Outrage in Texas over preferences in UT college admissions

The Dallas Morning News is one of many liberal media outlets outraged over admission preferences at the University of Texas, especially its elite and highly selective flagship Austin campus. No, not racial preferences, appartently they are just dandy. It has been discovered that children of wealthy potential donors and politically connected figures have been getting in when their raw grades and test scores would not have qualified them.

…an investigation by the firm Kroll Inc. found that lawmakers and other powerful people used their influence with Powers to turn favored applicants into students.

Powers told investigators that some students were admitted “due to ‘relational factors’ and the importance of those relationships to the university community.”

As the report notes, UT publicly represents that “an applicant should not be advantaged or given special consideration as a result of family connections, political connections, recommendations by persons of influence, or a perceived potential economic benefit or financial gain to the university.”

The public deserves to know now which lawmakers, donors and others put their weight behind favored applicants.

I have some slight acquaintance with the admissions process at elite private institutions, and it is my impression that the children of the very rich and politically powerful do get advantages. These institutions look forward to new buildings named after donors, and to political access. I have also been told, not for attribution, that one reason the University of California, Berkeley, went forward with a hugely expensive stadium renovation and high performance athletic training center was that the university top executives looked forward to entertaining state legislators at football games. So far, that strategy has been a bust because the Golden Bears have not exactly been winning championships.

College admissions are a zero-sum game. Preferences to some mean disappointment for others, more highly qualified. That’s why I am against all preferences based on demographic categories. But given that the University of Texas already proudly offers race preferences, the “high horse” (to borrow an expression from President O) approach here seems a bit odd.

If, as the DMN suspects, there has been a cover-up by University administrators, then expose it. But until the DMN inveighs against all preferences, indignation seems misplaced.

Hat tip: David Paulin

The Dallas Morning News is one of many liberal media outlets outraged over admission preferences at the University of Texas, especially its elite and highly selective flagship Austin campus. No, not racial preferences, appartently they are just dandy. It has been discovered that children of wealthy potential donors and politically connected figures have been getting in when their raw grades and test scores would not have qualified them.

…an investigation by the firm Kroll Inc. found that lawmakers and other powerful people used their influence with Powers to turn favored applicants into students.

Powers told investigators that some students were admitted “due to ‘relational factors’ and the importance of those relationships to the university community.”

As the report notes, UT publicly represents that “an applicant should not be advantaged or given special consideration as a result of family connections, political connections, recommendations by persons of influence, or a perceived potential economic benefit or financial gain to the university.”

The public deserves to know now which lawmakers, donors and others put their weight behind favored applicants.

I have some slight acquaintance with the admissions process at elite private institutions, and it is my impression that the children of the very rich and politically powerful do get advantages. These institutions look forward to new buildings named after donors, and to political access. I have also been told, not for attribution, that one reason the University of California, Berkeley, went forward with a hugely expensive stadium renovation and high performance athletic training center was that the university top executives looked forward to entertaining state legislators at football games. So far, that strategy has been a bust because the Golden Bears have not exactly been winning championships.

College admissions are a zero-sum game. Preferences to some mean disappointment for others, more highly qualified. That’s why I am against all preferences based on demographic categories. But given that the University of Texas already proudly offers race preferences, the “high horse” (to borrow an expression from President O) approach here seems a bit odd.

If, as the DMN suspects, there has been a cover-up by University administrators, then expose it. But until the DMN inveighs against all preferences, indignation seems misplaced.

Hat tip: David Paulin