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Author Topic: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?  (Read 12728 times)

angmill08

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2005, 12:44:49 PM »
As you might guess from my repeated posts to this thread, I think about race a lot and have few friends who are interested in discussing it. So I long for a civil, open discussion of race related issues.

Sleepy... you make good points. But the point you don't want to debate is, I think, really one of the main issues here. I think the thinking behind the "check the box" is a) keep it simple and b) if we accept that racism does exist today, and systematic discrimination does lead to a pattern of impact, then why make people write an essay explaning this?

Clearly, reason a) is unsatisfying, although it is understandable but I think b) is reasonable.
164/3.46 Undergrad GPA, graduated college in 1996.
Applied: UT Austin (ED), Univ. of Houston, George Washington U & American U.
Accepted: Univ. of Houston, GW, American
Attending: GW, Fall 2006

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2005, 02:21:30 PM »
Sleepy... you make good points. But the point you don't want to debate is, I think, really one of the main issues here. I think the thinking behind the "check the box" is a) keep it simple and b) if we accept that racism does exist today, and systematic discrimination does lead to a pattern of impact, then why make people write an essay explaning this?

Even if we accept that racism does exist today, on a systematic level, it still remains a fact that not all black people (or Latina/o people) in this country are underprivileged overall.   

Whats more, there are many black people for whom their privileges far outweigh their oppression and many white people for whom their oppressive life circumstances far outweigh their privilege of being white. 

An example

During college I had a friend who grew up in West Bloomfield (one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country).  Her father was an engineer, and her mother a doctor.  While she may have been the target of some discrimination during her life, her other privileges (including coming from an intact, strong family who guided her through private schools, a top university, and now into a PhD Program), far outweighed her oppression.

Compare this to a young man who I know (from tutoring, etc.), and for whom I've become somewhat of a mentor.  When I met him, he was a 14 year old in a Juvenile Detention facility.  He was a ward of the court and had no contact with any of his family members.  He'd been abused in terrible ways as a child, grown up in severe poverty -- his whole life a tragic tale.  Now he's striving for a better life. Even though his record is clear (juvenile offenders get their records cleared), he'll have a terribly difficult job of pulling himself up from his circumstances.  He's struggled to get on track academically, and even after finally graduating from high school, he knows nothing about the process of a college education (let alone graduate school).  He's a really bright kid, but he needs some guidance along the way, and some help once and a while.  This young man is white, but it's obvious to me that whatever privilege he's gained by being white is far outweighed by his life circumstances. 

So, of these two people who, on balance, has experienced an underprivileged life?

Trying to determine privilege by asking people to check a box is taking the easy way out.  What we should be striving to do is to give a little assistance to people who have, on balance, experienced oppressive life circumstances.  Notice I say, on balance.  Skin color may be an indicator that a person has or will experience discrimination (Ill concede this for the sake of argument, although Im not entirely convinced of it), but its not an indicator that a person is, on balance, underprivileged or oppressed. 

Human rights are built on the notion that individual people matter themselves.  That's why it's a violation of a person's civil rights (human rights really) to target them, for instance, because they're Arab and walking through an airport.  We recognize that individual people matter -- and we don't make judgments about individuals by our notions, or even by our research, on a group from which they belong. 

TBoneUCLA

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2005, 04:25:04 PM »
well put.

i think most people reading this thread would suggest that the white kid you know, if he wanted to go to law school, should write about his experiences. i think he would, and i think it would be beneficial to him.

but, the girl you mentioned honestly needs no help whatsoever, in my opinion. i dont care if she is black and if some people in her life have discriminated against her for what she was born. she isn't in need of any help!
we ALL have people spit at us, so to say, from time to time. that is life.
if you are truly smart, educated, commited and persistent in life you would never let some idiots discrimination of you TRULY slow you down in any way.

and in this day and age there just isnt any kind of MAJORITY that is racist enough to actually effect your life on a day to day basis (and if you feel that that is not true i suggest you move from alabama to california, where i live)

i mean, why put yourself in harms way? as a gay man i got myself out of smalltown usa toot suite right into la where i knew i could function healthily.

as i have said, being poor and underprivileged and under appreciated is a true disadvantage. i do not believe simply being black is a legitimate disadvantage in america. not anymore.

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2005, 04:42:44 PM »
as i have said, being poor and underprivileged and under appreciated is a true disadvantage. i do not believe simply being black is a legitimate disadvantage in america. not anymore.

This is a strong statement -- one I was trying to avoid.  Because I really don't know if it's true or not.  What I do know is that most people who benefit from race-based AA have a hard time explaining how this "systematic discrimination" functions in their lives.

I'm BI, and so at times I run into some pretty entrenched discrimination.  I've been asked during interviews for volunteer positions about my sexual orientation (and not been allowed to volunteer with a particular organization b/c of it).  If I end up with a same-sex life-partner, I expect to have major problems -- problems sanctioned by the government (domestic partnership benefits are being challenged in my state right now b/c of an "marriage" amendment passed in November.  It looks like it may actually become illegal to offer domestic partnership benefits in the state.  Plus, I'll never get the tax breaks that a non-same-sex couple who were life partners would get). 

But despite all of the above, I get no official boost in admissions from any law school I've heard of (with the possible exception of Temple, but even for Temple you have to write a statement to that affect). 

I'd love for somebody to show me a written policy by any law school that gives AA for LGBT folks. 

I'm not saying, however, that I think I deserve AA -- far from it.  What I'm saying is that I think AA should be reserved for people who can demonstrate the need for a boost. 

TBoneUCLA

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2005, 06:00:27 PM »
i know, it is a strong statement. and i think we are basically agreeing with each other here.

but i would like to know if there are people out there that do firmly belive that by virtue of having black skin you positivly have experienced enough oppression in your life to justify your grads/scores as not necessarily being an adequate representaion of your ability. and that in that same light other people who have experienced other types of oppression have NOT faced oppression to the same degree, thereby saying that THEIR scores SHOULD represent thier ability.

if no one does think that is true, than we must be agreeing that AA simply helps to diversify a class that would otherwise be more homogenous in background.

i just think there are too many people jumping onto the back of the "AA trolley" hitching a ride to East St. that easily have enough change in thier wallet to pay for a ticket themselves. if you get what i mean.....

SillyMia

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #45 on: March 13, 2005, 11:20:57 PM »
"Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?"

Yes.  Me.

TBoneUCLA

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #46 on: March 14, 2005, 12:33:31 AM »
"Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?"

Yes.  Me.


would you care to share your experiences/opinions? so far you are the only person to reply to this thread that that can answer yes to the main question...

angmill08

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #47 on: March 14, 2005, 12:47:29 PM »
I've been reading these posts as time allows over the weekend and thinking about what you are saying. My thoughts:

The point of AA is not to give a "boost" to anyone who has faced hardship. The point is to address the underrepresentation of certain racial groups in elite schools and professions. I think this is a valid goal, given the history of racism in the US and the continuing racism and effects of racism that linger.

I know AA isn't a cure for racism. But it is an acknowledgement of it, and an attempt to mitigate some of its effects. Unlike some, I think race still matters a lot in the US. My experience in the ghetto of a liberal city leads me to assume that racism can be felt strongly in the black ghettoes of California and New Jersey... or really in any place where blacks are the majority, as it is in my neighborhood.

I have some other comments too, but now I'm out of typing time, so maybe someone else wants to chime in.
164/3.46 Undergrad GPA, graduated college in 1996.
Applied: UT Austin (ED), Univ. of Houston, George Washington U & American U.
Accepted: Univ. of Houston, GW, American
Attending: GW, Fall 2006

SleepyGuyYawn

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #48 on: March 14, 2005, 01:14:47 PM »
The point is to address the underrepresentation of certain racial groups in elite schools and professions. I think this is a valid goal, given the history of racism in the US and the continuing racism and effects of racism that linger.

I certainly think that's one goal of AA. But the case has been made for AA in many ways, one of which is to give a boost to those who've faced hardship.  Anther reason for AA that has been discussed, especially by Univ of Michigan's council in the recent Supreme Court Cases, is the idea that minority representation necessarily adds to an educational experience.

I do understand the ideals behind trying to give an entire race a boost -- especially to attain many of the more elite positions in society.  And I certainly understand the extreme racism that has existed, and probably does still exist, in our society.  But I wonder if AA is the right answer.  B/c at a fundamental level, AA action is about ignoring individuals and making important decisions based on skin color alone.  That bothers me. 

One might respond by saying that AA is only supposed to be used to decide between two similarly qualified applicants.  But the fact is that it never happens that way in reality.  This is especially true in law school admissions  -- where GPAs and LSATs make it much easier to see who is more and less qualified. 

What seems so unfair to me is that I'm being punished for something that I had nothing to do with.  I've never owned a slave, entered a restroom that was "whites only," belonged to a country club that didn't allow African Americans, or to my knowledge, discrimated in any way based on somebody's skin color.  But I'm still thrown into the group of "white males." 

And no matter what I've been through -- or what I've overcome, I'll be railroaded as just another white male.

What's worse is when I consider the young man I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread (the one who was a ward of the court -- who came from the most humble of backgrounds).  If he ever got to be, say, president of a company -- he too would just be railroaded as another privelaged, white, powerful, male. 

I'm just tired of making decisions based on the group that somebody involutarily belongs to -- I'd like people to consider me a person for who I am, and for what I've overcome.  And how is that different than what people fought for with civil rights?

WoeIsMe

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Re: are there any URMs that think AA is TOO helpful in admissions process?
« Reply #49 on: March 14, 2005, 01:20:09 PM »
I honestly believe you'd get better results if there was a tax reduction for corporations/firms who meet certain diversity factors.  I don't say I necessarily agree with this policy, but can guarantee the end goal of diversity would be reached much more quickly than trying to push the agenda at the university admissions level.

Ever see Boeing, Intel, Microsoft, or Lockheed recruiting high school students?  And yes, this would go closer to the source of problem.