Posted on July 9, 2004

“Underrepresented” In Virginia

John Rosenberg, Discriminations, July 8, 2004

The University of Virginia Cavalier Daily reports today that next fall’s entering freshman class is “more diverse” than last year. By that it means next fall’s freshman class is 10% black, compared to 9% last fall. (Similarly, Hispanics increased from 3% to 5% and “Asian and Asian Americans” increased from 13% to 14%. A chart in the print edition showing last year’s numbers does not appear in the online version.)

The increase in minority acceptances at the University is contrary to results seen at peer institutions such as the University of Michigan and University of California at Berkeley, both of which experienced decreases in minority acceptances … “This year there was more money available to do more traveling and reach out a little more,”[director of the Minority Outreach Office Valerie] Gregory said.

“We made more high school visits and the money allowed us to visit New York, Philadelphia and some other areas that typically have high minority populations.” UVa, I’m sure, has no idea how many Jews, Mormons, or Pentecostals there are in the entering class.

But if, in the interest of “diversity,” it did track such numbers, I wonder if a director of “Outreach” would feel so free to say she got extra money to visit New York and Los Angeles, where many Jews are known to live, as well as to rural Alabama (or even some hollows in the nearby Blue Ridge) where born again Christians have been known to congregate.

But even without any concern for religious diversity, all is not well at Mr. Jefferson’s university: “Women comprise 54 percent of the class for the second year in a row …” Still, I doubt whether there are any plans to institute admissions preferences for the underrepresented males, to visit areas or schools that typically have high male populations, or to interview a disproportionate number of males in hopes of attracting more of them. I’m sure such behavior would be regarded as discriminatory.

Meanwhile, across the commonwealth in Fairfax County, the highly selective Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology continues to be the subject of intense debate over its unrepresentative student body. (See here and here for some background on this debate.)

TJ attracts around 3,000 applicants a year from Fairfax and surrounding counties. That number is winnowed down to 800 semi-finalists, from which a class of 400 or so is ultimately selected. The school used to “consider” race until lawyers told them to s several years ago. As a result, the Washington Post reports today, “[l]ast year, the student body was about 1 percent black and 2 percent Hispanic.” You can predict the response: A proposal to diversify the student body at the elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology by giving less weight to applicants’ test scores is on the Fairfax County School Board agenda for the first time tonight …

As usual, diversity is not what is at issue here. A correspondent cited in one of my posts above who is a recent graduate of TJ wrote that in his class of 400 there were 139 Asians. Severely limiting the number of Asians would allow TJ to provide much more “diversity” than putting a thumb on the admissions scales to admit a few more blacks and Hispanics.

And since the Supremes have given the green light to discriminating to produce “diversity,” why don’t they do it? I wonder if the quaint old principle that discrimination on the basis of race is wrong still lives on, even among some educators.