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Author Topic: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...  (Read 840 times)

Regal_Muse

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How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« on: July 28, 2004, 04:44:07 PM »
This is off another message board.

Quote
this article is a year old but i just came across it and it's an interesting read...



The president might ask himself, "Wait a minute. How did I get into Yale?"

George W. Bush is all for diversity, he explained last week, but he doesn't care for the way they do it at the University of Michigan. The Administration has asked the Supreme Court to rule the Michigan system unconstitutional because of the scoring method it uses for rating applicants.

"At the undergraduate level," said Bush, "African-American students and some Hispanic students and Native American students receive 20 points out of a maximum of 150, not because of any academic achievement or life experience, but solely because they are African American, Hispanic or Native American."

If our President had the slightest sense of irony, he might have paused to ask himself, "Wait a minute. How did I get into Yale?" It wasn't because of any academic achievement: his high school record was ordinary. It wasn't because of his life experience--prosperous family, fancy prep school--which was all too familiar at Yale. It wasn't his SAT scores: 566 verbal and 640 math.
They may not have had an explicit point system at Yale in 1964, but Bush clearly got in because of affirmative action. Affirmative action for the son and grandson of alumni. Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential family. Affirmative action for a boy from a fancy prep school. These forms of affirmative action still go on.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Harvard accepts 40% of applicants who are children of alumni but only 11% of applicants generally. And this kind of affirmative action makes the student body less diverse, not more so. George W. Bush, in fact, may be the most spectacular affirmative-action success story of all time. Until 1994, when he was 48 years old and got elected Governor of Texas, his life was almost empty of accomplishments.

Yet bloodlines and connections had put him into Andover, Yale and Harvard Business School, and even finally provided him with a fortune after years of business disappointments. Intelligence, hard work and the other qualities associated with the concept of merit had almost nothing to do with Bush's life and success up to that point.

And yet seven years later he was President of the U.S. So what is the difference between the kind of affirmative action that got Bush where he is today and the kind he wants the Supreme Court to outlaw? One difference is that the second kind is about race, and race is an especially toxic subject. Of course, George W.'s affirmative action is about race too, at least indirectly.

The class of wealthy, influential children of alumni of top universities is disproportionately white. And it will remain that way for a long time--especially if racial affirmative action is outlawed. A second difference is that the Michigan system is crudely numerical, whereas the favoritism enjoyed by George W. Bush is baked into the way we live.

Between these two extreme examples are all the familiar varieties of preference: explicit racial favoritism without numbers, favoritism based on something as amorphous as social class or as specific as your high school, favoritism limited to recruitment and preparation, and so on. Opponents and supporters of affirmative action actually tend to agree that there is something bad, generally called quotas, and something good, generally called something like diversity.

Their argument is about where you draw the line. Bush calls the Michigan 20-point bonus a quota, and his critics insist that it is not. But both sides are wrong. If yoursole measure of the success of any arrangement is whether it increases the representation of certain minorities, then it doesn't really matter what procedure you use to achieve that result: some people are getting something desirable because of their race, and an equal number of people are not getting it for the same reason.

Of course a series of somebodies didn't get into Andover, Yale and Harvard Business School because their blood wasn't as blue as Bush's, and other somebodies didn't get a chance to own the Texas Rangers or to use the capital Bush borrowed to buy his share of the team because these somebodies were nobodies. Life is unfair.

A legitimate criticism of affirmative action is that it politicizes life chances and focuses blame on race. If you get turned down by Yale to make room for a George W., you're not even aware of it. But if you get turned down by the University of Michigan, you're likely to blame affirmative action (if you're white), even though the numbers say you probably would have been turned down anyway.

So ask yourself: Would you rather have a gift of 20 points out of 150 to use at the college of your choice? Or would you rather have the more amorphous advantages President Bush has enjoyed at every stage of his life?

If the answer to that isn't obvious to you, even 20 extra points are probably not enough to get you into the University of Michigan

nekko

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2004, 04:58:25 PM »
The issue with Alums is different than that of race though. There's an ever increasing number of minority alums at these schools and it's quite clear that giving benefits to alums results in tangible benefits to the university and by extension their students. The big issue with affirmative action is not that it discriminates but that it discriminates based on race.

If I lose out on a job because the boss decided to hire his brother instead, I'd be pissed and think poorly on the organization. If I lose out on a job because I'm asian then I'm pissed and file a complaint/lawsuit.

aboynoir

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2004, 05:02:43 PM »
Thats a interesting article. I had no idea what 'The Shrubs' SAT scores were.

jrhc1210

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2004, 05:15:08 PM »
This is why schools like Texas A&M not just got rid of affirmative action, but rewards for legacies. Legacies just worked as affirmative action for white folks (like Dubya). Now the playing field is genuinely even there--and minority enrollment is up! More schools should follow their example, IMO

nekko

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2004, 05:16:23 PM »
Hmmm something I noticed about this article is that it says Harvard accepts 40% of children of alumni and only 11% of general applicants. Doesn't that make sense though? Kids who's parents are from Harvard would obviously seem more likely to have higher grades, test scores, etc. which would result in a higher rate of acceptance unrelated to the alumni issue that the article tries to represent.

Also I'm not sure how relevant his SAT score was for admission into Yale at that time period. The materials I've read indicate that at the time Yale was just a rich person school rather than a particularly competitive school so I'm not sure his SAT was too low for the applicant pool at the time. Kind of like USC used to just be a rich spoiled kid school which wasn't very hard to get into until they've relatively recently become more aggressive in improving their academics.

NorthwoodV

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2004, 05:22:17 PM »
Legacies receiving preferential treatment in admissions is unfortunate.

$50,000 donations should not be considered in admissions, but neither should skin pigmentation.

Regardless, one flaw here does not, and will never, legitimize another.

Fair competition is for what we strive.  That is done by removing barriers and limiting advantages, not creating barriers and providing advantages.

nekko

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2004, 05:27:29 PM »
I'm not sure I agree re: donations. It's all a matter of how much I think. It's cost benefit. More resources for the school helps the student body significantly. If a school got a library in exchange for a student getting in I think the benefit to the student body would vastly outweigh the harm of letting that student in.

Casper

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2004, 05:29:53 PM »
Wouldn't law school application process beeeeeeeee soooooooooo much easier if we were allowed to "name drop."  ie.  Use an alumni from their law school as a reference.  Everywhere I read, it advise not to use this method.  I haven't actually tried it, but it would make my life whole lot easier. 


The donations also help pay for other students tutions through grant packages, etc.
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rwhitman

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2004, 05:37:50 PM »
Wouldn't law school application process beeeeeeeee soooooooooo much easier if we were allowed to "name drop."  ie.  Use an alumni from their law school as a reference.  Everywhere I read, it advise not to use this method.  I haven't actually tried it, but it would make my life whole lot easier. 


The donations also help pay for other students tutions through grant packages, etc.

Whats wrong with having an alum write a lor for you?

Casper

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Re: How Affirmative Action helped Bush...and others...
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2004, 05:50:51 PM »
I've gotten the impression that it's not the way that law school admission works.  Maybe I got the wrong information.

So, if I get an alumni to write me an LOR, it would greatly improve my chances of getting in, even with an average/below average lsat score?

thanks.

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