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California Association of Scholars Conference on Race and Sex Preferences,

at USC this Saturday; an interesting gathering of critics of affirmative action (including Ward Connerly, Tom Wood, Gail Heriot, and others) -- wish I could be there, especially because of the discussions about the political future of anti-race/sex-preferences campaigns. From being at past conferences such as this, my sense is that this is going to be quite substantive, though intentionally focused on the anti-preferences side. I know a lot of these people from my work on California's Yes on Prop. 209 campaign, and respect them highly.

Houston Lawyer:
What I find most interesting is that they have little or no success in the legislatures, but considerable success in referendums.
1.17.2008 2:18pm
PLR:

From being at past conferences such as this, my sense is that this is going to be quite substantive, though intentionally focused on the anti-preferences side.

"Conference" comes from the root verb "to confer," which an online dictionary defines as follows for the intransitive verb:

1. To discuss something with somebody: to talk with somebody in order to compare opinions or make a decision.

Interesting.
1.17.2008 2:29pm
theobromophile (www):
Ditto Houston Lawyer, although it may be because no lawmaker wants to be seen as racist or sexist.

I find it interesting that they are including affirmative action based on sex. Women make up approximately 57% of college students. They are less likely to drop out than men; they earn higher grades, and they make up over half of students at every post-high school level. AA for sex actually gives boys an advantage in admissions. (The only demographic in which men currently* outnumber women is Asian males with high-income parents.)

On a side note, it is interesting that, as minority students started going to college in reasonably large numbers in the 1970s, their kids are of college age now, and may get legacy preferences.

*As of 2004.
1.17.2008 2:54pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
What I find most interesting is that they have little or no success in the legislatures, but considerable success in referendums.
Not just in legislatures; virtually the entire political establishment in Michigan opposed Prop 2 there. GOP as well as Democrats. Nobody wants to be called a racist -- and let's face it, the biggest beneficiaries of ending AA are Asians, and they don't have much clout in the legislature.
1.17.2008 3:03pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
AA for sex actually gives boys an advantage in admissions.

It should*, but has it ever actually been used that way?
1.17.2008 3:17pm
Jamie (mail):
In a sociology of race class, ex examined the guys behind that prop and the consensus was that they were more or less frauds and lied about things.

Don't get me wrong - I oppose affirmative action - but some of the tactics they used were dishonest at best. At least according to the investigative journalism by Dateline or 20/20 or whatever it was that interviewed them.
1.17.2008 3:17pm
ejo:
to confer-do you actually think proponents, most prominently college administrators, will actually and honestly discuss their practices in public. they don't want to discuss things openly-they sure as hell don't in Michigan, in supposedly public universities.
1.17.2008 3:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
con·fer·ence
–noun
1. a meeting for consultation or discussion

Not really that interesting, PLR.

As a thought exercise, how many OTHER words change have completely different connotations from their root forms?
1.17.2008 3:34pm
theobromophile (www):
Ralph,

I know that my alma mater does, even though they have an engineering school. The M/F ratio in liberal arts is 45/55, with 48/51 overall. In 2003 or 2004 (can't recall which), the admissions office stated to alumni interviewers that they do, in fact, give a boost to men applying to LA.

This happens at other colleges - I can provide you with cites, if you like, or you can google it. Here are a few to start you off.
1.17.2008 3:41pm
alias:
I disagree with PLR. That's not interesting at all.
1.17.2008 3:48pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
some of the tactics they used were dishonest at best. At least according to the investigative journalism by Dateline or 20/20 or whatever it was that interviewed them
Irony alert!
1.17.2008 3:52pm
frankcross (mail):
The Founding Fathers would definitely prefer legislatures to referenda. The founders doubted democracy and thought that decisions should be made by representatives, not the people directly.
1.17.2008 4:03pm
tarheel:
Sorry for the video link, but it is right on point and posted today. Bottom line, admission standards for women are now tougher than for men in an effort to balance out the current 57-43 female-male ratio.
1.17.2008 4:06pm
DiverDan (mail):
Just wondering if anyone has done a demographic study on who actually benefits from race based preferences in either college or grad school admissions. My guess is that, at least for grad schools, those most likely to benefit are those least likely to need the boost - i.e., children of upper class or upper middle class minorities, with one or both parents having college degrees. I know of at least two cases, at University of Michigan Law School and University of Virginia Law School where children of black professionals, where both parents had advanced degrees &both families had high 6-figure incomes, received race-based preferences in admission (not that they really needed it, but it allowed these schools to pump up minority enrollment), even though these children had many more advantages than a substantial majority of white applicants. Backers of affirmative action sell these race-based preferences to poor urban blacks, but I strongly suspect that those who really need the help bacause of economic circumstances, poor inner-city schools, and crime-ridden neighborhoods, etc., would be much better off with race-blind preferences based solely on economic circumstances.
1.17.2008 4:10pm
Observer:
My employer hires entry-level lawyers. This year it had to practice a bit of informal AA in favor of men, or else there wouldn't have been any men at all in the incoming class. The top candidates in the past two years have been Asian women. Jewish and other white ethnic (not WASP) women make up the rest of the field.

This is the future...

Maybe we should just have men concentrate on combat (hee hee) and let women handle all the legal stuff.
1.17.2008 4:39pm
JohnAnnArbor:

would be much better off with race-blind preferences based solely on economic circumstances.

Polls suggest that that idea has wide support, but the race-obsessed college administrators are not going to go for it. A white guy is just another white guy to them, never mind if he grew up in poverty in a mining town in northern Michigan or whatever.

That was made ABUNDANTLY clear when I went to UMichigan's admissions office. I had an appointment. I was delayed 45 minutes by a student who had no appointment and was received like a king. When my appointment started, the officer looked at me, then just threw my file on the desk dismissively, saying I was "lucky" to have such good academic scores. The meeting ended in 5 minutes.

Guess the races!
1.17.2008 4:44pm
JohnAnnArbor:
A friend of mine had similar treatment ti mine at Wayne State's medical school. She's Indian. The interviewer wouldn't even open her file, dismissing her quite rudely! To him, she was just another Indian wanting to be a doctor.

College admissions is quite racist, and they are pretty open about wanting to stay that way.
1.17.2008 4:48pm
PLR:
I disagree with PLR. That's not interesting at all.

Sorry, they can't all be gems.

Part of the program materials says this about the keynote speaker:
Mr. Connerly has gained national attention and respect as an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, sex, or ethnic background.

Stirring. Now, I understand from people like Mr. Connerly that "equality of opportunity" can be distinguished from "equality of outcome" without torturing the King's English. But hypothetically, if one observes a statistically significant inequality of outcome over a long period of time, is that any evidence at all of whether there has been equality of opportunity? How is "equality of opportunity" measured empirically, assuming I am skeptical of what the guy in the tie is asserting about the exam he just handed to me?
1.17.2008 4:49pm
Curt Fischer:

PLR: How is "equality of opportunity" measured empirically, assuming I am skeptical of what the guy in the tie is asserting about the exam he just handed to me?


Can you first explain how any kind of opportunity, whether equal or unequal, can be measured "empirically"? If you can answer that, I'm reasonably confident I can tell how to measure equality of opportunity.
1.17.2008 5:20pm
Brett Bellmore:

some of the tactics they used were dishonest at best.


Yes, I recall it being covered extensively in the local papers. But when you got down to it, I never saw any objective evidence of this "dishonesty". Mainly what was going on was that the official 'civil rights' community was pissed off at the idea of a ballot proposal banning racial discrimination being called a civil rights proposal.

'Cause whites don't HAVE any civil right not to be discriminated against, of course.
1.17.2008 5:23pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
@Houston Lawyer, theobromphile: I wonder what that says about the role of interest groups in politics.
1.17.2008 5:45pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The problem with the M/F ratio is that at some point, in the high 50s in favor of women I believe, a school starts to lose attraction to both sexes. What woman is going to want to go to a school with that many more women than men (unless she is going to a fully women's college), since that means that the odds are stacked against her for finding a husband, and stacked in favor of the guys for finding a lot of sex. And, it appears that the higher up the selectivity, etc., the more this seems to be playing out.
1.17.2008 6:00pm
Curt Fischer:

The problem with the M/F ratio is that at some point, in the high 50s in favor of women I believe, a school starts to lose attraction to both sexes.


I don't understand your argument at all. First, is finding a husband the primary educational goal of today's female college students? I am highly doubtful.

Second, I fail to understand how men "lose attraction" to a school when it has tons of women.
1.17.2008 6:14pm
Malvolio:
First, is finding a husband the primary educational goal of today's female college students? I am highly doubtful.
Doesn't have to be a primary goal. If it's even a secondary or tertiary goal, a woman can choose from many other, academically equivalent schools with less dismaying odds against meeting a suitable man.
I fail to understand how men "lose attraction" to a school when it has tons of women.
Yeah, I wonder if there was a typo in the original post.

Even male I know who attended a predominantly female college thereby enjoyed a, shall I say, rich personal life. Of course, it's isn't clear that their parents felt that their tuition money was well-spent that way.
1.17.2008 6:43pm
sbron:
It is astounding that racial/gender preferences are not an issue in the Presidential campaigns so far. In particular, racial preferences for Latinos, a prospective amnesty, and continued large-scale immigration from Mexico/Central America seem to be the ingredients for an incipient conflagaration.

Racial preferences should have been a big issue in the Michigan primaries, given the recent passage there of Prop. 2 in that state (anti-preference.) Preferences have also played a not-insignificant role I believe in the demise of the domestic auto industry. Ford Motor Corp. in particular was really damaged by former CEO's Jacques Nasser's preference regime. White male employees who had previously received awards were suddenly receiving "C" ratings and summarily fired.

See this article re: Nasser

"I do not like the sea of white faces in the audience, and FoMoCo must ensure that in the future, the company reflects the broad spectrum of Ford's customers," said Nasser in a videotaped address to top executives shown at diversity training seminars.

http://tinyurl.com/39svsg

Ford had to pay out 10.5 million in a settlement for these idiotic policies. See this NY Times article

http://tinyurl.com/2lzyct
1.17.2008 9:11pm
David Matthews (mail):
"Scholars Conference on Race and Sex Preferences"

With a title like that, I was thinking there'd be a lot of advertisements like SWFPhD seeking SBM, degree open.

Glad I didn't blow my faculty development stipend on that one....
1.17.2008 11:28pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
But hypothetically, if one observes a statistically significant inequality of outcome over a long period of time, is that any evidence at all of whether there has been equality of opportunity?

No.
1.18.2008 8:17am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
White male employees who had previously received awards were suddenly receiving "C" ratings and summarily fired.

You forgot one important adjective in your rush to blame Fords decision on race or gender discrimination "older". Age discrimination, especially in a corporation like Ford where there is a large contingent older workers eligible for pensions and a younger cohort who only have 401(K) retirement plans, is especially pervasive. These companies want to get rid of their pension obligations by any means necessary or at least minimize the eventual payouts. I would imagine that, much more than race or gender, the push was to save money by getting rid of long term, highly compensated, pension-vested employees, who, because of past discriminatory policies and lack of opportunity for minorities and women, were predominately, if not exclusively, white males.
1.18.2008 10:58am