Phi Beta Cons

Admissions Discrimination at Ohio State and Miami

The Center for Equal Opportunity released a study earlier this week that analyzed undergrad admissions data we had obtained from Ohio State and Miami University and concluded that heavy preferences are given to African American and, to a lesser extent, Latino applicants over white and, again to a lesser extent, Asian applicants. The study is posted on our website here, and Linda Chavez and I have written about it here and here, respectively.

The universities’ response is that, while we considered test scores, grades, residency, and other variables in addition to race, we did not consider all the variables they consider. In other words, they are apparently claiming that the severe disparities we found can be explained away by the fact that African Americans write much, much more persuasive admission essays than do whites, for example, and that Latinos get much, much better letters of recommendation than do Asians. To which our response is . . . be serious. Such “soft” factors are unlikely to break along racial lines — or, if they do, they are likely to break along the same racial lines that test scores and grades do (for example, wouldn’t teachers be more impressed with, and write more glowing letters of recommendation for, students who get good grades?), which would leave the universities with even more to explain.

The universities may not want to stop their discrimination, but perhaps the new governor and/or state legislature will. Or, barring that, perhaps the people themselves will, through a ballot initiative (as have California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, and Arizona). As we read every day in the newspaper, the latest census demonstrates that we are increasingly a mulitracial and multiethnic nation: In such a nation, it is untenable to have public officials sorting people by skin color and what country their ancestors came from, and treating some better and others worse based on which silly little box they check.