A New Post-Schuette Challenge? UCLA Professor Accuses School Of Circumventing State Ban On Use Of Race In Admissions In New Book

image_previewUcla_logoWe recently discussed the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Schuette v. BAMN that states, like Michigan, can prohibit any use of race in admissions in a “color-blind” state entrance system for colleges and universities. Now, a leading school in one of the states with such a color-blind rule is being accused of violating state law by one of its professors. Tim Groseclose, a political science professor at UCLA, has posted data that he was able to obtain from the school that he argues is proof of “cheating” by school officials who refuse to comply with the state law. The question is whether this will be the basis for a post-Schuette challenge in states like California.


31nQs+twCGL._BO1,204,203,200_Groseclose is the author of a new book “Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA.” The book is based on data that he reviewed from 2006-2009. Groseclose was suspicious when he found black applicants were accepted at a 43 percent rate while whites were accepted at a 15 percent rate and Asians at an 18 percent rate. He also found that black applicants whose families had incomes exceeding $100,000 were about twice as likely to be accepted in round two as Asian and white kids whose families make just $30,000 with similar test scores, grades and essays. He says that, after protests for more minority students in 2006, the school started using a “holistic” approach to circumvent the ban on race as a criteria for selection. He says that black enrollment doubled the very next year.

Groseclose says that after he raised his concerns and asked to review the admissions data, he was denied access. Instead, the university appointed UCLA Sociology Prof. Robert Mare to conduct a review. The report declared no “bias” in the admissions process. However, Groseclose said that he reviewed the data and found that “245 more North Asian applicants would have been admitted, which would be almost a 9 percent increase . . . 121 fewer black applicants would have been admitted . . . [a 33 percent decrease].” He found similar advantages given to Hispanic students.

Groseclose lucked out on his timing for the book. It is coming out in the aftermath of the decision in Schuette v. BAMN, as we have discussed previously (here and here). California is one of the eight states with a ban on the use of race to affect admissions decisions. Groseclose’s research may be the foundation for a challenge that raises an interesting comparison to prior discrimination cases. Courts will often look at not just de jure discrimination but de facto discrimination. Groseclose is accusing academic colleagues and administration of openly circumventing the state law by shielding the use of race in the name of “holistic” admissions.

I do think that some academics actively try to circumvent such limits to achieve greater diversity — something the majority of academic value as a high priority in education. However, this is also an area that can be difficult to evaluate because admissions at top schools look at individual records and balance multiple factors. Courts have been reluctant to assign improper motives in such selections. However, Grossclose is suggesting that, just as discrimination cases are often based on a statistical disparity, the same can be shown in the statistical evidence of the race of admitted students. With the ruling in Schuette, such an argument may now have added weight with courts who might have dismissed challenges in the past.

Groseclose holds the Marvin Hoffenberg Chair of American Politics. He received his PhD in 1992 from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and his academic research focuses mainly upon Congress, media bias, and mathematical models of politics.

25 thoughts on “A New Post-Schuette Challenge? UCLA Professor Accuses School Of Circumventing State Ban On Use Of Race In Admissions In New Book”

  1. Lemme see if I can keep this straight. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, et. al., in the United States of America, 13 British colonies violently separated by the Declaration of Independence, under the Constitution, it has come to this: Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Phillipino-Americans, Arab-Americans, African-Americans, etc., and then there’s those pesky old, wait for it, “whites.” Those taxing British made the American revolutionaries really mad. I guess a little old thing like being an inferior “white” won’t bother their ancestors. Right? Talk about your juxtaposition.

  2. Admissions (and jobs) should be awarded on merit alone, in a color/gender blind basis.

    What if a parent discovers that her eminently qualified child, gifted academically, did not get into college because of the color of his skin, while a child with worse grades and qualifications got in because his was the “right” color?

  3. This nut-job Tim Groseclose tells his pals on faux snooze that without the media bias he has “discovered” America would vote like Texans in the national elections (Media Matters). He is very close to gross this Groseclose dood.

  4. Paul – great that the courts see it. Do the schools recognize it and act on it?

    1. Shuler – some schools are starting to implement it since it complies with SC decisions.

  5. The guy is a wrong-wing nut noted for bias in prior books.

    And noted for bias in work at right-wing think tanks (warmongers think “tanks” anytime a problem arises).

  6. But every one above presentable test score range and presentable grade point range into a large bucket. Start pulling the names at random. Have a blind foreigner do the pulling. Go with the flow.

  7. Maybe favor should be given on economic basis, not race. That seems to be much more the heart of matters in America.

    1. Shuler – the courts have looked favorable on this as a factor in selecting students.

  8. Seems like the ones who get the short end of the stick are those who were denied entry due to their race. What fault was this of the individual student? This should be investigated by an objective state agency.

  9. Paul, there are many attributes that make up one’s qualifications. There are many things that make up diversity. Applying a weight to all the different attributes is more of an art than a science. I find a truly diverse mix to be far more interesting and educational than one of a homogeneous nature.

    There is nothing in the article to support your claim that whites and Asians who were turned down had higher scores than Blacks or Hispanics. There is more to an applicant than test scores. Additional attributes would include extra curricular activities, community involvement, volunteer work, etc.

    1. bettykath – I would agree with you that a diverse student population is ideal. However, you do not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In California, under their old AA system, Whites and Asians were discriminated against for entrance to the university system. Supposedly that system had changed, but now this professor has found that it really hasn’t changed. It’s the same song, just a different title, according to him.

  10. Paul, I’m working with the information presented and showed how the percentages could be misleading. The professor wants to sell his book. A statistician wanting to make a lot of money first asks “what do you want me to prove?” Who would expect that the pool of Blacks applying would be better qualified that the pool of whites? Horrors!

    1. bettykath – the problem, especially in California, is that whites and Asians with higher scores were turned down for blacks and Hispanics with lower scores. The question to ask is, who do you want in your university, the best qualified or the best racial mix.

  11. 45 were accepted; 250 Asians applied, 45 were accepted.

    Looking at it another way, we mustn’t let anything get in the way of preserving white privilege. This writeup doesn’t convince me that the professor is presenting a completely fair analysis.

  12. “Groseclose was suspicious when he found black applicants were accepted at a 43 percent rate while whites were accepted at a 15 percent rate and Asians at an 18 percent rate. ” I’ll bet the percentage is based on the number of applications in each category, i.e., many more whites and Asians applied than Blacks. For example, 100 Blacks applied, 43 were accepted; 300 whites applied;

    1. bettykath – I think you would have to read the book to make the distinction. There were claims that whites and Asians were being discriminated against under the old system of affirmative action.

  13. Why do universities continue to discriminate?

    Doesn’t matter if whites are given easier entrance or prevented from enrolling – either way it is discrimination.

    Academics often seem to think that they are above both the law and morality.

  14. Given the track record of the California schools on racism, both for and against, I think Groseclose is probably right on target. I think Janet Napolitano may have a nasty lawsuit on her hands. Luckily for her, she is a former research attorney.

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