Skip to comments.Admitting Stupidity
Posted on 07/23/2003 12:27:02 PM PDT by Alec Mouhibian
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By Alec Mouhibian, Liberty Magazine (August, 2003)
Yes, you heard correctly: shoot me. Some people need money, companionship, spiritual enlightenment, purpose with which to fulfill their livesbut right now all I need is a bullet. Not a fatal one, to be sure; you can lodge it in my leg or my foot orwait! Ive got it: bust it right in the Salisbury sweet-spot, smack dab in the middle of it, so that way itll clog my waste-depository organs, causing me to become obese and to suffer all the wonderful complexes, dilemmas and psychological traumas that come with it!
Crazy? Nuts? Have I cracked my crock?
Hell, no. Im just trying to get into college.
Spoilage in an institution is like J. Lo in her Grammy attireits visible at all levels. It should thus be no surprise that the ardent backlash against reason and values in academia can be traced right to the forefront of its pearly gates, and the guidelines for admission into the ivory that lies beyond them.
An article in the July 12, 2002, Wall Street Journal (the source, unless otherwise noted, of all quotations here) reported the adoption of a new admissions system by the University of California, which has been applied most essentially in its two elite schools, UCLA and UC Berkeley. The main feature of this new system: a beefy portion of credit allotted for a category entitled life challenges. The definition of life challenges: a wide range of personal, family or psychological obstacles, among them immigration hardships, living in a high-crime neighborhood [and] having been a victim of a shooting.
Told you not to go scavenging for my marbles.
The reason, as served up by Carla Ferri, director of UC undergraduate admissions, is: You bring in students that can tackle the academic programs with enthusiasm, with strength and with purpose. Thats what were looking for. (The question of how this enthusiasm, strength and purpose is going to magically appear in a tough university atmosphere, when it hasnt been enough to sustain a requisite performance in a low-level high school, goes unanswered.)
The result, as anyone could guess, has been an encouragement and subsequent dysentery-like profusion of the Halle Berry syndrome. The new standard has led to a flood of sob stories on college-application essays, in some cases after university staffers have coached minority students on how to identify and present their hardships. The UC system spends $85 million a year on its outreach program. The outreach workers, Besides helping college-bound students pick courses coach them on how to write the essays that are a part of their college applications. One such outreach worker from UCLA, reports the article, recently gave students at a high school examples of life challenges that could help the students gain admission, such as having to do homework in the bathroom for lack of any other quiet place to study. (Presumably as an explanation for why it always turns out like....)
If youve suffered any hardship, youd better emphasize it. If you havent, youd better make one up. And if youre wondering how any of this can possibly be spot-checked, youre not alone.
(It currently isnt by the UCs. Nor can it be. Only gunshots are even feasibly provable, by way of a photo of the wounded body-part. But even then whos to tell from a picture that somebodys scarred ass-cheek isnt actually a boot-spurred consequence of a western-themed prom night gone awry?)
The universal admissions slogan about the purpose of the college-application, getting to know more about you, really means: getting to know more about what you think may have screwed you over.
One need not ponder much about the implications of encouraging and basing admission-criteria on mope over merit, tears over temerity, sob over substance and, most bluntly of all, excuse over excellence. Its more pernicious than merely acting as a clinic for irresponsibility; its a dagger in the heart of those students who hold any degree of dignity or integrity. The article mentions such a person, Ms. Hyejin Jae, who was spurned by both Berkeley and UCLA despite a swell GPA and a 1410 SAT score, because she didnt want to shed light on the fact that shes the daughter of a struggling Korean-immigrant pastor. I didnt want too much of a pity party, she said.
Too bad for her. Because the entire university mantra is one big pity party, and its effects stretch beyond giving its victims bad hangovers. How do you think rewarding admission on the basis of whose essays most accurately reflect the plots of bad made-for-TV Lifetime movies affects the attitudes of students like Ms. Jaeboth to the universities they should be looking forward to and the state of academe in general?
This isnt to say that real hardships should not be mentioned, or that having survived through an unfavorably dealt hand says nothing about ones character. However, the proper context for such information is only as an addition to merit, not a replacement for it. Assuming the fullest legitimacy of the hardship claims, all that penalizing the more skilled and merited for the misfortune of the significantly less merited does, is restrict the former from achieving the accomplishments which benefit the latter most of all. Just imagine your brother dying under the knife of a negligent brain-surgeon. How sympathetic would you be if the surgeons excuse was that he had to write his med-school papers with Lysol?
Nevertheless, Ms. Ferris rationale explains why, as the article reports, Bianca Martinez (daughter of a breast-cancer patient) got admitted to UCLA with an 1110 SAT score, Dania Medina (whose sister has Down syndrome) with an 1100, and Rosaura Novelo and Susana Pena (both daughters of lower-income fathers) with sewer-pit scores of 980 and 940, respectively, while the average accepted SAT score at UCLA is around 1350.
But wait. Even in this already muddled oil paintingconsidered so beautiful and so touching by so manythere are a few confusingly changing colors. For you see, this rationale does not quite explain why Stanley Park, who had to tutor in order to pay the rent for his breast-cancer infected single mother, while scoring a whopping 1500 on the SAT, got rejected by both Berkeley and UCLA. Nor does it explain why Ms. Jae was still turned down after an appeal.
Ah, but then we find that there is another, alternate purpose to the hardships criterion behind sensitive sentiment: to make the student body as reflective as possible of the states population.
So as it turns out, the new hardships jargon is, for the most part, just a bunch of California hot air. The program is really affirmative action under a different gift-wrappingone made modestly, to be sure, from recycled brown paper bags and a worn shoestring for a ribbon. Its yet another loophole to the racial-preferences-barring Proposition 209, passed in the golden state in 1996. And to that effect, both Mr. Park and Ms. Jae suffer hopelessly from being Korean.
Since the expressed purpose of the elite universities is now to be populace-demographic replicas rather than institutions of intellectual harvest and exchange, UC was disturbed by the finding that simply using poverty as an index of disadvantage would reduce diversity, because it wouldnt help middle-class blacks and Hispanics and it would pull in lots of low-income Asians. What does this revelation entailbesides heavily challenging the role of income in a students academic potential and revealing that the true victims of the anti-merit criteria are those who have suffered the hardships yet persisted to excel anyway?
It entails a retreatback into the hollow anachronistic confines of preferential treatment; of the truly despicable and unjustifiable spectacle that is judgment by pigmentation.
Apparently, the so-called outreach programs are nothing but nouveau underground railroads to usher in increases in under-represented racial and ethnic minority participation in postsecondary education, according to a university blueprint. As a former Berkeley admissions director informed the WSJ, the University of California is under tremendous pressure from Hispanic legislators to show that the big investment in outreach is paying off in higher Latino enrollment. Ergo, the programs are offered only at low-rated high schools, and admission points are automatically rewarded to all who join.
In point of fact, this isnt a retreat at all. For UC never really left the rotten practice of racial preferences in the first place. As of last year, UC doubled the weight of the SAT II subject tests, one of which is Spanish (as a foreign language). In fall of 2001, the average SAT score of Hispanics who got into UCLA was 116824 points below the average white-or-Asian who got rejected and 181 points below those accepted. Even greater disparities exist with black students. Proposition 209 has been observed at a rate ranking somewhere alongside the anti-sodomy laws in Texas. The results, alas, compare almost identically.
All of this is hardly unique to Berkeley and UCLA. Affirmative action (and the hardships hullabaloo as well, to a lesser extent), officially or not, stands tall at just about every elite university in the nation, as one can easily find by merely viewing the average differences in the SAT and GPAs of non-minorities (whites or Asians) and minorities (blacks or Hispanics) enrolled.
The celebrity AA case whose fishnet-clad gams currently occupy the national spotlight involves the University of Michigan. The admission-values formula for Michigan is as follows: 80 points for a perfect G.P.A, 20 for being a minority, 20 for being a scholarship athlete, 12 for a perfect SAT score, 4 for being the child of an alumnus, 3 for an outstanding essay, and bonus points for socioeconomic status and other characteristics.
No artist in the world could draw such a clear illustration of absurdity for caring eyes to see. According to Michigans code of values, your skin-shade is twice as important as being superbly intelligent (as only those who even score near perfect on the SAT can be)and nearly seven times more important than having remarkable writing skills and a demonstrable grasp of the English language. Therefore, found a study by the Center for Equal Opportunity, the odds of being admitted if you were a black student with the same qualifications as a white applicant were 174-to-1. The median SAT score of admitted blacks being 230 points below that of whites; with the average GPA lagging by a half-point from a four-point system.
The great retreat that is AA is in full gear, and despite the many roadblocks of public outrage it has encountered, it continues ever backwarddozing on through the gates of graduate schools, plunging recklessly into the damp, desultory abyss that awaits it.
What is this abyss, exactly?
Like most progressive causes, affirmative action could not be more ancient if it were a sensible Parisian thought. Its primary basis is the same that ruled the societies of status in the past: that it is legitimate to evaluate an individual based entirely on factors over which he has no control; not now, not then and, as Michael Jackson would surely be willing to tell you, not ever. Whether that factor is color, caste or creed, the principle is the same: preordination above personal quality. In other words: collective judgment versus individual evaluation.
When the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they established a society based on value, for the first time in history, as a national principle. As those finely-penned signatures were drawn on the sacred documents, the fate of the age-old institution of racism was sealed under D for doomed, devastated and disqualifiedeven if many people were yet to realize it. The sentiments the Founders espoused were the matches that lit the fire of the passionate and philosophical abolitionist movement which, while certainly brewing before, flourished almost immediately after Independence Day. It was this abolitionist movement, and not what it sought to abolish, that was unique to America.
Booker T. Washington realized this. He realized that the only way to crack the stale notion of racism was to expose its contradiction with Americana in the purest, most powerful way. Washington called for a mass demonstration. A cry to actually demonstrateskills, talents, work ethic, value. What Booker T. advocated, in essence, was a direct appeal to the principles fought for by that other Washington before him.*
Booker T.s famous slogan was that the necessity for blacks was not to whine or seek government coercion, but prepare to compete in the market. The free-market knows only objective value, not color, and as such Washington explicitly saw it as the arena for the demise of racism. (It is appropriate to mention here that some of the most vehement intellectual voices in favor of abolition came from the free-market economists, such as John Stuart Mill, which prompted the pro-slavery Thomas Carlyle to call economics the dismal science.)
The results of this former slaves efforts were magnificently visible. One was the Tuskegee Institute, which he founded with the donations of whites and blacks, workers and industrialists alike; the amount of those donations ranging from a single calf of a black farmer to $25,000 given by Andrew Carnegie for the construction of the schools building. The Institute became one of the premier schools in the country, setting the precedent for a number of other black schools (e.g., Dunbar High School in Washington D.C., and the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem) which came to be regarded just as highly.
Washington summarized his view of the racial question this way:
I think the whole future of my race hinges on the question as to whether or not it can make itself of such indispensable value that the people in the town and the state where we reside will feel that our presence is necessary to the happiness and well-being of the community. No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual, and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is long left without proper reward.**
This was the spirit which fostered and characterized a number of prosperous black towns in the early twentieth century. It provided a sense of value to the black community which led to a marriage rate higher than that of whites from 1880-1940a period in which all but 19 percent of black children were born to married parents, while today all but 30 percent arent (a considerable difference, since illegitimacy has been proven to be the main root of modern black plight). It fueled the ignition of a black rise into the middle-class from 1940-1960, during which the black poverty rate fell from 87 percent to 47 percent (despite notable racial barriers); not to mention a pervading wholesomeness that made poor black neighborhoods relatively safe and crimeless throughout both those time spans, when the term gangbang was predominantly equated with Rice-a-Roni-rhyming last names.
Even mentioning such a savagely retrograde concept as racial-preferences in the same breath as the sublime founding principles and Booker T. Washington is cause enough to cringe. That it is promoted by those who are labeled champions of progress and equality, is cause to heave. For racial-preferences is racism by any definition.
Modern America recognizes racism as any discrimination based on color or ethnicity, and preferences clearly meet that standard. But more importantly and insultingly, racial-preferences are premised on the purest kind of racism: the belief that certain races are innately inferior, needing lowered standards and expectations if ever to have a chance (or color the scenery, as the diversity-dolts would have it).
This is the attitude of most guilt-gagged white liberals, though they try to only admit it amongst themselves on the sidelines at little Tailors AYSO game or in line to declare bankruptcy at the sperm bank. Inevitably, however, it breaks out in the open, such as in 1995 when former Rutgers University president France Lawrence told a faculty meeting: The average SAT (score) for African-Americans is 750. Do we set standards in the future so we dont admit anybody? Or do we deal with a disadvantaged population that doesnt have that genetic, hereditary background to have a higher average?
Once upon a time, beholders of this doctrine were called White Supremacists, and later, Nazis. Today, theyre called civil rights advocates, while labeling opponents of their doctrine racists, and getting away with it! In any case, theyre nothing but condescending self-supremaciststhe elitist-intellectuals.
Keeping in mind that it expresses the core assumptions of affirmative action, examine Mr. Lawrences statement once more. Especially the last sentence. What does it imply? Not only that blacks are genetically inferior, but that the success of anyone is determined, not by his actions and merits, but his genetic code. It implies not only that blacks need lowered standards, but that the success of any black person is thanks only to a handout by their all-knowing, all-loving white guardian angels. (This last is again revealed explicitly when anti-AA black successes are countered with explanations about how they would still be ridin lo with sweet chariot if not for affirmative action.)
Just look at the latest hysterical crusade to ban the SAT test. Apparently, the SAT is an Anglophile. Why? Because certain minorities dont do as well on it. Ergo, its culturally-biased. Such a claim is automatically disproven by the fact that Asians and Caribbean blacks both routinely outperform whites on the aptitude test. But forget the proofthe only way that a math-and-grammar exam is inherently biased against certain races is if an innate characteristic of those races is stupidity!
Frederick Douglass, the famous black abolitionist-activist, once passionately proclaimed: If the Negro cannot stand on his legs, then let him fall! How does the predestination- and preordination-oriented AA fare with Douglass, his old abolitionist movement, and the principle of freedom for responsibility it fought for?*
Affirmative Action, however, is not merely making Frederick Douglass spin in his grave like a dreidel on speed. For, also like most progressive causes, racial preferences most harm the very people they are purported to protect. This is due to the simple fact which preference-proponents Jesse Jackson and Kweisi Mfume would otherwise surely admit: that its much easier to get in than pull out, intact.
Nationally, only 30 percent of black freshman graduate in four years, compared to 60 percent of whites. Stretch it to six years, and the proportion remains one-sided: roughly two-thirds of blacks to 90 percent of whites. At UCLA, the majority of blacks and Hispanics are taking remedial math and science courses. The numbers are also high at Berkeley, and were much higher before Prop. 209.
The reason for this is that the true saga of affirmative action centers on the elite universities, and who gets into them. The practice of preferences designates many black and Hispanic students into schools they are unfit and unprepared to compete in. Since you cant throw a cocker spaniel into a pack of huskies and not expect rabies to ensue, consequently, the victim-beneficiaries find themselves in an atmosphere which frequently assures their failure. Its a waste.
To the temporary extent that Proposition 209 was observed in California, the number of black students enrolled in the UC system rose, even though their enrollment at Berkeley and UCLA dropped. The students were attending the universities in the system for which they were more aptly suited. As a result, UC San Diego, having had only one black freshman honor student out of a 3,268-strong class a year before the proposition (a GPA of 3.5 and up being the honors-qualifier), by 1998 had fully 20 percent of black freshman riding the honor rollthe same proportion as that of whites. No longer were potential UCSD honor-rollees sweltering under the bogs of Berkeley.
Thinking of the highly-purposed legislators pushing to enforce these quota systems, one cant help but wonder if they ever devote a pennys worth of consideration to the consequences of their escapades, or whether they even care.
Any notion that they actually do care, beyond entertaining a justification for power and purpose, must be abandoned in light the experience of the last forty years. It has been the anti-American actions of the statist intellectuals and politicians during this periodthe defeatist, disparaging, racial-warfare attitude theyve promoted; the irresponsibility and decadence their welfare programs sponsored and created incentive for; the lowered standards theyve enforced; and the ostentatious failure of the monopolized public schools they run which have been the causes for why so many blacks are so disparately under-prepared and outperformed in the first place.
If the well-being of black people truly concerned these welfare-statists, they would have long-since noticed the failure of their grand orchestrations, and advocate a change in order. It mightve behooved them, for example, to notice that the vast majority of the impoverished and criminal come from fatherless homes, that the incomes of two-parent households are nearly equal for both black and white*and realize how decades of their impositions have led to only one-third of black children being raised in two-parent homes. A real concern might prompt them to see how their monopolized inner-city public schools, which poor minorities can least afford to avoid, have resulted in 63 percent of black fourth graders being unable to readand adopt a different approach. It just might dawn on them that their welfare state created a poverty-cycle of dependency which sucks up every welfare-recipient like a tornado; that a decent reduction in its force like the Welfare Reform Act liberated half its victims from the endless impoverished swirland how enacting further reductions might just be the wise thing to do.
If this were to happen, whining about disparities would be replaced with actually uncovering their roots. The truth about the bureaucratic reach-out-and-touch mentality would surface: that wed all be much better off if the legislators would reach out and touch themselves (if they havent cleverly created zoning laws to prohibit themselves from doing so).
This, of course, will never happen. The self-purpose of the statist-intelligentsia rely heavily on their wish to make the decisions for everyone else, and the reality that those decisions have been major failures is not one they will entertain.
Its much easier to blame it all on social circumstance.
It is impossible for the admissions process to be completely objective. A general manager cant look only at scoring averages when constructing a basketball team; lest he end up with thirteen shooting-guards. Universities have holes to fill. This is understandable. They need students with different types of talent and different fields of academic interest, and fulfilling such a need inevitably results in discrepancies in the test scores and GPAs between the admitted and the forbidden. But such discrepancies are like Michael Moores wit in their slightness, and are definitely not the problem.
The problem is enforced diversity, not of intellect and interest, but in levels of intellect and interest. The problem is a formula under which ability becomes liability, character is sacrificed to victimology, and independence succumbs to preordained grouping. These traits are most bluntly manifest in racial-preferences and the hardships system. But just as the admissions process is an example of the pervading decay of academe, so are there pervading consequences of the decay of the admissions process. Now, most universities award admission points for community service, while disregarding paid employment. That is, singing jingles to homeless whales is valued more highly than being a productive contributor to society.
Perhaps it was stupid of me to expect otherwise. Knowing what is known about the depravity of academe, maybe it was outright dumb. At least Im willing to admit it. If only the elitist-intelligentsia would do the same.
But because they wont, institutions once devoted to preparing students for and teaching them the mastery of reality continue down a highway of anathema to reality, with all its laws and ramifications, its requisites of reason and logic. As does the method by which young minds, rather than being taught how to mold the facts of nature, are molded into helpless dependents. As does the piling on of the victims, both betrayed competent and shammed incompetent. As does my search for a loaded 0.9mm in time for appeals.
* To see Booker T. Washingtons appeal in action, I suggest you read his autobiography, Up From Slavery.
** That is, of course, only in a community which values materials, intelligence, and morality. Such is not and has not been the case in many countries which have ruthlessly persecuted their most productive minorities for religious, ethnic, and envious reasonse.g., Malaysia, old Eastern Europe, and Ottoman Turkey, where it was more valuable to be a little boy than a talented man. Incidentally, those persecuted minoritiesChinese, Jews, Greeks and Armenians, respectivelyall found productive and peaceful homes from which theyve prospered in America.
* Here you can also ask yourself which is the most dangerous kind of racism. The racial-hatred kind, which is miniscule and inconsequential today, confined mainly to a bunch of dimwits who arent satisfied with celebrating Halloween just once a year? Or the intellectual inferiority kind, which has the self-proclaimed superiors attempting to enslave the inferiors on the basis that they know whats best for them?
* In 1995, the median black two-parent family income was $41,307, while the white two-parent median was $47,000. But this slight disparity can be easily attributed to the fact that most black people live in the south, where wages are lowerand that, during the previous year, black two-parent families out earned white two-parent families in roughly 130 cities and counties.
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What a great article and a great post.
The dumbing down of America continues in runaway fashion.
BTTT for a great read.
Well, with any luck, all writing will be outsourced to India and you won't have a job like the rest of America.
Well, at least I rest happy in the knowledge that time will wound them with paunch, fading eyesight, and progressive obsolescence.
Kinda like how it did to us.
Welcome to the crazy world of college admissions!
Here's an assignment for "extra credit": Using a "strict construction" of the fourteenth amendment's equal protection clause, see if you can explain why a state college should be permitted to discriminate on the basis of grades or SAT scores but not on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Thanks for the ping!! I'll keep my eye out for more articles by this guy.
Choose the compliment, it fits. This is a phenomenal article.
Yeah, IF we can get our bifocals on, and IF the nurse wheels us around so we can see them, and IF our dentures hold, we'll be able to cackle at them.
This is a key statement. There are only about 201,000 students total registered with the UC system for 2003. Make a broad assumption that one quarter of those are freshman (the other three quarters being non-freshman undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral). So, $85M divided by 50K equals $1700 per student per YEAR spent on this stuff. Of course, only a fraction of those 50K students needed the services of this outreach program, so on a per student basis of those who need the services (say 10%), this works out to be $17,000 per outreach student. Tax dollars at work, I presume.
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