Preference Puzzles

A photo accompanying Robert Weissberg’s article on the University of Wisconsin mobbing of Roger Clegg shows a female student, possibly Hispanic, holding a sign that says, “The spot I have, I have earned.”

This reminded me of a rather dopey fellow named Francis Lawrence some years back, an administrator at a New Jersey college, who was filmed saying at a semi-private sort of meeting that racial preferences were going to be needed indefinitely because minorities just didn’t have the scores. He may have mentioned IQ, I’m not sure. He was a strong proponent of preferences, and his purpose was to squelch quite ruthlessly any challenge to them. But the film clip circulated and caused an uproar because of the remark about minorities not having the same academic ability. Evidently, the minority students at his school had been led to believe that they had been admitted the same as everyone else. It was rather poignant in the working out; you felt the students’ pain at having been lied to.

I wonder what the student in this photo is thinking. One, the university may have conveyed to her in some vague manner or other, as did the New Jersey college to its students, that it doesn’t really use preferences or that they are so finely calibrated so as not to be an issue — an idea completely undercut by the CEO studies that Clegg had come to the campus to discuss. Two, she may well have earned her place the same as white students, and she is resentful of any imputation otherwise; however, given her minority status, that may never be certain. Three, given the belligerence of today, and such groups thuggishly advancing preferences as By Any Means Necessary, she may be expressing her conviction that she has “earned her place” at least in part by virtue of being a minority and gracing the university with “diversity.”