Effective at 6 p.m. Pacific — about a half-hour ago — political-science professor Tim Groseclose resigned from the University of California at Los Angeles’s admissions committee. In an 89-page report, he details his experiences on the committee and the reasons he suspects the admissions process has been plagued by illegal activity. Some of you may remember Professor Groseclose as co-author of a study finding that media bias does, indeed, exist.
Recall that in California, Proposition 209 completely banned racial preferences in public-college admissions. In the report, Professor Groseclose states that he favors racial preferences, so long as they are “executed transparently and within the limits of the law” (his emphasis).
I have spoken with Professor Groseclose and read the report, and will have a detailed analysis early next week. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of the report:
- In the wake of a 2006 LA Times story detailing the paucity of blacks at the school, various officials exerted explicit pressure on the committee to change the admissions process. In response, the school went to a “holistic” system. Previously, one application reader took care of the strictly academic aspects of admissions, while another read personal essays and determined character, personal obstacles, etc. In the holistic system, one reader took care of the whole application, making it possible for material from the personal essay to color judgment in the other areas. Berkeley, where the system was already in place, had an easier time enrolling black students than UCLA had.
- Once the holistic system went into effect, according to one application reader, more applicants mentioned race in their essays. A random black applicant’s chance of being accepted rose, but applicants from other racial groups — including Hispanics, who normally benefit from affirmative action — faced worse chances.
- Professor Groseclose requested a sample of 1,000 random applications with which to statistically analyze the issue. He was denied, and instead, it was decided the whole committee would conduct such a study. But, it turns out, the committee itself would not actually conduct the study but hire an outside researcher — even though the committee members are professors, most with more-than-adequate statistical abilities.
- The committee decided the researcher would not have access to the 2007 data — the applications submitted when the administration was under the greatest pressure to increase black admissions. He (Robert Mare) would also be denied the 2006 data, so he could not do a before-and-after analysis of the holistic system. With the 2008 data alone, however, he can still compare how comparable members of different racial groups fared in the admissions process. The initial data collection will not commence until spring of 2009.