy is not whining, he is exercising his rights. The news interviewed a guy from my old high school, being hispanic, he felt that it gave him something for which is only based upon his ethnic background and not on scholastic merit. yes, that is only one view but a point at that.
posted by clavdivs at 11:56 AM on February 19, 2003


The kids holding the bake sale obviously had no trouble getting into the university.

Obviously? Why?

if they have time to organize stunts like this I'd just as soon have their spot taken up by a kid who will use the oppourtunity to go to college and improve themselves

Protesting a cause they disagree with is wasting time?

rather than as a way to avoid the real world on your parents' dime.

Stereotype much?
posted by jsonic at 11:59 AM on February 19, 2003


it being AA
posted by clavdivs at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2003


fried:
So what? What's wrong with people saving for their kids education?

Absolutely nothing. I was just pointing out that kids from rich families aren't likely to pay for their own education. Believe it or not, there was no subtext.
posted by ODiV at 12:18 PM on February 19, 2003


Well, we all know that if it had been a group of feminists doing it to point out the much whined about wage gap there would be liberal cheering in the streets.

This got by without a comment? I'm actually feeling physically ill. Is it really thought that women not being paid as much as men is something only 'bleeding hearts' are concerned with? The person that posted this is the reason that AA is necessary. ICK!!
posted by katy_ at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2003


It's quite a leap to say that indentured servitude 100 years ago has *anything* to do with the economic position of blacks today.

Slavery destroyed a lot of familes, did serious damage to the entire cultural norm of having a family. That's the kind of thing that can take generations to recover from. Not in every case: there are plenty of healthy African-American families and there are white families that seem to have reaped little benefit from previous generations.

In some ways this is a problem in statistics: an African-American kid is more likely than a white kid to have one of various disadvantages that can be traced back to slavery.
But do you then award a remedy to all African-Americans because of this statistical difference?

Universities play statistics in other ways: not every legacy will encourage allumni parents to donate money, not every scholarship athlete will help the team win, not every student with amazing extracurricular experience will enrich the culture of the university. But the universities have found that, in general, getting more students in these categories will, in general, enrich the university in these ways. Similarly, affirmative action looks blunt at an individual level, but overall has the effect of redressing some of the wrongs done by slavery and discrimination.
posted by straight at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2003


Thanks go to moonbiter for providing the school's admissions points breakdown, which I'm surprised no one has commented on. I was intrigued by these two lines:

+$0.20 for students who are minorities, come from high schools with a majority of minority students, or are from a low-income family (including white students)
+$0.20 for student atheletes


First, this shows it isn't just a racial issue, but a socio-economic issue too, so all of you railing against the racist nature of the admissions policy need to drop that tact.

Second, consider the following situation. Say I'm a white, middle-class male with good grades.

If I'm passed over for a minority student with worse grades (within 20 points), that's HORRIBLE.

But if I'm passed over for an athelete, of well, that's the breaks? Where's the outrage there, people?

(Or maybe the school figures it's in their best interest to have a number of atheletes on campus? Just like it would be in their best interest to have a racially diverse campus?)
posted by turaho at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2003


First, this shows it isn't just a racial issue, but a socio-economic issue too, so all of you railing against the racist nature of the admissions policy need to drop that tact.

Why? This actually bolsters the need to drop race-based admissions. If you're truly poor and disadvantaged (as I assume most of the underrepresented minorities are), you'll still get the boost. Only now that if the 20 points for race was abolished, underrepresented minorities that are not disadvantaged by going to a bad school or poor parents will no longer be able to take advantage.
posted by gyc at 12:35 PM on February 19, 2003


The kids holding the bake sale obviously had no trouble getting into the university.

You can say this based on what evidence? Do you know for a fact none of them had to put off college for a year and work for some fast-food joint or go to a school they did not want to go to because there wasn't room for them at their preferred school?

4easypayments Stop making sense. We'll have none of that here. Fix the symptoms, not the problem.
posted by Nauip at 12:38 PM on February 19, 2003


"Is there a specific number/percentage of admissions that have to be minorities"

o. That's using quotas, and it's not allowed. The tough part is that universities have been told by the Supreme Court that on the one hand they have to take race into account, and on the other that they're not allowed to use quotas to do it. (That's my understanding, anyway, based on this article and a few others from a month or so ago. I'm no expert, though.)
posted by nickmark at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2003


That would be "No", not "o".
posted by nickmark at 12:40 PM on February 19, 2003


if I'm passed over for an athelete, of well, that's the breaks? Where's the outrage there, people?

All they are doing is giving students credit for putting in the effort to compete in sports at a collegiate level while at the same time studying for their academic programs.

Much different than giving someone credit simply because of the color of their skin. AA should be socioeconomic based, not racial.
posted by jsonic at 12:44 PM on February 19, 2003


All they are doing is giving students credit for putting in the effort to compete in sports at a collegiate level while at the same time studying for their academic programs.

So you're saying that sometimes there are factors beyond good grades that are important to the admission decision?
posted by turaho at 12:55 PM on February 19, 2003


Turaho...playing a sport, knowing how to play an instrument, being able to speak many languages - these are all talents that one develops and brings to a college, and all are taken into account for admissions.

Having darker skin, I don't think, in and of itself contributes anything to a college environment nor is it the result of long hours of practice. No one lists "I was African-American for 20 years" on their resume. No one devotes hours of practice to being black.

Now, some African-Americans, much like some Asians, whites, Native Americans, North Africans, etc., etc., do have a background that led to them having to work harder for the same grades/scores. Some African-Americans, whites, Native Americans, etc., etc., had a lot of opportunities from the beginning. The argument can be made that this should be taken into account in a college decision.

No one is arguing that grades and scores should be the only determinent. The argument of these students, like my argument, is that race is simply not the factor that should be considered when we try to create an equal society.

It's as if one wanted a Snickers bar. One store sells Snickers and 2 other candy bars, while a second store sells Snickers and 9 other candy bars. Do you go to the first store and pick a candy bar at random because the odds of getting what you want is more likely at store one? Or do you go into either store and simply pick up the bar you actually want if the goal is furthering opportunity for those who have strong potential for success?
posted by Kevs at 1:04 PM on February 19, 2003


So you're saying that sometimes there are factors beyond good grades that are important to the admission decision?

Read my previous posts. I think AA should help poor and underprivelged students who grew up in bad environments but still achieved a certain level of academics regardless of race. Otherwise it discriminates against the poor and underpriviledged whose skin is the wrong color.

Also, AA based on socioeconomic factors will increase diversity on campus since minorities are statistically in worse socioeconomic environments.
posted by jsonic at 1:07 PM on February 19, 2003


UM (like other state universities?) also has geographical quotas, so that a student with good GPA, SATs, and comparable extracurricular activities (etc.) is more likely to get in if from a small town in the Thumb or UP which doesn't have economic resources than from a city which funds more academically competitive schools. Otherwise the university would be disproportionately from Detroit and Grand Rapids suburbs, AA itself, Midland, etc.

Prospective students are understandably perturbed about their own individual chances to get in, but the university wants a certain kind of community, one which more closely reflects the state's geography and gender and ethnic composition.

BTW, does anyone know what Yale's legacy policies were when George W. applied there? How many points did they allow him?
posted by palancik at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2003


Would it not make more sense to Affirmative Action-ize Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in poor & minority areas? It's such a farce to have kids in these areas try to struggle though what is in many places a nearly impossible learning environment and then give them 20 points for college entrance to try to make up for it.

Well, in Boston (and the greater Boston area) we have something like this. It's called METCO, and it's been around since the 70's. It's a little different now, then it was. (They no longer try to bus kids from white communities into black communities, after the riots.).

I went to a METCO high school (Melrose High School, Melrose Ma) and I knew a few kids who were in the METCO program. Imagine having to wake up at 4:30 am every weekday in order catch the bus, and not arriving back until 4:30 or 5:00 at night, just to get a decent education.

All they are doing is giving students credit for putting in the effort to compete in sports at a collegiate level while at the same time studying for their academic programs.

Jesus Christ, give me a break. You don't think student athletes get the wheels greased a little bit when it comes to their studies? I know where I go to school they do (at least the basketball team). You're out of your goddamn head if you think its ok to give someone 20 points because they can throw a ball far, but its horrible to give someone 20 points because they're a minority.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:17 PM on February 19, 2003


You're out of your goddamn head if you think its ok to give someone 20 points because they can throw a ball far, but its horrible to give someone 20 points because they're a minority.

Giving someone '20 points' simply because of the color of their skin is racism. I guess you're ok with that though.

My new .sig: AA should be socioeconomic need based, not racial.
posted by jsonic at 1:30 PM on February 19, 2003


Kevs: No one devotes hours of practice to being black.

That's not true, and you know it.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2003


Giving someone '20 points' simply because of the color of their skin is racism. I guess you're ok with that though.

No, it's racialism. I don't appreciate you trying to imply that I'm a racist.

I agree that if the goal of AA is to assure that those without opportunity have the chance to attend college, then yes, it should be solely socio-economically based.

But I also think that if a college wants to have more atheletes (because atheletes creates better sport teams which draws more public interest which brings more funding which benefits the entire student body) then they can also want to have more minorities (because miniorities bring diversity of viewpoint which discourages a simplistic, "ivory tower" approach to education which benefits the entire student body).

I fully acknowledge that some will disagree with my opinion that diversity = better education, but to me it holds as much weight as the opinion that more atheletes = better education, and ultimately it's a decision the university makes.
posted by turaho at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2003


UM (like other state universities?) also has geographical quotas, so that a student with good GPA, SATs, and comparable extracurricular activities (etc.) is more likely to get in if from a small town in the Thumb or UP which doesn't have economic resources than from a city which funds more academically competitive schools. Otherwise the university would be disproportionately from Detroit and Grand Rapids suburbs, AA itself, Midland, etc.

That is all true. However, if you look at the points system, they get nowhere near the boost that affirmative action offers. You get 10 points for being a Michigan resident, which few will argue is unfair since it is a state institution to serve the state of Michigan. You get an extra 6 points for being from an underrepresented part of Michigan. Out of staters can get 2 points for being from an underrepresented state. There is still a large 14 point gap between 20 points and 6 points.
posted by gyc at 1:54 PM on February 19, 2003


Those of you opposed to AA are ignoring its primary purpose. The goal of AA has little to do with fairness on an individual level. It was intended to counteract a historical trend of massive sepregation and oppression on the basis of race that has only recently begun to diminish. The goal is achieved when the proportion of blacks in higher education and skilled employment is roughly proportional to the percentage of blacks in the population. Whether or not individual blacks that are admitted are poor or not is entirely irrevelent to this broad social goal. The real question is not whether it is fair to favor black students over whites but whether achieving the broad social goal of economic equality between the races is worth some unfairness at the individual level.

I suppose one could argue that AA is too blunt of an instrument and that people should only be granted advantages based upon discrimination and/or historical oppression that they or their ancestors actually experienced. But good luck trying to figure out how to implement that idea. [It could also be argued that racial class disparities are inherently bad for society and therefore AA is good thing regardless of past discrimination since it produces a more egalitarian society.]

As far as AA for poverty, I'm all in favor of that too. The trap of poverty is obviously a problem. But so is the underrepresentation of blacks in the higher end of the workforce. You might say one of the ideas implicit in traditional AA is that poverty that is concentrated among historically oppressed minority groups is worse than poverty distrbuted equally among groups. Without a racial component to AA, you may reduce the proportion of people in the U.S. that are poor, but you do nothing to reduce the proportion of the poor that are people of color.
posted by boltman at 2:15 PM on February 19, 2003


The title to the post is misleading: there is nothing in the true title to the article that calls this "race baiting."

yup, that's right Postroad, *I* decided it was race-baiting, thus i named my post. the issue here that sticks in my craw most is not just the difficulties of crafting AA policy, but the underlying requirement of rigid racial identification. i personally support the idea (if not always the reality) of AA, but that doesn't mean i like having these strict white v. non-white, or worse whites and "high-achieving" non-whites v. lazy non-whites, dichotomies. like i said earlier, i'm not sure what kind of discount they'd offer me at this bake sale since i don't fall neatly into one category, and that pisses me off, making me feel...baited, as a hungry Homer Simpson with a donut dangling just out of reach...
posted by serafinapekkala at 2:28 PM on February 19, 2003


I don't appreciate you trying to imply that I'm a racist.

I did not call you, or anyone, a racist. Read my post again. I defined racism and said SweetJesus was ok with it. How else would you define racism other than judging someone by the color of their skin?

they can also want to have more minorities

I agree, but racism is not the solution. Basing AA on socioeconomic factors will increase diversity without resorting to racism.

Without a racial component to AA, you may reduce the proportion of people in the U.S. that are poor, but you do nothing to reduce the proportion of the poor that are people of color.

I disagree. Giving credit to people who are underpriviledged without regard to race will help all who are underpriviledged. If you base AA on race, then people who are not underpriviledged but happen to be African American will benefit from it while truly poor non-African Americans will be shafted.
posted by jsonic at 2:30 PM on February 19, 2003


Giving someone '20 points' simply because of the color of their skin is racism. I guess you're ok with that though.

No it's not. It's a racial decision, not a racist decision. Racism is the belief that one race is superior to all others.

The cards are not stacked in your favor if you're black or Latino in this country. I'm all for this 20 point plan. At least it helps minorities get in to school, because once they're out, they're on their own.
posted by SweetJesus at 2:32 PM on February 19, 2003


It's a racial decision, not a racist decision. Racism is the belief that one race is superior to all others.

Exactly. Assuming that you have to give one race an extra '20' points to be competitive is inherently stating that they are not equal (ie. that one race is inferior). Therefore, I would say, that is a racist decision.

Basing AA on socioeconomic factors solves these problems.

(I do respect your opinion, however. Just don't say that I'm out of my "goddamn head" for disagreeing with you.
posted by jsonic at 2:42 PM on February 19, 2003


Clever, direct political action.

Race based preferences are dead wrong.
posted by hama7 at 2:57 PM on February 19, 2003


Those of you opposed to AA are ignoring its primary purpose.

That's just not true. I know full well that one of the primary purposes of AA is to remedy the present effects of past discrimination (although, ironically, U of M doesn't take that position in its own defense because it claims a long history of non-discrimination -- its defense is based solely on the promotion of "diversity"). And I (and many reasonable opponents of AA) are perfectly willing to concede that those "purposes" may be laudible and good. But there is a greater societal interest in prohibiting distinctions made solely on the basis of race. As I said above: "the benefits gained by admitting a relatively small number of minority applicants who would not otherwise be admitted but for their minority status, are far outweighed by the damage caused by compromising the fundamental principle that guarantees every person the right to be treated without regard to race, creed, or color."

I suppose one could argue that AA is too blunt of an instrument and that people should only be granted advantages based upon discrimination and/or historical oppression that they or their ancestors actually experienced. But good luck trying to figure out how to implement that idea.

Yes, that's a hornet's nest. But there's no reason to make that argument, when the most fundamental one is staring us in the face: We as a society have decided that decisions should not be made based on the color of a person's skin. That's the value worth protecting -- and I would argue it's worth protecting to the exclusion of all other considerations, no matter what benefits they may bring.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:05 PM on February 19, 2003


Assuming that you have to give one race an extra '20' points to be competitive is inherently stating that they are not equal (ie. that one race is inferior). Therefore, I would say, that is a racist decision.

There's the rub. This is an argument I hear often in terms of the AA debate, but one I do not proscribe to. The 20 points are not awarded out of the belief that certain minorities are less intelligent and therefore need more help. That, as you point out, would be rascist. The twenty points are awarded as a means of creating a diverse population of educated people. Study after study shows that minorities often live in low socioeconomic nieghborhoods, often attend underfunded schools and are more likely to be mistreated by particular institutions (justice, financial.) AA isn't assuming anyone is less intelligent, but that the lower scores of their transcripts are influenced by social factors outside of the applicant's control.

Also in the news, local police will be randomly stopping the cars of white college students in the area just because they're white. You know, to "raise awareness of racial profiling."

Good joke, not only because its funny, but because it expresses a certain degree of truth.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:08 PM on February 19, 2003


Study after study shows that minorities often live in low socioeconomic nieghborhoods, often attend underfunded schools and are more likely to be mistreated by particular institutions (justice, financial.)

That's exactly why AA should be based on socioeconomic factors and not race. That way all people who are underpriviledged are helped regardless of skin color. The current AA ignores (descriminates against) all the underpriviledged who don't have the right skin color.

AA doesn't need to be racial.
posted by jsonic at 3:25 PM on February 19, 2003


jsonic: I almost agree, there is a strong argument that some other program should replace AA in order to bring disenfranchised people into the educational system. I believe that a program targeting the lowest socioeconomic groups would also help minorities. I don't know if that invalidates AA completely, as there are many factors other then socioeconomic in the relatively low number of minority students. I would like to have a system that provides equal access to an education to everyone who wants one. That, however, is not the current system. The current system favors the affluent and limits choices for everybody else and until that issue is addressed we're going to be stuck arguing about AA.

In Texas they banned AA under George W. The TX legislator then passed a law that gives automatic college admission to all highschool students in the top 10% of their class. Word on the street is that W. signed the law, but wasn't particularly pleased about it.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:21 PM on February 19, 2003


I googled up an article about the Texas 10% program and it wasn't as rosey of a picture as I'd imagined. Anybody else have any good ideas? I think we've debated our way all around the topic, let's debate some solutions and see if anyone can agree on a better system. or just ignore me, really
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:35 PM on February 19, 2003


pardonyou: Maybe it's because the constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of athletic ability or legacy, but contains explicit prohibitions against racial discrimination.

Sorry, there is nothing in the constitution that specifically prohibits racial discrimination. In fact Article I Section 2 of the original constitution says that slaves should be counted as three-fifths of a person for apportionment of representatives. The 13th amendment of 1865 abolished slavery but not racial discrimination. The 14th amendment of 1868 contains the clause "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" but says nothing about race. It was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that issues of racial discrimination were finally addressed, but it is merely a congressional statute and subject to modification by congress.
posted by JackFlash at 5:10 PM on February 19, 2003


And yet, nobody cares when a nightclub announces "boys 10$, girls free"-night.

If being racist means being preoccupied with race, then we are the most racist culture in the world.
posted by spazzm at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2003


Similarly, affirmative action looks blunt at an individual level, but overall has the effect of redressing some of the wrongs done by slavery and discrimination.

Many proponents of AA seem to apply its a payback for crimes of the school systems/govern't in the past. My curiosity as to when we will consider this payback complete.

Sometimes AA is interpreted as paying back slavery. But AA also favors Hispanics; I just wonder how that fits in.

And I also wonder how many and what are the other countries that have AA like the United States.

I fall on no side of this issue yet. I'm just genuinely curious on the answer to these questions.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:53 PM on February 19, 2003


fixed pricing is pretty entrenched in our sense of "fairness" but there's been a movement toward flexible or differential pricing -- like market segmentation, name your price or auction models. it allows companies (or universities :) to capture greater profits, while serving a larger market -- from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs!

The classic prescription for economically efficient pricing---set price at marginal cost---is not relevant for technologies that exhibit the kinds of increasing returns to scale, large fixed costs, or economies of scope found in the telecommunications and information industries. The appropriate guiding principle in these contexts should be that the marginal willingness to pay should be equal to marginal cost. This condition for efficiency can be approximated using differential pricing, and will in fact, be a natural outcome of profit-seeking behavior.
posted by kliuless at 7:11 PM on February 19, 2003


kliuless...as far as I know, "increasing returns to scale, large fixed costs" and the ability to segment a market is not a novel idea - it's only possible when a company has monopolistic control of a market. In fact, this very type of market pricing, in part, led to the Sherman Act and the various antitrust measures in the US today (I believe the specifics were that Standard Oil was selling oil at different prices in different areas of the country depending on how cold it got, but I'm not certain on the details).

I'm pretty sure this type of price structure would violate the antitrust laws on the books if implemented.
posted by Kevs at 8:00 PM on February 19, 2003


it's actually a characteristic of "public goods" beyond the usual definition of non-excludable and non-rival (fireworks displays, national defense, etc.) which generally make them the purview of the government... i guess the point is that education can be considered a public good! or maybe it's a case for universal access to all human knowledge :)
posted by kliuless at 8:23 PM on February 19, 2003


err, non-excludanle and non-rival..!

also see lighthouses and public goods and milton friedman's NIT :)
posted by kliuless at 8:38 PM on February 19, 2003


something somewhat similar was done recently on the CWRU campus. however, the politics of it were different. women were given a discount (i think something like 8%), based on the gender wage gap. i guess the idea was that women earn less, and therefore should pay less too.

i guess these multi-price bakesales are on their way to being the new protest tactic of choice.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:14 PM on February 19, 2003


And yet, nobody cares when a nightclub announces "boys 10$, girls free"-night.

Oh, I do - last year I somewhat noisily boycotted a new nightclub that opened up in my neighborhood with that policy. I don't know if they changed it or not, but I got some discussion going. It had never occured to the club owner that it would bother anyone.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:33 PM on February 19, 2003


And yet, nobody cares when a nightclub announces "boys 10$, girls free"-night.

Because we'd rather pay $10 to go to a club with lots of girls than $5 to go to a club with very few girls.

And I'd rather risk a 20-point handicap applying to a school with affirmative action than apply with no handicap to a school that has very few African-American students.
posted by straight at 11:09 PM on February 19, 2003


The 20 points are not awarded out of the belief that certain minorities are less intelligent and therefore need more help. That, as you point out, would be rascist. The twenty points are awarded as a means of creating a diverse population of educated people.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, nice try but...

AA isn't assuming anyone is less intelligent, but that the lower scores of their transcripts are influenced by social factors outside of the applicant's control.

If the problem is created by social factors then AA should be based upon inclusion in a group that absolutely faces those social factors, not one that may or may not. Basing AA programs solely on race may have been appropriate 30 years ago, but things are changing. Life is not the same for racial minorities now -- largely thanks to AA policies in the past, without question. So why aren't these policies changing with the times and reflecting that skin color is not nearly the guarantee of impoverishment and lack of opportunity as it was in 1960, 1970, even 1980 or 1990? Why aren't these policies changing and reflecting that it is far more disadventageous to be a poor rural white kid from nowheresville West Virginia as it is to be a middle-class black kid from a suburb outside of Washington DC?

What we have right now is a scheme in which two kids can:
- live in the same neighborhood
- have parents earning the same salaries give or take a few thousand per year
- go to the same high school
- earn the same GPA give or take .20
- have SAT scores within 20 points of one another
- comparable extracurricular activities (football vs. basketball, student government vs. peer counselor, forensics vs. drama club)
- similar letters of recommendation from the same people

and one of them ends up with more admission points than the other solely because he's black and supposedly disadvantaged. The system is not progressive, the system is not keeping up with the times, the system is not serving to right a long-standing wrong, it's creating wrongs. It's not creating balance, it's toppling everything over in the opposite direction of wrongness.

Would it not make more sense to Affirmative Action-ize Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in poor & minority areas?

That's the idea behind most voucher programs, the ones that are repeatedly attacked by the exact same people who continue to promote AA programs on the collegiate level.
posted by Dreama at 4:06 AM on February 20, 2003


JackFlash: Sorry, there is nothing in the constitution that specifically prohibits racial discrimination....It was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that issues of racial discrimination were finally addressed, but it is merely a congressional statute and subject to modification by congress.

Sorry, have to disagree with you. The Constitution includes the Amendments. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment has been held to prohibit governmental entities (such as state universitites) from making race-based distinctions. What Michigan (and other AA proponents) argue is that there is a "compelling governmental interest" that justifies making such distinctions notwithstanding the equal protection clause. Such distinctions are (and will be) subject to "strict scrutiny" by the Court. I will concede that my word choice of "explicitly" was poorly chosen.

It's also not true that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first law to address racial discrimination. The AA cases also involve 42 U.S.C. ยง1981, which dates back to 1870. And, as you noted, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:20 AM on February 20, 2003


In a case like the one Dreama describes, the questions are clearly twofold: "Does the simple fact of being non-white -- regardless of any other factors -- create a disadvantage in our society? And if it does, is preferential treatment in university admissions and other programs an appropriate way to compensate for that disadvantage?" Dreama's comment seems to suggest that she thinks the answer to the first question is no. Studies like the recent one indicating an employer preference for "white names" make me less sure.

As to the second question, I just don't know.
posted by nickmark at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2003


I will concede that my word choice of "explicitly" was poorly chosen.

Exactly my point. To say that racial discrimination is explicitly prohibited by the constitution is incorrect. The only thing even close in the constitution is the equal protection clause (14 words) and that is subject to Supreme Court interpretation. That is why affirmative action is a debatable issue, not the slam dunk you seem to imply.
posted by JackFlash at 10:27 AM on February 20, 2003


It looks like the bake sale did take into account other factors in determining the price of the goods. (scroll down to the last letter)
posted by gyc at 12:03 PM on February 20, 2003


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