“The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset. But it’s really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions.”
UC Berkeley College Republicans president Shawn Lewis • Discussing his group’s reasoning for having a bake sale where people paid different prices based on their race and gender. The pricing scale’s kinda like this: $2 for whites, $1.50 for Asians, $1 for Latinos, $0.75 for Blacks and $0.25 for Native Americans — with a discount of 25 cents for women of all races. As you might guess, this bake sale, scheduled for Tuesday, is flaring up emotions quicker than a character in the movie “PCU.” It’s not the first time it’s been tried — a couple of other schools have tried the idea, and it’s been shut down at least once. What do you think? Does this seem disrespectful and worth getting angry over, or is there a valid point here? (h/t ProducerMatthew) source (via • follow)
I just want to make a few observations. These type of events were once called affirmative action bake sales, but affirmative action hasn’t been practiced in California since 1996 so they named this particular event “Increase Diversity Bake Sale.” The problems with the new bake sale are the same as the problems with the old bake sales, mainly that they’re stupid so don’t let the name distract you. From The Daily Californian, the on-campus newspaper,
The bake sale is in protest of SB 185,which, if signed by Brown, would allow California public universities to consider a number of non-academic factors such as race, gender, and nationality in the admissions process in order to increase campus diversity.
California public universities stopped considering race in admissions in 1997 after California voters passed Proposition 209.
According to Joey Freeman, ASUC External Affairs Vice President — who said he found the event “incredibly offensive” — there are a number of misconceptions about the legislation, namely that it gives preference to underrerpresented minorities. He emphasized that the bill would only allow — not require — admissions officers to consider race and nationality.
The emphasis is mine. The following, from The Daily Californian, is from another article that touches upon SB 185,
Though Proposition 209 bans awarding admissions decisions based on race and ethnicity alone, SB 185 would allow admissions officers to view ethnicity as part of the student’s background as a whole, according to Jesse Choper, a UC Berkeley law professor who specializes in race.
The bill would only authorize UC and CSU to consider race, gender, ethnicity and other relevant factors in admissions decisions, but will not mandate them to do so.
“Even if Jerry Brown does sign this into law, we will still need to push the regents to implement this bill,” said CalSERVE Senator Sydney Fang, who co-authored the bill, at the meeting. “The bill is a push for admissions to be even more sensitive to how race, gender, ethnicity as well as socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and disability affect our opportunities.”
The emphasis are mine. I agree with Senator Fang but let’s put that aside for now. For anyone interested in the raw data, these are the freshman admission rates since 2007. The breakdown for Fall 2011 is as follows,
- 13.8% Latino/ Chicano
- 3.4% African American
- 0.8% American Indian
While some of these percentages may be up from previous years (lamentably not American Indian), the aforementioned ethnicities collectively constitute only 18% of the entering freshman student body. These percentages were previously 16.3% in 2007, 16.3% in 2008, 16.4% in 2009, and 16.6% in 2010. Please note that the student population has been increasing every year.
Some of you may have also noticed that the Latino/ Chicano ethnicity rose by a whopping 1.2%, an astute observation might I add. However before you make any potentially racist comments, I would love to draw your attention to the following reports by Pew Hispanic Center,
- Hispanic College Enrollment Spikes (white enrollment drops by 4%)
- Hispanic Household Wealth Fell by 66% (white wealth drops by 15%)
- Hispanics Account for More than Half of Nation’s Growth (since 2000)
I recommend that you read these reports, particularly this very long report which explains how these increases in college enrollment within the Hispanic community and Black community transcend demographic shifts. It also makes a very interesting claim,
The 320,000 student decline in young white enrollment since 2009 is a 4% decline and the largest decline in percentage terms since at least 1993 (when this historical series begins). The decline partly reflects that the size of the white 18- to 24-year-old population peaked in 2008.
In other words, as Hispanic populations grow and begin to enroll into college at an increased rate (though predominantly community college), they have also seen their household wealth decline by 66%. During this same period, white 18-14 year old enrollment populations seem to have peaked since 2008 while only experiencing a 15% decline in household wealth. This creates a problem for obvious reasons and can lead to some serious misinterpretation of data.
At UC Berkeley, the finest public university in the world might I add, the percentages of Hispanic admits have remained proportionally the same in recent years. With special consideration that the university lies within a state where Hispanics represent 37.6% of the population, freshmen Hispanic enrollment rates (13.8% of the entering freshmen class) are particularly troublesome. SB 185, in conjunction with the latest research on why these discrepancies exist, seeks to address and ameliorate these problems.
Personal: As a Hispanic male who was admitted, attended and is currently re-attending UC Berkeley, my GPA (about average for Berkeley freshman admits) and SAT scores (an exam I had no money to test prep for and thought was only one hour, about average for UC Berkeley admits) do not say anything about me. They do not speak about some of the disadvantages that plagued my upbringing. They do not mention that my high school had one college counselor for a population of ~4,500 students. They do not mention that my 700-800 high school student graduation class initially had 1,900 entering freshman. They do not mention that we could not take books home because the school could not afford to update them. They do not mention that even my AP courses had 40-60 students. They do not mention that my family at times survived because of welfare or that having a single mother who works two jobs means that you, as the eldest child, suddenly adopt responsibilities that you can’t add or quantify on college applications. These are just a few of the many problems that were not and are still not reflected in the GPA or SAT score of me or many other Latino’s akin to me. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, in fact I wasn’t born using any kind of spoon, but it didn’t stop me from trying my best under the circumstances that I was born into. In addition, I did not and do not expect UC Berkeley to grant me or anyone else admission simply because of an ethnicity, particularly if the GPA or SAT scores are drastically lower than those of other ethnicities, I just want them to understand some of those circumstances and disadvantages that plague particular underrepresented communities. It’s not reverse discrimination, it’s just an admission that the playing field isn’t level.