The Corner

Education

More on Racial/Ethnic/Gender Preference in Washington State

As was insightfully discussed on NRO last week by Heather Mac Donald and Peter Kirsanow, next week the voters in the state of Washington will decide whether to remove the ban there — on discrimination and preferences in their state and local government contracting, employment, and education — that they overwhelmingly endorsed in a similar ballot initiative in 1998.  

Just before that earlier election, the Center for Equal Opportunity published a study that documented the extent to which such discrimination was found at the University of Washington and Washington State University. We have recently sent this study to some of our allies out there, noting that it is fair to point out to the voters this time around that this is the sort of discrimination they can expect to see if the status quo ante returns.

The study can be found on CEO’s website here. And here’s its executive summary:

  • Both the University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU) show a substantial qualifications gap between white and black enrollees.  Differences in verbal SATs are 80 points at UW and 70 points at WSU, differences in math SATs are 140 points at UW and 110 points at WSU, and differences in grade point averages (GPAs) are 0.47 of a grade point at UW and 0.37 of a grade point at WSU.
  • Both UW and WSU show a smaller qualifications gap between white and Hispanic enrollees.  Differences in verbal SATs are 30 points at UW and 40 points at WSU, differences in math SATs are 70 points at UW and 25 points at WSU, and differences in GPAs are 0.18 of a grade point at UW and 0.12 of a grade point at WSU.
  • There is little evidence that Asians receive special preferences at either UW or WSU.  Differences between whites and Asians are 60 points on verbal SATs at UW and 30 points at WSU, differences in math SATs are 20 points at [UW] and minus 20 points at WSU (indicating that the Asian enrollee median is higher than the white median), and differences in GPAs are 0.02 of a grade point at UW and 0.08 of a grade point at WSU.
  • Earlier studies have found that the more competitive the school’s admission standards, the greater the degree of racial or ethnic preference shown.  Consistent with this result, the qualifications gaps are greater at UW than they are at WSU.
  • Both universities routinely reject many white applicants with higher test scores and grades than black applicants who are admitted.
  • The six-year graduation rates of white students are higher than their black counterparts at both UW and WSU.  At UW, the graduation rate for whites is nearly two-and-a-half times that for blacks (70 percent versus 29 percent).  This is consistent with the operation of racial preferences and similar to what we have found elsewhere, indicating that preferences have a negative impact on graduation rates.

Note that the evidence in our study was that not only whites but also Asian Americans were being discriminated against in university admissions. Of course, it has become even more well-known since 1998 that, left to their own devices, schools will engage in anti-Asian American admissions discrimination. We have seen this, most prominently, at Harvard University. And we have also noted to our allies in the Evergreen State that CEO’s most recent study of five Virginia public universities found that all five discriminated against Asian-American student applicants.

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