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Author Topic: Morality of AA  (Read 6570 times)

John Galt

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #50 on: March 21, 2006, 10:02:14 PM »
I don't agree that AA should encompass socio-economic status. Equal opportunity should be the standard when dealing with socio-economic status. Equal opportunity assumes that the system is not inherently discriminatory and that individuals will be able to seek retribution through the courts when isolated incidents of discrimination are apparent. Affirmative Action assumes that there is inherent discrimination in the system and "affirmative" action should be taken to guard against discrimination before it happens. This is also why white women benefit from affirmative action. I fail to see how the government has actively and transparently discriminated against the poor and I fail to see how colleges/professional schools have as well.

Should SES be used as a factor in determining diversity? Sure, and it already is, just as geography, major in college, interests, hobbies, etc are taken into account.

redemption

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #51 on: March 21, 2006, 10:18:32 PM »
What's the practical effect of classifying SES as a diversity criterion and not an an AA criterion in terms of the admissions profile of a particular law school?

John Galt

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #52 on: March 21, 2006, 10:39:20 PM »
What's the practical effect of classifying SES as a diversity criterion and not an an AA criterion in terms of the admissions profile of a particular law school?

Depends on the institution. For public institutions, nothing since AA can no longer be used to redress past injustices. For private universities, it would vary widely. But even if the practical results are negligible, it is important to distinguish why african americans and women have a specific program of affirmative action and the rationale for why SES is not a component.

redemption

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #53 on: March 21, 2006, 10:58:08 PM »
Clarity and transparency is what is missing from the current system, so your proposal to distinguish among reasons and classes would constitute an improvement.

Not sure about past grievances as a justification for AA, though - too complicated to calculate, administer and justify. Current grievance has a better chance of holding up under scrutiny, combined with the consequentialist argument that recognizes that law is a special profession, and finally the diversity argument that recognizes the educational benefits of a balanced classroom.

In order to make this work work, though, law schools will need to adjust their numeric criteria from a "higher is better" stance to a "minimum standards" stance. The latter is used by other professional schools - notably MBA and MD schools. That way, it avoids the widespread impression that index numbers define merit (which is false), and gives schools wider latitude to admit a diverse student body.

The current approach is clearly unsatisfactory, at least in terms of PR - it stigmatizes all minority applicants, leaves majority candidates feeling stirred and shaken, and minimizes the potential for creating a truly diverse incoming class.

John Galt

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #54 on: March 21, 2006, 11:08:56 PM »
Clarity and transparency is what is missing from the current system, so your proposal to distinguish among reasons and classes would constitute an improvement.

Not sure about past grievances as a justification for AA, though - too complicated to calculate, administer and justify. Current grievance has a better chance of holding up under scrutiny, combined with the consequentialist argument that recognizes that law is a special profession, and finally the diversity argument that recognizes the educational benefits of a balanced classroom.

In order to make this work work, though, law schools will need to adjust their numeric criteria from a "higher is better" stance to a "minimum standards" stance. The latter is used by other professional schools - notably MBA and MD schools. That way, it avoids the widespread impression that index numbers define merit (which is false), and gives schools wider latitude to admit a diverse student body.

The current approach is clearly unsatisfactory, at least in terms of PR - it stigmatizes all minority applicants, leaves majority candidates feeling stirred and shaken, and minimizes the potential for creating a truly diverse incoming class.

Red, wouldn't the minimum standard likely be the same for each school? Since the material learned is the same at all schools, the competency level to understand the material is probably constant. However, at Harvard, for example, the class is made up of presumably smarter students than a much lower ranked school. It would seem that judging applicants on the numerical criteria compared with other applicants guarantees at least a class of comparable intellect; but since there are currently no cutoffs it allows for those subjective calls where a person's complete qualifications may indicate that they can compete irrespective of a weakness in one numerical qualification (ie, LSAT or GPA).

If we allow schools to set different minimum standards wouldn't we risk having Harvard set a minimum standard that likely eliminates the vast majority of the poor and minorities? Almost like literacy tests for voting... I'm not sure how it works in B-school though and I'm unclear about how it works in general. Perhaps you can clarify for me.

I do agree with your general philosophy though and the inadequacy of the current system.

redemption

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #55 on: March 21, 2006, 11:32:54 PM »
I think that there would be an incentive to set the minimum standard fairly low, even for Harvard.   Business schools set minimum cut-off scores for the quant and for the verbal parts of the GMAT; these cut-off scores are different for each school (higher-ranked schools havve higher cut-off numbers) but still low enough to garner a wide range of applicants to choose from on the basis of soft factors. i'd say that it would be reasonale for HLS, for example to set 167 or so as a standard: in which case, everyone knows to apply when they have scored at that level - there's an incentive to study (people are generally put off by medians at 173 and 2fth percentiles at 171 under the current system, and I don't think that they prepare quite as well/hard as they should); and once they have studied and reached that score, they'd feel - and it would be true - that they are truly being evaluated in a holistic way.

Med school cut-offs are higher, but that's necessary because it is a content test rather than a skill test. Nevertheless, many more qualified candidates reach the cutoff than can be admitted, and med schools therefore have the luxury of admitting people based on their sense of the person and not just based on the numbers.

And, working down from HYS etc, schools would have to adjust their cut-off scores accordingly, but not necessarily too much lower, in order to fulfil their needs for a suitable pool of candidates from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities from which to draw.

The situation as it is is an arms race for the highest possible numbers, and aside from the fact that ther is little meaningful difference between 3.9/173 and a 3.7/169, stresses the entire applications system unecessarily, largely jettisoning the idea of a holistic admissions in the process.

I don't know if I'm being clear, but it's late  :D

HK

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #56 on: March 21, 2006, 11:34:44 PM »

Red, wouldn't the minimum standard likely be the same for each school? Since the material learned is the same at all schools, the competency level to understand the material is probably constant. However, at Harvard, for example, the class is made up of presumably smarter students than a much lower ranked school. It would seem that judging applicants on the numerical criteria compared with other applicants guarantees at least a class of comparable intellect; but since there are currently no cutoffs it allows for those subjective calls where a person's complete qualifications may indicate that they can compete irrespective of a weakness in one numerical qualification (ie, LSAT or GPA).

If we allow schools to set different minimum standards wouldn't we risk having Harvard set a minimum standard that likely eliminates the vast majority of the poor and minorities? Almost like literacy tests for voting... I'm not sure how it works in B-school though and I'm unclear about how it works in general. Perhaps you can clarify for me.

I do agree with your general philosophy though and the inadequacy of the current system.


Red. has a good point. I think your comment here assumes that the cutoff would be too high to allow enough disadvantaged students in. Schools could set the cutoff where they choose in order to build the class that they want.

fincavigia

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #57 on: March 22, 2006, 10:15:19 PM »
What are some of the disadvantage's URM's face in college grading and the LSAT? Why can't they be judged on the same criteria as their non-URM classmates?

Mind you, I'm not some bitter racist or some ultra right-winger. I'm just interested in why someone deserves a leg up because of his/her skin color. I was for affirmative-action for a long time, but that ethics class really presented an interesting point.

Is ok to factor in race? And if so, when? I would say one's race should not hurt or help someone in admissions. On the other hand, I also believe it's in our societies best interest not to have every lawyer be white male.

And if it is ethical to factor one's race, where does it stop?

lkny

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Re: Morality of AA
« Reply #58 on: April 03, 2006, 11:29:19 PM »
Isn't that the question here. We would all probably agree that it was an immoral practice for schools to give preference to someone because they were White and Protestant when they did.
It would be morally wrong IMO to give preference to someone because you believe they are of an inferior race which was the motivating factor behind preferential treatment of WASPs. But there is nothing morally wrong with giving preference to someone because you believe that the student body can benefit from some diversity.

Religion is another story. Why shouldn't a Catholic school be able to prefer students who they believe will promote the values of the Catholic faith? Why isn't that a valid criterion for admissions?