How UCLA violates the law to use racial preferences in admissions

Racial preferences in college admissions are hideously ineffective in achieving the intended goal of helping target groups, and sow bitterness among those who see themselves losing out on opportunities because of their skin color. Yet academia remains stubbornly committed to the practice, even in the face of legal prohibitions, as is the case in California’s public universities, where voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 209.

An important new book has been published by Prof. Tim Groseclose, Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA, on how dishonesty is at the core of the project.  Russell K. Nieli reviews it at Minding the Campus, and the information there is eye-opening. Groseclose is a very interesting critic because he was indeed an insider, and a disinterested one, not a critic of affirmative action:

Groseclose first got wind of UCLA's disregard for the law in the Spring of 2006 when he served on the faculty oversight committee on admissions.  Incredible as it may seem, when he asked for actual statistical data on applicants and admits to the university in order to be able to make informed recommendations about UCLA's actual admissions policies, he was flat-out refused by the admissions committee.

It took Groseclose the threat of a lawsuit under California’s public records act to get access to the data necessary for his oversight. When he found the data, he discovered whose thumb was on the scale, and where the preferences operated. There was a two-step process at UCLA (I believe this is very common at highly selective colleges). The first stage identified the clear choices for admission and rejection. The second stage examined those with mixed records:

For some students, however, there is a "second chance" avenue toward acceptance, which is accorded to students who receive widely diverging scores from their two readers, or who are among those for whom the admissions committee requests additional information.  This "second chance" group, Groseclose explains, is not evaluated by the original readers but by a small, permanent group of UCLA admissions officers.  It is, here, Groseclose found, that a racial bias was clearly introduced into the UCLA admissions process--and the racial bias was huge.

Examining one subgroup among the "second chance" students--specifically, those who received a high-middle score from one reader and a low-middle score from another reader (a 2.5 and a 4 on a 1-5 scale) Groseclose found some striking disparities.  Within this subgroup--all of whom were rated roughly equal on the "holistic" scale--46 percent of African Americans were offered admissions while among North Asians (a group including all Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans) only 17 percent were. Although these two groups were rated about equally qualified by the first evaluators, those in the African American group were more than two and a half times as likely to be offered admission as those in the North Asian group. 

Even more striking was the relative indifference to socio-economic deprivation that Groseclose found.  Among those in this low-middle/high-middle group of second chancers, poor North Asians whose families earned less than $30,000 per year had an acceptance rate not only much lower than equally poor African Americans (23 percent vs. 55 percent), but much lower even than rich African Americans with family incomes above $100,000 per year (23 percent vs. 38 percent).  Race was clearly a dominant factor in these differences, and being black counted much more in one's favor than being from a socio-economically deprived family.  "The race-based affirmative action that UCLA grants," Groseclose calculated, "is approximately four times greater than the class-based affirmative action that it grants" (p. 3).

As many of us have suspected, wealthy applicants from preferred racial groups get ahead at the expense of those from modest and even impoverished backgrounds, if they are of the wrong race. In contemporary California, a highly disproportionate number of the disfavored applicants will be of Asian heritage. Such discrimination cannot possibly be defended on the basis of the spurious concept of “white privilege” or of the history of slavery, for which all whites, some assert, bear responsibility.

In California, Asian-heritage voters have been loyal to the Democratic Party, the party which continues to support affirmative action. Now that we have proof of the discrimination they suffer, that loyalty should be disputed. California Republicans should act on the findings of this book, and make affirmative action an election issue.

Hat tip: Instapundit