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Thread: Affirmative Action

  1. #101
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    Meh....there was one if my favorite posts on this very website years ago about this subject. Advice given to the college applicant was to check the box of whatever race he thought may increase his chances of being accepted. Let them go ahead and question/prove he wasn't who he says he was.


    The justification I continuously hear is the value that diversity provides. What exactly is that value and how is it measured?

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by FF2® View Post
    That's not his argument at all. Heart surgery...I want the best in the room. edumacatuin is a different animal. Diverse student base certainly does provide a superior experience. Unless you thing college is just what happens in he classroom.
    This. I'm a better man (and better attorney, IMO) for having been exposed to a wide range of viewpoints - religious, ethnic, and yes, racial - in my college and law school years. I understand more about the world, about how others perceive it, and about how others perceive me and my perceptions of it, than I would have had I been educated in a more racially, religiously or ethnically homogenous school.

    That's not just theory talking, btw. There's one school that leaps out to my mind as dramatically non-diverse, and it's one that many of my friends went to: Yeshiva University. It's a terrific school, and as a religious jew it has very strong points in its favor (tremendous torah scholars and structured jewish learning along with a strong secular education, strong Jewish community, no conflicts with Jewish holidays, kosher food, etc.). But it definitely lacks the broadening character of, say, my undergrad alma mater, Queens College - and I've seen the impact of that on a number of people who went there. While that's not to say every YU student comes out that way - living in NY there's a pretty good chance that your extra-collegiate life will have some diversity in it - a fair number do.

    It's absolutely clear to me, empirically, that a diverse student body conveys educational benefits.

    How diverse the student body needs to be, whether concessions need to be made on particular students to achieve that diversity, what scope of concessions a school is willing to accept, at what point those concessions become sufficiently cruel to the admitted student to outweigh the benefit to the student body as a whole (if the kid is going to fail out, bringing him in to enhance diversity may be better for the student body, but it's awful for the kid in question) . . . those are all valid and important questions, even after concluding that diversity itself is important in the educational context.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    I don't think there's ever such a thing as a "post-racial" society. And if there is, I don't think any external tool will make it happen (or prevent it from happening).

    I always thought affirmative action was meant to level the playing field to overcome racism and descrimination. If you believe this tool will not make it happen or prevent it from happening why should we institutionalize it if it serves no purpose other then to maintain diversity?

  4. #104
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    BTW, here's why college is a different animal on this subject.

    College is about preparing students for life and careers in the real world. Part of that preparation is exposure to a wide range of viewpoints and experiences. And yes, the black or hispanic kid who lived next door to me had different experiences than me merely by virtue of being black or hispanic, even if everything else about our socioeconomic status was the same. Not better or worse - but different. Maybe it's just hearing about - and then worrying about - being stopped for Driving While Black (this law review article from 1999 has some good statistics and a Johnnie Cochran story at the very beginning that is a good example of the impact such things can have), or a hispanic citizen worrying, rightly or wrongly, about the same thing happening to them under Arizona's immigration law. Maybe it's a greater educational focus on events impacting their ethnic group when they were raised (I have no doubt I know more about Jewish history than 'Fish, and equally little doubt he knows more about Scottish history than me). But people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds really do bring different perspectives to the table.

    And those perspectives exist in the real world. Encountering them, and engaging with them, is part of the education provided by a good college. Narrowmindedness can lead to bad decisions and failure.

    Outside of college? It's not about preparation or education, it's about results. And - aside from jobs that require specific racial or ethnic skillsets (outreach to the black or czech community, for example, will likely always be done by a black or czech) - race and ethnicity are irrelevant to results. When I'm picking a doctor, or a lawyer, or an accountant, I'm not looking for (or to provide) a learning experience. I'm looking for medical, legal, and accounting help. And I want the best provider I can afford. Race, ethnicity, geographical background . . . none of that matters.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    This.....
    It's clear that we do not agree on even the basics of this issue.

    Suffice it to say, agree to disagree. It is my position that you are supporting outright institutional racism. Your intentions are good (I believe that), but as they say "the road to hell.....".

    Racism is wrong. Even if the intentions are good. Even if one thinks the outcome (the dreaded "the greater good" argument, the bane of liberty and the individual and his/her rights) is good. It's still wrong to judge a man or woman by their skin tone, instead fo who and what they are and what they've done to EARN entry/admittence.

    I think you've deeply misjudged what diversity means in the real world. I think you lack the same compassion for the victims of this policy that you'd have for other victims of racism, specificly because the only victims are white males, and I think you overemphasisize the misguided idea that simply being black or hispanic makes you more "diverse" than an equivalent white or other, and hence more worthy that an equivalent or even superior white candidate.

    Like all racism, this one too will eventually have repurcussions that will have to be faced, and it does what all racism does, it perpetually renews the divisions between us instead of promoting true equality.

    Appreciate the debate Doggin, but I can't disagree any more strongly with you on this, like immigration. We simply see teh world from two very different sets of eyes, and two very different sets of life experiences.

    Funny, that makes you and I, two white men, rather diverse actually.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    I always thought affirmative action was meant to level the playing field to overcome racism and descrimination. If you believe this tool will not make it happen or prevent it from happening why should we institutionalize it if it serves no purpose other then to maintain diversity?
    It was, when first enacted. And then - relatively soon after the end of slavery and segregation - it was necessary. Today? Not so much. Generations of Americans have been raised believing in MLK's dream - to the point that skin color really has become irrelevant, to most people, to who can do the job. There's a generation or two still hanging on at the end of their lives for whom that's not true, and that's where you'll find "leveling" affirmative action devotees (and the motivation). But personally, I'm not in favor of that

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    It was, when first enacted. And then - relatively soon after the end of slavery and segregation - it was necessary. Today? Not so much. Generations of Americans have been raised believing in MLK's dream - to the point that skin color really has become irrelevant, to most people, to who can do the job. There's a generation or two still hanging on at the end of their lives for whom that's not true, and that's where you'll find "leveling" affirmative action devotees (and the motivation). But personally, I'm not in favor of that
    So if we agree the legislative intent was met and it is now being used simply to promote diversity, why should the Supreme Court uphold it?

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    So if we agree the legislative intent was met and it is now being used simply to promote diversity, why should the Supreme Court uphold it?
    That question is a non-sequitur. There's no legislative issue involved here at all; this is a state school that - consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Grutter v. Bolinger, has voluntarily chosen to use race as a factor in admissions for purposes of generating a diverse student body.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    That question is a non-sequitur. There's no legislative issue involved here at all; this is a state school that - consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Grutter v. Bolinger, has voluntarily chosen to use race as a factor in admissions for purposes of generating a diverse student body.
    Quick question, as i find your opinion on this rather interesting..

    First let me see if i understand your premise.

    1.) The value of diversity (and what constitutes diversity) is subjective.

    2.) Many college's feel that admitting students from differing races will improve diversity and therefore the education of all of their students.

    3.) Therefore the court cannot step in and tell college's how to run their admission system in this case, as it is an instance of applying subjective valuations in order to improve the education of their students.


    That makes sense to an extent. However it occurs to me that if the above three points are true the following must also be true.

    1.) If the value of diversity is subjective, a college may decide diversity is not valuable, and in fact a deterrent to achieving their educational goals.

    2.) Therefore those colleges may decide to limit diversity by being "uniformity consciousness", and making it significantly easier for students of the same race, sex, religion and background to gain admittance.

    3.) Since this is still an admission system based on the subjective value of diversity, the court should not be allowed to interfere.


    I have a feeling that the second scenario, that could be used to fill up a public institution with white males, by preferring them over minorities, would be ill received. However i cannot see how the principles that would allow it differ at all from those you use to defend "race conscious" admittance policies in public universities schools.

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    Quick question, as i find your opinion on this rather interesting..

    First let me see if i understand your premise.

    1.) The value of diversity (and what constitutes diversity) is subjective.

    2.) Many college's feel that admitting students from differing races will improve diversity and therefore the education of all of their students.

    3.) Therefore the court cannot step in and tell college's how to run their admission system in this case, as it is an instance of applying subjective valuations in order to improve the education of their students.
    About right.


    That makes sense to an extent. However it occurs to me that if the above three points are true the following must also be true.

    1.) If the value of diversity is subjective, a college may decide diversity is not valuable, and in fact a deterrent to achieving their educational goals.

    2.) Therefore those colleges may decide to limit diversity by being "uniformity consciousness", and making it significantly easier for students of the same race, sex, religion and background to gain admittance.

    3.) Since this is still an admission system based on the subjective value of diversity, the court should not be allowed to interfere.

    I have a feeling that the second scenario, that could be used to fill up a public institution with white males, by preferring them over minorities, would be ill received. However i cannot see how the principles that would allow it differ at all from those you use to defend "race conscious" admittance policies in public universities schools.
    Not quite. That hypothetical would run up against equal protection issues in the following way:

    1) Any time there is a classification based on race that might violate equal protection, it runs up against "strict scrutiny" in the courts. Strict scrutiny basically means that in order to be constitutional, the law/rule/issue in question must be "narrowly tailored to address a compelling state interest." That is, it must be both addressed to a very important interest (no racial classification, no matter how narrowly tailored, can be imposed if the interest is minor or frivolous) and be narrowly tailored to achieving that interest (i.e. no broader than it absolutely needs to be to achieve the goal)

    2) In striking down the quota system at issue in Bakke (the first AA case before it, which addressed admissions to the University of California), the Supreme Court ruled that the State did have a compelling interest in diversity, but that the quota system it put in place was not narrowly tailored. Thus, while it affirmed the ruling of the district court striking down the quota system, it also reversed an injunction by the district court which prohibited the University of California from considering race in any way.

    This quote (from the opinion of the Court in Grutter) is a pretty good encapsulation of the opinion in Bakke:

    Justice Powell began by stating that “[t]he guarantee of equal protection cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something else when applied to a person of another color. If both are not accorded the same protection, then it is not equal.” Bakke, 438 U.S.,at 289—290. In Justice Powell’s view, when governmental decisions “touch upon an individual’s race or ethnic background, he is entitled to a judicial determination that the burden he is asked to bear on that basis is precisely tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.” Id., at 299. Under this exacting standard, only one of the interests asserted by the university survived Justice Powell’s scrutiny.

    First, Justice Powell rejected an interest in “ ‘reducing the historic deficit of traditionally disfavored minorities in medical schools and in the medical profession’ ” as an unlawful interest in racial balancing. Id., at 306—307. Second, Justice Powell rejected an interest in remedying societal discrimination because such measures would risk placing unnecessary burdens on innocent third parties “who bear no responsibility for whatever harm the beneficiaries of the special admissions program are thought to have suffered.” Id., at 310. Third, Justice Powell rejected an interest in “increasing the number of physicians who will practice in communities currently underserved,” concluding that even if such an interest could be compelling in some circumstances the program under review was not “geared to promote that goal.” Id., at 306, 310.


    Justice Powell approved the university’s use of race to further only one interest: “the attainment of a diverse student body.” Id., at 311. With the important proviso that “constitutional limitations protecting individual rights may not be disregarded,” Justice Powell grounded his analysis in the academic freedom that “long has been viewed as a special concern of the First Amendment.” Id., at 312, 314. Justice Powell emphasized that nothing less than the “ ‘nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure’ to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this Nation of many peoples.” Id., at 313 (quoting Keyishian v. Board of Regents of Univ. of State of N. Y., 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967)). In seeking the “right to select those students who will contribute the most to the ‘robust exchange of ideas,’ ” a university seeks “to achieve a goal that is of paramount importance in the fulfillment of its mission.” 438 U.S., at 313. Both “tradition and experience lend support to the view that the contribution of diversity is substantial.” Ibid.

    Justice Powell was, however, careful to emphasize that in his view race “is only one element in a range of factors a university properly may consider in attaining the goal of a heterogeneous student body.” Id., at 314. For Justice Powell, “[i]t is not an interest in simple ethnic diversity, in which a specified percentage of the student body is in effect guaranteed to be members of selected ethnic groups,” that can justify the use of race. Id., at 315. Rather, “[t]he diversity that furthers a compelling state interest encompasses a far broader array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element.” Ibid.
    3) Since Bakke, then, the only issue before the courts (short of a Supreme Court reversal) in cases of policies meant to encourage diversity is whether the policy in question is sufficiently "narrowly tailored". That was the issue in Grutter.

    4) In your hypothetical, however, the interest proposed is an interest in homogeneity. That has not been found to be a compelling interest, and the hypothetical university would be forced to argue that it should be treated as one.

    Given the relevant precedent on segregation and the overall intent of the civil rights laws in removing such barriers, you're right to assume that argument wouldn't get much traction.

    But it's not because that program wouldn't be narrowly tailored or because of the academic freedom issue of judicial fine-tuning of the precise contours of such policies.

    Make sense?

  11. #111
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    Damn.

    isired
    University of JI Law
    Class of October, 2012

  12. #112
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    The laymans TLDR of Doggin's post:

    1. You can be a racist and descriminate, as long as you're racist and descriminating 1. against whites and men and 2. your doing so in the name of something the State (in it's greater wisdom) says is "for the greater good". I.e. affirmative action, Historicly Black Colleges, Public Sector Employment, Federal, State and Local Govt. Contracts etc, etc, etc.

    2. You cannot be a racist and descriminate if the victim is any form of minority, or if your doing so in the name of something an Individual feels is in his/her own good, as the good of all trumps the good of the individual in every case in the eyes of the Law and State. Even the appearence of descrimination is descrimination, and special rules must be put in place to penalize the majority (reduce their chances and opportunities) in order to support minorities


    Unequallity under the Law is the Law. Some people are, in fact, better than other based only on their skin tone, and don't you damn well forget it. And the polciies Doggin supports, and the Laws he supports, directly support racism-as-policy.
    Last edited by Warfish; 10-17-2012 at 01:34 PM.

  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post

    Make sense?
    Sort of...

    Essentially:

    The value of diversity is subjective. Yet the court has sanctioned this subjective interest as compelling. The inverse of diversity (homogeneity) has not been sanctioned as compelling. Therefore the court as ordained that this particular subjective valuation, has only one correct interpretation.


    Legally i suppose that works. However logically this cannot be. Subjective valuations cannot be objectively correct or incorrect. In this instance it does seem that Warfish is right.

    The supreme court seems to say: "We won't tolerate racism. Except when we encourage it."


    *edit* and thanks very much for the response. As much as our legal system disgusts me at times, i very much appreciate the opportunity to better understand it.

  14. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    The laymans TLDR of Doggin's post:

    1. You can be a racist and descriminate, as long as you're racist and descriminating 1. against whites and men and 2. your doing so in the name of something the State (in it's greater wisdom) says is "for the greater good". I.e. affirmative action, Historicly Black Colleges, Public Sector Employment, Federal, State and Local Govt. Contracts etc, etc, etc.

    2. You cannot be a racist and descriminate if the victim is any form of minority, or if your doing so in the name of something an Individual feels is in his/her own good, as the good of all trumps the good of the individual in every case in the eyes of the Law and State. Even the appearence of descrimination is descrimination, and special rules must be put in place to penalize the majority (reduce their chances and opportunities) in order to support minorities
    Not quite. You can discriminate against minorities as well if there is a compelling state interest. For example, profiling of the type El Al does would likely pass strict scrutiny. Korematsu (which was horrific policy, but constitutional) is probably the most famous case along those lines.

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    Sort of...

    Essentially:

    The value of diversity is subjective. Yet the court has sanctioned this subjective interest as compelling. The inverse of diversity (homogeneity) has not been sanctioned as compelling. Therefore the court as ordained that this particular subjective valuation, has only one correct interpretation.
    Almost. What the Court ruled is that diversity in the educational setting is objectively valuable (hence, a compelling state interest). However, the extent of diversity required to achieve the benefits is impossible to precisely define or measure - and therefore is the subject of subjective judgments.

  16. #116
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    I continue to try to be objective on this topic and come back to the same train of thought. If you want to attend a specific school - earn it.
    Colleges relative to undergraduate admission. A standard should be published stating - MINIMUM SAT?ACT scores required for entry. MINIMUM GPA required for entry. MINIMUM class rank required for entry. A assortment of completed courses required for entry.
    With an overlay (which is subjective) stating "You also had to have done other things". i.e. class officer, various clubs etc.

    For post graduate schools be they for law, business or whatever. The same test criteria, and grades and class rank etc. BUT also from a undergraduate school which meeets the appropriate standards. For example, coming from Duke carries more weight than coming from SC State (all other measured factors equal.

    Race should have NO bearing on a decision. Nor should sex (except in the case of an athlete applying at undergrad).

    I went to a large HS on LI. There was one minority - an oriental girl. About 25% of the student body was Jewish - that constituted diversity (pretty smart bunch - no stereotyping). And we had some tough Italian kids - there's diversity. In college, schools were still segregated and I played on an all white team which was a good one.
    Not being exposed to TOTAL diversity did not hurt me at all. I was exposed to plenty in the Army. And later in business.
    I believe you should EARN what you get. There should be no discrimination either way. If you do not completely earn what you have you will (should ) feel shortchanged. Obama's mantra: "You black people can't help yourself, so the government will take care of you". Dreadful put down.

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    Almost. What the Court ruled is that diversity in the educational setting is objectively valuable (hence, a compelling state interest). However, the extent of diversity required to achieve the benefits is impossible to precisely define or measure - and therefore is the subject of subjective judgments.
    Again, while that may be true legally. That doesn't fly logically.

    Objective valuations cannot contain subjective components.

    I understand you believe this ruling has had a positive impact on the university experience. Apart from that however, can you argue that it was not contrived? I don't understand how you can interpret the law this way, unless the overarching objective is to allow discrimination in circumstances you (subjectively) feel discrimination to be acceptable.
    Last edited by Axil; 10-17-2012 at 02:49 PM.

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    I think you've deeply misjudged what diversity means in the real world. I think you lack the same compassion for the victims of this policy that you'd have for other victims of racism, specificly because the only victims are white males, and I think you overemphasisize the misguided idea that simply being black or hispanic makes you more "diverse" than an equivalent white or other, and hence more worthy that an equivalent or even superior white candidate.

    Like all racism, this one too will eventually have repurcussions that will have to be faced, and it does what all racism does, it perpetually renews the divisions between us instead of promoting true equality.
    Well said.

    I'm already seeing the repurcussions with my HS aged son; We raise him in a color blind home (as I was raised) and we've taught him we are all God's children and he is blessed to have what he has.

    Now, he comes home with questions as he see's the disparate treatment of certain students by well meaning(?) educators.

    Its sad to see...that this notion of equality is starting to get muddied in his adolescent brain...He's asked me some race-based questions, sort of probing around to see what I really believe, as if he knows from his personal experience.... he's been fed a line of sh*te at home.

    -

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    Again, while that may be true legally. That doesn't fly logically.

    Objective valuations cannot contain subjective components.


    I understand you believe this ruling has had a positive impact on the university experience. Apart from that however, can you argue that it was not contrived? I don't understand how you can interpret the law this way, unless the overarching objective is to allow discrimination in circumstances you (subjectively) feel discrimination to be acceptable.
    The bolded is simply not true.

    Some obvious examples:

    Children need discipline. That is - I think we'll all agree - objectively true.

    Ok - now how much discipline is the appropriate amount for any given child?

    That calls for a subjective judgment, which has ranges of objective truth within it. "Zero discipline" is obviously too little. "Every waking moment regimented" is obviously too much (except for children far outside the range of psychological normal, who we can put aside for purposes of this discussion). Somewhere within the area between 0% and 100% is a gray area, within which reasonable people can disagree about what is and isn't appropriate.

    There are a ton of issues like that - obvious, objectively true, answers at the edges, gray and subjective in the middle.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by doggin94it View Post
    The bolded is simply not true.

    Some obvious examples:

    Children need discipline. That is - I think we'll all agree - objectively true.
    We are not using the term objective in the same way. I am using the word objective as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Definitions 1b, 1d and 3a chiefly apply in this context.

    The statement: "Children need discipline" is not objectively true. What makes it true? What facts support that assertion?

    A statement like: "Children who are subject to discipline are more likely to graduate high school" might be objectively true. But then you'd have to define discipline first not discuss the degree after the fact. Only if there is a demonstrable casual link between between a child receiving "discipline" and a child graduating high-school can that statement be said to be objectively true.

    The fact that the majority of the population agrees with a principle does not make it objectively true. That is an Ad Populum fallacy.

    Lastly, something can be objective, even if the answer isn't known. I will never know how many hot pockets i have consumed over the course of my lifetime. However there is a correct, objective answer to that question, and every other answer is false. A lot of people tend to confuse an objective question with unknown variables with a subjective question, when they are really very different.

    Anyway, i believe i better understand your perspective on the matter, thanks again for the legal insight.

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