We've decided as a nation to outlaw discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin. We should fucking act like it. If the Asian kid down the street who spent five hours a night studying gets into Harvard and I don't, that's the way it should be.
Caltech is such a school. And its population is largely largely Asian and Jewish, both demographics Harvard has a history of discriminating against.
I am sure Caltech’s administration is considered hopelessly reactionary, but their graduates have the highest number of Nobel prizes per capita. But again, what sort of merit does a Nobel prize prove? Look at the demographics of the winners.
I'm getting this from a chart about halfway down the the following very long article . (Note: I have not read that article. I just searched for info on Jewish enrollment at colleges, and found that chart).
Harvard's goal, traditionally, has been to [re]produce the ruling class of America, and their admissions criteria are geared accordingly.
- Stanford to produce the ruling class of America, and for
- Harvard to produce the ruling class of Mad Men season 1
(just based on the criteria in the article)
* application score (without race, name, gender, place of origin, etc)
* justice curve (weight score by race, name, gender, place of origin, etc)
The application scoring and justice curves should be carried out by separate impartial groups, with the justice curve preferably applied by a government entity to prevent corruption.
If we truly believe that a student's financial and demographic background have nothing to do with his or her score, then we'd see no statistical evidence of it in achievement tests.
But of course we do. So I think that while your heart is in the right place with respect to fairness, you have overlooked how justice factors in.
Ultimately, we all come from somewhere, and the interactive, dynamic impact of past will impact an individual's future potential.
It's nice to optimize for a static objective problem, like whom to hire or whom to admit. But people are made up from the cumulative and dynamic series of events that began happening long, long before being born. It behooves a stable society to ensure marginalized groups aren't forever left in the cold. This is often expressed with sayings like "losing privilege feels like discrimination."
Think of it this way: in introductory game theory we learn about the Prisoner's Dilemma, where both players are offered a strictly dominating choice -- and so the outcome is entirely predictable. However, what happens when the game framework is repeated indefinitely, without end? The sum of immediate payoffs can be balanced with future payoffs, and different equilibria ("good policy") can be considered (e.g. tit-for-tat). This is not even accounting for further ex-game interaction, which can open more equilibria options.
(I am not claiming that you have to believe that this justifies affirmative action, but you should know that the situation is not as simple as the media talking points would have us believe.)
Would you award me a fields medal, just because I didn't achieve anything since I wasn't taught and guided well regarding mathematics?
Is this the argument that the folks in the lawsuit are making? I don’t think so. The argument to me sounds more like “why can’t Harvard make admissions just based just on a test?”
Short answer: There isn’t a standardized test that does a good job of selecting for the “holistic qualities” that certain schools want. Hence the admissions system that most elite schools use.
> On average, alumni give white and Asian American applicants similar ratings, but Harvard staff give whites substantially better reviews than they give Asian Americans.
Maybe extremely high SAT and grades are correlated with poor 'holistic' qualities such as social skills, communication, leadership, creativity, 'round character' (i.e. athleticism, disposition, generosity, musicianship).
I'm not saying they are - I'm saying it wouldn't really surprise me if they were, and then we have to think about it a little bit!
It's a tricky subject no doubt.
If that were so, it would affect members of all ethnicities who had the same high SAT scores and grades equally.
Even if you're right and extremely high SAT and grades are correlated with neurodiversity, physical problems, or rebelliousness, are those qualities colleges should be discriminating against?
And 'athletic' means 'athletic'?
They are unless you have a heap of evidence to suggest they are not.
And yes, Universities should definitely be considering all of those qualities, most of them do to the extent they can.
Edit: This number is incorrect. Legacy student acceptance rate is 30%, 5 times the alternative. The number of legacy students PRESENT at Harvard is closer to 15%
You're kidding right? That is such a painfully incorrect statement. Intelligence is an incredibly complex hugely conserved trait. Bloodlines and power/intellect passed down through the generations is a great fantasy novel setting, but not so much for reality.
I know it is ideologically uncomfortable but this is a fact you will have to get used to. Cognitive genomics is coming. The undeniable is becoming laughable to deny.
I'm sure at some point in the future, we will be able to genetically engineer our children to be smarter. Yet this is still a completely different idea compared to the paired mating of people which has currently been proposed. Intelligence is something that is incredibly complex, and humans are likely very close if not already at its peak within some local maxima.
If you read the citations you will see this is based on twin adoption studies, which control for confounding variables almost perfectly.
I assure you, ever single objection you can think of off the top of your head has been raised and overcome.
The heritability of IQ is not a conclusion psychologists wanted to affirm. It is fact the field was forced to come to from the data, despite the ideological drifts of the last 50 years yearning (or in the case of Stephen Jay Gould outright falsifying data) for the opposite conclusion.
Any meaningful evidence for a conclusion requires a much better understanding of the brain both biologically and also as a function of general cognition. This will require many more breakthroughs within the fields of biology and computer science. We're definitely getting closer and closer everyday on that front, but as of right now, the tools that we have access to are far too crude in my honest opinion.
Psychology in that respect is akin to the alchemy that was a precursor to chemistry. I'm not saying no real science was done by the alchemists of course, just that it was far and away from what the field of chemistry would ultimately become.
Once we get data sets with millions of genomes tagged with their donors IQ, this number will rise. If we can predict, say, 60% of the variance in IQ (based on the genome alone) will you change you mind?
That is, what sort of data would change your mind?
The point I'm making is in regards to the OP's comment about how people coming from legacy will be much higher due to the fact that smart people reproducing with other smart people greatly increases the chances of producing a resultant smart baby. Random variation has much greater effect in determining the end result of that baby's genome is what I'm saying. You could have paired the person with almost any other human being, and the resultant IQ outcome would be no less likely to occur.
Only through concerted effort to discover and understand how the brain is constructed genetically in addition to developing methodologies for testing changes to those key markers will it be possible to meaningfully alter the statistics of intelligence. Anything else will be lost in the noise primarily because of, again, what I stated above. Intelligence of humans is likely already very close to some local maxima and it is also a highly conserved trait.
Of course it is well known that Harvard's historical admission policy was overtly antisemitic and generally racist, had nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence, and going back far enough was tied to the European Aristocracy. As a result the effect of legacy admissions is actually to perpetuate the effects of those historical policies. Rather than acting as a proxy for intelligence, legacy admissions act as a proxy for membership in a historically privileged class, and basically extends that privilege to the current generation.
Isn’t this the role of the SAT?
I’d be interested to see the data for legacy versus non-legacy SAT scores for applicants, admits, and matriculants.
I’m not defending Harvard’s current admissions policies nor their historical admissions policies, which seem indefensible by modern standards. My interest stems more from the theoretical implications of assortive mating for traits that are both very heriditary and very valued by society (or very deterministic of “success”.)
There is a reason parents enroll their children in SAT prep as early as middle school and even elementary school. Again, let's assume intelligence is hereditary; then an ideal intelligence measurement would be impossible to prepare for, because it should measure something that a person cannot change about themselves (their genes). The fact that SAT prep measurably improves SAT scores says at least one of two things must be true: the SAT is not measuring an innate property, or that intelligence is not simply inherited.
(Spoiler alert: both of those are true.)
The actual purpose of the SAT is to screen students for a minimum educational background needed to complete a four-year degree at an American college. It only applies to a typical American education, and only to certain specific aspects of that education (there is no section on music, art, history, etc.).
I take it you're saying the SAT math section is a good measure of intelligence for all the kids that went to high school.
Also note that a full 70% of legacies are denied admission. Being a legacy is hardly a golden ticket.
We are also not talking about "one kid," we are talking about 14 percent of their student body. Harvard does not get a new library or big donation for every one of the hundreds of legacies it admits each year. What is the cost/benefit analysis of having having such a large fraction of the incoming class held to a lower standard?
I'm not sure exactly what Harvard's mission statement is, but if the money that comes with a legacy student is enough, then taking on the student is almost certainly a good way to advance the mission.
(Not claiming this is shocking news.)
Boy! The sociologists of the future are going to have a field day. I can’t wait. After all, back then college authorities said “most Jews are socially untrained” and “the social characteristics of the Jews are peculiar”, and they did use precisely the same language about outside interests. We’re going to look like complete morons for having bought this bullshit story college authorities are selling.
Anyway, I leave you with an excerpt from Harvard President Lowell’s remarkable letter from the 1920s extolling the virtues of quotas limiting Jewish enrollment
> The anti-Semitic feeling among the students is increasing, and it grows in proportion to the increase in the number of Jews. If their number should become 40 per cent of the student body, the race feeling would become intense. When on the other hand, the number of Jews was small, the race antagonism was small also. . . . If every college in the country would take a limited proportion of Jews, I suspect we should go a long way toward eliminating race feeling among the students, and as these students passed out into the world, eliminating it in the community.
As of today, a large number of the Chinese PhDs are returning back to China to develop technology there because they find the climate (social / political ) too apprehensive and demeaning.
> non-academic factors, including athletics, character, and family connections
Rural and elite students, but NOT children of engineers?
>Harvard’s open preference for... strong athletes and the children of alumni, faculty, and donors... Harvard may, for example, favor students from rural communities and disfavor the children of engineers.
Growing up in a rural area, 'Harvard' is just some place you hear about from TV, few think they can get it. In a way it's kind of like economic classism, but from a different angle.
As for 'family' ... Queen's U in Ontario does this because they think there is value to that kind of coherence. I believe this to be true, at least to the point wherein a Uni should be able to do this if they want. Obviously, problems arise when it gets to elitism (!) but at face value there's something to it.
It's a tricky subject no matter what. Admissions at Harvard has to be in some ways one of the worst jobs in the world as I suggest they'll be right in the middle of the culture wars from here on in.
But the true outcome of failing to consider half of the achievement equation is a regression toward incompetence, as we effectively hold back those who can in a vain attempt to bring up those who cannot. All of society then suffers in the name of a false, unattainable equality.
What would the response be either in mainstream media or social media or from proponents of Affirmative Action policies, if African-American or Hispanic applicants or other demographic groups (e.g. women) were given measurably lower scores on personality traits Harvard rates like 'likability' or 'integrity' or 'helpfulness'?
This is a crucial point. Contextually framing an analysis, and it's results, is one of the most important parts of a project. In this case, it also forces the question - what does it mean for an admissions process to be biased?
> Certain private universities, most notably Harvard, introduced policies which effectively placed a quota on the number of Jews admitted to the university. According to historian David Oshinsky, on writing about Jonas Salk, "Most of the surrounding medical schools (Cornell, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Yale) had rigid quotas in place. In 1935 Yale accepted 76 applicants from a pool of 501. About 200 of those applicants were Jewish and only five got in." He notes that Dean Milton Winternitz's instructions were remarkably precise: "Never admit more than five Jews, take only two Italian Catholics, and take no blacks at all." As a result, Oshinsky added, "Jonas Salk and hundreds like him" enrolled in New York University instead. Physicist and Nobel laureate Richard P. Feynman was turned away from Columbia College in the 1930s and went to MIT instead. See also Numerus clausus in the United States.
Trigger warning: as an Asian, I don’t care about helping Black and Latino people if it means hurting me, and especially when society has already chosen not to exert equivalent unfair treatment on another race (and the optics are especially not great when said race can be lumped in as ‘White’).
You do not have to agree with those points, but you should at least know what it is that you are disagreeing with.
Also, as a Jew, I would rather not see minority groups using the history of antisemitism as a wedge against other minorities. While everyone is arguing about affirmative action, Harvard is admitting "legacy" students simply because their parents happened to attend Harvard, which helps to lengthen the effects of Harvard's discriminatory policies against earlier generations (to the detriment of Jewish, Asian, Black, and Latino applicants).
“Diversity” in elite colleges is a scam, essentially rich urban whites throwing poor rural whites under the bus to give themselves a good conscience. Most of the “African-American” candidates have either one white parent of are of Caribbean origin, not the descendants of slaves, and the bonus for them is not means-tested. Don’t expect to find many kids from inner-city ghettoes or the barrio there.
It’s easy to get statistics on racial diversity at US universities but getting numbers on socio-economic diversity is like pulling teeth. SFFA’s suggestion to give a bonus to poor students has a lot of merit, but of course it would upset the elite apple cart at Harvard, which is why they resist it so strenuously.
Dude, seriously? Educate yourself, FFS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_British_and_Fre...
I'm curious, what would be the rationale behind this?
Also, as a Jew, I would rather not see people act as if anti-Jewish discrimination is so special that we somehow cannot look to that history for lessons on any issue that is not anti-Jewish discrimination. Be happy that (in this country) the overwhelming majority of people have come to accept that anti-semitism is wrong, and lets leverage that to help other groups. There was a lot of suffering to get that recognition for Jews. There was a lot of suffering to get that recognition for Blacks. Maybe we can short circuit some of the suffering this time around for the next group. 
 Although, frankly, I doubt we will see a turn around in our view of Asians anytime soon. If there is one thing I have learned from American History, it is that anti-Asian sentiments seems to be immune from social pushback for some reason.
If this mess with Asians isn’t truly a double standard against non-Whites, then you should be willing to accept the same treatment for the same reasons we supposedly think it’s okay to do it to Asians. If you wouldn’t be comfortable with that, your argument isn’t very useful because you clearly haven’t empathized far enough to understand how we feel.
I understand your complaint, I just think you are focusing on the wrong problem and greatly over-simplifying the situation. Harvard's exclusion of Jews took the form of an explicit quota, and was specifically intended to benefit White Christian students (except for Italian Catholics, but back then Italians were not considered to be "White") and to prevent the student body from becoming too diverse (at the time they would not even consider Black applicants). Your complaint is over subjective admissions criteria that are intended to support a diverse student body. I also think it is a mistake to focus on affirmative action when "legacy" admissions comprise 14 percent of the student body -- surely that is even more unfair to people who worked hard for years.
I. Don’t. Care. I want fair treatment today. Now. While I’m still alive. Stop using my race against me. It’s wrong. As a society, we DECIDED it’s wrong a long time ago.
You want fair treatment? So do I. The thing is, I never knew my father growing up. Are you going to find someone to be a dad for every child in that situation? My mom worked the night shift at a blue-collar job and was not always there to keep me focused on my homework; are you going to find someone to supervise every child in that situation? Was it fair that I had to compete with people who did not have to deal with those disadvantages growing up?
Meritocracy sounds appealing in theory but falls apart in practice because we live in a society that only nominally respects "merit" and where some teenagers have to deal with racism that other teenagers do not have to deal with. There is no fair definition of "merit" because everyone has a different set of circumstances in their lives, different obstacles to overcome, and different opportunities to shine. It is fine if you object to affirmative action or if you think there is some better system that should be implemented, but don't make the mistake of thinking that there is some way to treat everyone fairly.