The Harvard Crimson appears to decry affirmative action for Americans from rural areas

I say “appears” in the title because this editorial, from the Harvard Crimson of all places (that’s the student newspaper), is so poorly written that I’m not 100% sure about what it says. Since it’s a short editorial of 5 paragraphs, I’m asking readers to see if my interpretation is correct. You can read it by clicking on the screenshot below; note that it’s a product of the entire editorial board:

My take is that the piece decries Harvard’s attempt to recruit rural American students because that constitutes a form of “geographical affirmative action”—presumably reflecting both socioeconomic background, politics, and so on—that interferes with what the Crimson sees as real affirmative action: that based on race and ethnicity. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. Let’s put the paragraphs up one by one (indented) with my reaction (flush left):

With anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions’s lawsuit against Harvard underway, court documents demonstrated last week that Harvard, in order to attract a more geographically diverse student body, sends interest letters to students from rural “sparse country” with PSAT scores lower than the usual threshold to receive such letters. However, Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons testified that this threshold is not lowered for Asian Americans. While we affirm the importance of geographical diversity in Harvard’s admissions, we would be remiss not to underscore the interrelatedness between geography, racial, and socioeconomic diversity.

The background to the letter, as indicated in that paragraph, is the lawsuit against Harvard by a group representing Asian Americans who were denied admission despite their having higher scores, grades, and extracurricular achievements than members of other ethnic groups—particularly blacks and Hispanics, who, as everyone knows, are admitted at a much higher rate with lower scores. Harvard fought tooth and nail to avoid divulging its admission criteria in this case, but it lost.

Documents presented to the court revealed that what hurt the Asian-Americans was largely Harvard’s downgrading of these applicants’ “personality scores”: assessments of their character and persona given subjectively by the admissions office, who never meet the applicants. (Alumni interviewers who did interview Asian Americans in person did not give them lower personality scores.) This editorial deals with “interest letters” targeted to rural Americans with PSAT (preliminary SATs, a standardized test) scores lower than those usually sufficient to prompt Harvard’s sending of those letters. However, apparently Asian-Americans with lower PSAT scores didn’t get the “consider Harvard” letters.

This is apparently a way to trawl into the admissions net students from rural America who wouldn’t usually apply to Harvard. In other words, it’s a form of affirmative action for “middle of America” students who have backgrounds different from the affluent and achieving elite who constitute much of Harvard’s student population. But what the editorial board means by “we would be remiss not to underscore the interrelatedness between geography, racial, and socioeconomic diversity” eludes me. It appears to be some form of warped intersectionality, but I think they really mean “if we consider geography preferentially, it means we might have to downgrade the emphasis on race or socioeconomic class”.  Whatever it means, it’s bad and obscurantist writing. Doesn’t Harvard teach its students to write clearly?

The next paragraph:

Harvard is going through a difficult time defending affirmative action as an important practice that creates a diverse environment on Harvard’s campus. The admissions process is by no means perfect, and one issue lies in the aforementioned way in which Harvard recruits rural students to apply to the College.

This is a superfluous paragraph, but in the second, poorly written sentence we get an inkling that recruiting rural students is somehow a problem for affirmative action.

The next paragraph:

In that vein, the College must change its practices with respect to recruitment of students from “sparse country.” Part of its mission is to encourage intellectual transformation by having students live in a diverse environment with people from various backgrounds and with different identities, and diversity is multifaceted. Therefore, if Harvard wants to create a truly diverse college community, it must not sacrifice some forms of diversity for others. In this case, Harvard has sacrificed racial and socioeconomic diversity for geographic diversity. Indeed, the Admissions Office’s use of lower standards when sending interest letters to white students from rural states unfairly benefitted those students at the expense of rural students from minority races and lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Here we have a petulant DEMAND: the college must changes its practices to create more diversity among its students.  In the case above, Harvard is trying to include geographic diversity, which, since we’re talking rural American, probably comes with ideological diversity and simply more diverse viewpoints held by those from rural backgrounds.

I see that as a useful form of diversity, and experienced it myself when I went to college and encountered many students from small, rural areas of Virginia. It was eye-opening but nice to interact with those people, and many remain my friends (let me add that William and Mary hardly had any black students then: maybe one in my class of 969!)

What the Crimson is beefing about seems to be that by simply sending out letters to students (not Asian students, mind you) from rural areas, students with lower than normal test scores, it is “sacrificing” racial and socioeconomic diversity for geographic diversity. But socioeconomic diversity and viewpoint diversity are surely correlated with geographic diversity in this case, simply because students from rural areas are likely not as well off as those from urban areas and have, on average, different political and religious views. (I’m just guessing here, of course.)

The claim that the letters of interest are sent to “white students” from rural states as opposed to nonwhite students or “those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds” must surely be speculation on the editors’ part, as I doubt that Harvard knows the ethnicity AND socioeconomic status of those lower-PSAT rural students to whom they send letters. Nor do I think that Harvard is targeting only white students from those areas; why would they do that? Rather, the Crimson editors seem exercised by the fact that any white rural students who get these letters constitutes unfairness to minority and poor students.

That makes no sense to me; after all, these are just “interest letters” that probably say something like “we know about you and would like you to consider applying to Harvard.” It is by no means a guarantee of admission to Harvard, merely an attempt to swell the applicant pool by getting more rural students.

Penultimate paragarph:

Though we uphold our standing behind the Admissions Office in its support of affirmative action, its diversity search leaves much room for improvement. To maintain its integrity, the Admissions Office must stop attempting to cram many different backgrounds and ideas into a very small number of boxes to tick, as it belittles the entire process as well as the students that work hard to be competitive applicants.

Another demand. My translation: Harvard should stop trying to recruit rural students and, in general, reduce the number of “different backgrounds” it’s looking for. I think the editors mean that Harvard should concentrate largely or entirely on black and Hispanic students.

We would like to see Harvard continue its efforts to make the campus a truly inclusive space. In order to do so, the College should actively address such problems and make the admissions process more equitable. As a result, the Admissions Office should change its approach to this particular diversity search, however well-intentioned it may be. Harvard should critically analyze its scouting processes to minimize bias and ensure the comprehensive evaluation of every prospective student. In sum, the Admissions Office should not use one form of diversity to belittle another. Students deserve better than that.

This really says nothing beyond what was said in the previous paragraph. However, the phrase “the Admissions Office should not use one form of diversity to belittle another” is both wrong and gramatically incorrect. Nothing is being “belittled”: letters are being sent to rural students. That apparently has the editors upset because they think that increasing geographic diversity will necessarily reduce racial diversity. At least that’s my take on their editorial. But if that’s what they’re trying to say, why don’t they say it clearly?

72 Comments

  1. mikeyc
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    “Four legs good, two legs bad.”

    I suspect the reason for this editorial is the corollary; rural = white and conservative.

    • JB
      Posted October 31, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      This was my reaction as well. Rural America is overwhelmingly white.

  2. Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I was accepted in 1967 to Harvard Class of 1971 because I represented the farming pool of students; just in my class a grain farmer from Minnesota, a dairy farmer from Indiana, a commercial melon gardener from New York, a beef rancher from Wyoming, and a few others. How many alumni can claim to a K-6 education in a one-room country schoolhouse? Would definitely be a pity if the outcome of this judicial case will diminish TRUE diversity at Harvard, Yale, and the other top private colleges. Scott Moody, Professor Emeritus Evolutionary Biology at Ohio University.

  3. Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    It seems clear to me. Mikeyc is right but I can take it a little further.

    They like affirmative action but not when it is applied to a group that is mostly white. However, they don’t want to say “white” so they disingenuously come out against “geographic diversity” for fear it will invite unwanted attention to Harvard’s already heavily scrutinized admissions policy.

    • JB
      Posted October 31, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Too bad Sarah Jeong isn’t still at Harvard: she has no problem saying “white”.

  4. GBJames
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Doc. I can not make sense of this. But I’m pretty sure they are unhappy about something.

  5. Adam M.
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I think everyone knows that “diverse” doesn’t really mean diverse, it just means “less white people and more black and Hispanic people”, or occasionally “more LGBT people”. Even talk of “diverse perspectives and viewpoints” seems to be coded language for the same.

    At my company, which is quite large and well-known, posters and handbooks talk about needing diverse viewpoints and perspectives, because I think everybody supports that. (I do.) But in the executive reports, despite the preamble saying how they’re working to increase diverse viewpoints, the actual metrics for their efforts are “female representation”, “Black representation”, and “LatinX representation”, and the sizes and numbers of black-, Hispanic-, women-, and LGBT-only programs and support groups. The stated executive goals for next year are to increase the representations by X percentage points (which of course requires decreasing the percentages of other people).

    On the face of it, it seems like a strange disconnect between the stated goal and the metrics. The assumption seems to be that the diverse viewpoints and perspectives necessarily come from people with certain skin colors. The assumption that Hispanic people must, as a group, think differently, seems almost racist in itself.

    But it’s a very technical company. Is there black math, female math, and Hispanic math? When doing some engineering, do I need to ask what the Hispanic and female perspectives are on some mathematical concept? It’s absurd, which is, of course, why they always talk about needing “diverse viewpoints and perspectives” rather than “diverse skin colors”. I’m sure whites from the western, northern, and eastern Europe, and the USA, all have different perspectives, but nobody is interested in that kind of diversity.

    I must hasten to say that I support efforts to find and recruit talented people of other races, etc., but not the lowering of standards in order to get other races in the company at any cost. It’s mostly the doublespeak that chafes on me…

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      It bothers me too, for all the reasons you state. However, it is difficult to see how it might work differently. There are so many possible “minorities”. Should a company really be accused of, say, not having enough Italians?

      I accept that having diverse viewpoints is a good thing but is race or country of origin a reasonable proxy for having a diverse viewpoint? Perhaps they should administer some sort of “viewpoint diversity” exam to job applicants. This will give a bump to applicants that are best able to think outside the box. I can imagine the rejection letters: “Sorry, but we already have lots of employees that think like you do.”

    • a-non
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      I think diversity is an interesting word, and that it owes much of its popularity to enabling exactly such doublespeak.

      I mean, who would want to be the board member in charge of “race image damage control”? How exactly would he explain the importance of his mission, at corporate breakfasts?

      If they actually wished to hire for viewpoint diversity, they would hire people with training (or experience) in other fields. Maybe your engineering company could hire some former watchmakers, architects, ship-builders, computer scientists… I don’t know exactly, but many people from not-too-far disciplines could be cross-trained and might bring new perspectives, if this was actually at all what was desired.

  6. Christopher
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Anyone who doesn’t understand the socioeconomic disadvantage of the rural poor probably hasn’t ever stepped outside their trendy, gentrified urban neighborhood or their Wonderbread suburban cul de sac.

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Given the outcome of the last presidential election, perhaps they are deemed most in need of a good education?

      • Posted October 31, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Education was not a factor.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 31, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          It might be the lack of education.

          • Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            Correlation is not causation.

            • GBJames
              Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

              It might be.

              • Posted November 1, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

                College education was highly correlated to support for Clinton vs. trump. But what specifically from that college education was learned to make one not support trump? Epistemology? Critical Theory?

                College education is more likely a marker for a cultural divide that drives the difference in voting patterns.

      • Posted November 11, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Maybe these people voted for the candidate who didn’t constantly send them messages that they were unwanted.

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      I think we would do well to broaden the recognition of that! Racial minorities are often trapped in generations of poverty, but the rural poor (including poor white people) really do face much the same problem.
      Poor is poor, and it seems… odd to want to help one but not the other.

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I read it the way you do, Jerry.

    To maintain its integrity, the Admissions Office must stop attempting to cram many different backgrounds and ideas into a very small number of boxes to tick, as it belittles the entire process as well as the students that work hard to be competitive applicants.

    The fact is that “diversity” had be sliced many ways, and it is impossible to reconcile all of them. I’ll let Benjy Benjamin say it.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Well, that’s a diverse result of a blockquote. Obviously, the last paragraph is mine, and not a quote.

  8. eric
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I frankly can’t think of a better, more neutral or reasonable ‘___ action’ initiative than a college trying to bring in people from diverse geographical areas. Culture is so wedded to location across the planet that, if your goal is to have your students interact with people of different perspectives, there’s IMO no better way than to fill your campus with people from the six main continents including many different areas in those continents. The US is the third largest country in the world, measured either by population OR land area. It absolutely makes sense for a US University, wanting to serve US students, to bring in students from across that massive area, diverse cultures, and population base.

    I do somewhat agree with the letter-writer that Harvard shouldn’t have lower score requirements for one group vs. another, but that could be easily fixed by an internal assessment of what scores generally correlates with successful program completion, and not requiring any more than that (i.e. use other criteria for all candidates with sufficient scores).

    In this case, Harvard has sacrificed racial and socioeconomic diversity for geographic diversity.

    This made me LOL, given that the court case is about the legality (or illegality) of Harvard’s attempts to avoid filling the school up with >60% middle-upper class asian urban and suburban background students. Talk about getting things backwards.

  9. phil brown
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your interpretation. I imagine they are being deliberately coy. Most people who get trough the editorial will suss the message, but it doesn’t give away any soundbites that can be tweeted, which would show that the editors disvalue certain types of diversity (and which would be interpreted as anti-white).

    If it’s the case that coming from a rural background gives rise to educational disadvantage, I’m not sure why champions of diversity should discount this.

  10. TD2000
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    How about having the only goal of college admissions be that the incoming freshman class reflects the diversity of the US population as a whole? Thus, each class should be:

    72% white (urban and rural)
    17% latino
    12% black
    7% asian/Indian
    2% gay
    etc

    This seems like the only fair method to me. How does Harvard stack up? For the incoming freshman class:

    43% white
    12% latino
    15% black
    22% asian/Indian

    Obviously, Harvard is a racist institution. The only counter-argument that they can make is that whites deserve the discrimination to redress historical wrongs.

    • mikeyc
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      This is not at all obvious. You are eliding over differences in group achievement, which are themselves affected by a number of factors. There is simply no reason to think that ANY school population ought to reflect the proportions of a population, unless merit has no place in admissions. Human populations vary in all sorts of ways, including academic achievement. It isn’t due to racism.

      • TD2000
        Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        The only other fair solution then, by your logic, is to have no racial quotas. If that means Harvard is 70% Asian, then so be it.

        I would actually prefer that solution, since there is no reverse discrimination — and it might eventually spur other ethnicities/races to prioritize education instead of sports and smoking meth. (I’m white, by the way.)

        • mikeyc
          Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          I don’t agree that that is the “only fair” way to do it. This is a very difficult issue to deal with, but an admission policy that considers only academic scores can’t be called fair.

          My point in responding to you was your implication that anything other than a college class that is an exact reflection of the US population is due to racism. That is simply not true. I do not know the best way forward, but I am sure that your idea of “fair” isn’t it.

          • TD2000
            Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

            A system that intentionally discriminates against whites and Asians can’t be considered “fair.”

            I’m sure we can both agree that this is a difficult problem, to be sure.

        • Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          + 1

      • Adam M.
        Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        This might be a wrong reading, but I took it to be a sarcastic indictment of the usual presumption that if an organization has fewer women or minorities than the general population that they must be engaging in illegal discrimination, unless they can prove otherwise. (That rule never seems to be applied when it’s whites who are underrepresented.)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          That’s the way I took it, too.

          Harvard is screwed, whatever they do.

          cr

    • eric
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Personally I think the primary goal of a college admissions process is to screen out applicants who will likely fail to complete a degree within a reasonable time (i.e. 4-5 years for undergrads); thus preventing the student from wasting their time and money, and the school from wasting it’s respective resources.

      That probably still leaves many more applicants than spaces. So that’s when other goals come into play, and certainly at that point one can talk about demographic or diversity goals.

      Your idea of not-reflecting the population /= racism is just plain incorrect, however. A school can have many legitimate reasons to pursue diversity. A school wanting to boost or maintain it’s high reputation in international politics might accept a lot more foreign students to do so. Likewise a A&M school might accept more rural applicants to help meet or maintain the “A” part of its mission. A state school might accept more in-state students than a private school would, because of it’s mission to educate the state’s kids. And so on.
      Racial, geographical, and other forms of diversity should certainly be considerations…but not handcuffs.

    • Diane G
      Posted October 31, 2018 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      “72% white (urban and rural)
      17% latino
      12% black
      7% asian/Indian
      2% gay”

      One of these things is not like the others… 😉

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 31, 2018 at 1:45 am | Permalink

        Also “Latino” overlaps hence 108% total excluding “gay” of course

  11. andrewnwest
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Surely they’re using one form of diversity to belittle another themselves?

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Editorial reads as though members of the board took turns picking random words to form its sentences. Goes to show, ain’t been any decent writing done by committee since King James assigned one to translate the bible, and even there one must plow through interminable longueurs to get to the occasional bracing oases.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Given the quality of the writing my guess is that the editorial board has an over-representation of “studies” students. They should diversify.

  13. TD2000
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    A system that intentionally discriminates against whites and Asians can’t be considered “fair.”

    I’m sure we can both agree that this is a difficult problem, to be sure.

  14. Curtis
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Translation:
    “Rural whites are stupid rednecks, white supremacist, Islamaphobic, antisemitic (but not the good leftist kind) bigots who voted for Trump and they are literally Hitler. And have you heard the stupid way they talk? I saw one of them eat pickled feet and pork rinds. Yuck! They should go to Southeast Hicksville Community College with their own kind because they are intolerant. They make me uncomfortable and I should not have to be around them.”

    • TJR
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      It does read very like a long-winded way of saying “How dare you even consider letting PEASANTS in to Harvard!”

    • Filippo
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      As I recall, a big deal was made of Yalie George Herbert Walker Bush eating pork rinds.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      You made me laugh! Esp. with the “good leftist kind” of antisemitic bigot.

  15. Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The editors clearly do not want white students from rural areas to be part of the schools diversity program. The reasons are unclear and unexplained.

    When a school decides to diversify its student body it has to decided what it wants the student body to look like and then shape its policies to achieve the desired result, using language that will meets the requirements laid out by the Supreme Court. That means lying about their intent to make what they want to achieve legal.

    The editotial board did a poor job of justifying why they wasn’t to dnd the practice of including white students from rural areas from the program.

    And who came up with “sparce” as a substitute “rural” and why.

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Why they want to end the practice

  16. Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like the students are fearful of a type of diversity they do not like. “Diversity means what we say it means, not what you say it means.”

    In any case, elite universities would do well to have more rural students attend, regardless of the demographics they have to affirm. Maybe some of these rural students can mitigate the effects of ‘wokrness’.

  17. John Conoboy
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The Harvard students need to travel a bit and see what rural areas are really like. Yes, many are predominately white. But in the south, many rural areas have large African American populations. Many small towns in the mid-west and in the south have large latino populations, especially if they have industries like meat packing. Dodge City, Kansas is now majority Latino. And, we can expect that rural areas have the same percentage of LGBT folks as anywhere else.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Excellent point- I’m glad you brought it up. The rural area I recently moved from had a more diverse population than the (very near an urban center) small town I’m in now. The schools were a 1/3 Latino, and here the elementary school is much more white.

      Rural kids (of any race!) can bring so much experience to the table, they ought not be penalized in admissions.

    • Posted October 31, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      My NorCal Sparse Country is 97% white. Certainly the rural midwest and Appalachia are similar. Overall, though, not a whole lot of rural asians, and that seems to be The Crimson’s beef.

      And, we can expect that rural areas have the same percentage of LGBT folks as anywhere else.

      If no environmental causes are involved, then for teenaged college applicants, that should be true.

  18. Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    What the students really want is less overall diversity across a wide range of peoples for the sake of more non-white students.
    Once again it does not take long for the underlying “alternative racism” to come to the surface.

  19. Larry Smith
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Re: writing quality. Perhaps unclear, fuzzy thinking leads to unclear, fuzzy writing.

  20. Raymond Cox
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting that I cannot find any information about the membership of the editorial board. Maybe they have personal reasons to not want rural whites to compete with (non-Asian) racial minorities.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Cox:

      It is interesting that I cannot find any information about the membership of the editorial board…

      THE EDITORIAL BOARD:

      Staff editorials appear under the “The Crimson Editorial Board” byline and represent the majority view of the Editorial Board. Three times per week, the two Editorial Chairs hold meetings where Crimson editors who have committed to regular attendance decide which topics to write about and what opinions to publish on those topics. The Editorial Chairs, as well as the President, have the final say on all published staff editorials.

      Occasionally, The Crimson Editorial Board is divided about the opinion expressed in a staff editorial. In these cases, dissenting board members have the opportunity to write a dissent.

      MASTHEAD:-

      President:
      Derek G. Xiao ’19

      Managing Editor
      Hannah Natanson ’19

      Editorial Chairs:
      Emmanuel R. R. D’Agostino ’19
      Cristian D. Pleters ’19

      Editorial:
      Elijah T. Ezeji-Okoye ’20, Editorial Comp Director
      Shireen Younus ’20, Editorial Comp Director
      Jessenia N. Class ’20, Associate Editorial Editor
      Caleb J. Esrig ’20, Associate Editorial Editor
      Lorenzo F. Manuali ’21, Associate Editorial Editor
      Robert Miranda ’20, Associate Editorial Editor
      Wonik Son ’19, Associate Editorial Editor
      Richard P. Wang ’20, Associate Editorial Editor
      Jenna M. Wong ’20, Associate Editorial Editor

  21. JezGrove
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Wow Jerry: “my class of 969!” Recruitment practices then were positively medieval…

    More seriously, an interesting discussion with the Irish so-called “supervet” (as in veterinarian) Noel Fitzpatrick on BBC Radio 4 today about the bullying he experienced as a local rural student admitted to a prestigious school as part of its quota system. I’m never sure how well the BBC website works outside of the UK, but you may be able to hear the interview here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000y8g

  22. Davide Spinello
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I cannot blame the editorial board for wanting to prevent toothless incestuous rurals from going to Harvard with the hidden agenda of decreasing the True Diversity. Indeed, as I have learned by reading erudite comments to previous posts

    […] in the USA, the aggrieved white majority wants politicians to roll back the inexorable wave of social and demographic change. They turn to people like Trump for salvation, although he cannot keep his implicit promise of keeping the country dominated by white Christians. Out of desperation they fall for the authoritarian appeal and, for them, democracy can disappear because it no longer serves their needs.

    Therefore, in my reading of reality, these students are bastions of progress against toothless bigots from rural areas. By allowing the just mentioned toothless horde to step on the organic and free range campus of Harvard, they may wear inappropriate Halloween costumes, de facto destroying years and years of tireless work from the Guardians Of The Progress.

  23. tc
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth noting that according to information from the trial, students who received those letters have a higher admission rate than those who do not. The better question that isn’t asked is why do white rural students receive a lower score requirement than white non-rural students while asians are not given the same benefit.

    • Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Once you decide to deversify the student body then one group has be be given an advantage over other groups. There is no other way to achieve the goal. If they want a certain per cent of students to be whites from rural areas then they have to pick some of those students over other students who have better grades and test scores.
      The alternative is to just pick the students with the highest grades and test scores and despense eith sny udea if diversity.
      Diversity requires descriminatin yo achieve the desired results.

  24. JezGrove
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    The only way of solving this problem is to ensure that all of any nation’s children – regardless of parental background or where they live, etc. – get the same standard of education. Then you can simply select the most intelligent kids and forget about everything else.

    Unfortunately, we live in a world in which educational and professional advantages can be bought – how much parents can afford to pay for education and who they know can influence the opportunities that their children have available to them. I’m not expecting that to end any time soon; but in the meantime, (necessarily flawed) measures will be taken to try to level an uneven playing field.

    Provided that they are used carefully, and that their limitations are recognized and minimized to the greatest extent possible, that can only be a good thing, surely? Of course, if some groups of people – wealth, background, connections, and all other considerations being equal – are more successful at attaining admission to the best institutions than others, then that should just be a challenge to the rest to try harder?

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I do not think that an even playing field should be the goal.

  25. Barney
    Posted October 31, 2018 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I read the editorial (and yes, it’s badly written) as saying they object to having a lower standard for rural whites, but not rural Asian Americans. This comes from the testimony:

    “People invited to apply from sparse country are ‘unknown,’ ‘other’ and ‘white,’ correct?” John Hughes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, asked Mr. Fitzsimmons.

    “Yes,” said the dean, who has been in charge of Harvard admissions since 1986.

    “Asians are not included in that list?” Mr. Hughes asked.

    “Not in that particular list,” Mr. Fitzsimmons replied.

    A chart at the start of ‘Day Four’ here seems to show all the possible categories they use.

  26. Posted October 31, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    … we would be remiss not to underscore the interrelatedness between geography, racial, and socioeconomic diversity.

    Except they didn’t, rather merely alluded to it.

    … the Admissions Office’s use of lower standards when sending interest letters to white students from rural states unfairly benefitted those students at the expense of rural students from minority races and lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

    The claim here is that Harvard lowered the PSAT bar for rural whites but not rural minorities and, indirectly, that no lowered standards were extended to urban minorities. Is there any factual basis for those claims?

    Whatever its recruitment practices, it’s obvious that Harvard is not filtering out teenagers who confuse stilted sentences for sophistication.

    • Posted November 11, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      I suppose that the bar for rural students was lowered en masse, without race consideration, so it fell to a level below that for urban whites but still above that for blacks; so rural blacks got nothing from this offer.

  27. Posted October 31, 2018 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Let’s remember that acceptance to a highly selective college/university is influenced by many factors other than academics. Those of you with the following, please move toward the front of the line: athletic ability, musical and artistic talent, science majors, member of an underrepresented group at the school, males, etc.

    • Posted November 1, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Males? Two-thirds of college students are now female. Are you saying universities now actively recruit men to compensate for this?

      • Posted November 1, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        Matt – yes, at least some. I worked at highly selective top-ranked private university for a number of years, and they could have filled a large portion of the class with females more qualified than males. They struggled to get a 60:40 split.

        • Diane G
          Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          This was true at my daughter’s university, too.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 1, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        A majority are female, but not two-thirds. According to US Dept. of Education it was 56% in 2017.

        • Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Depends on the institution; for the first time in quite a while, CU-Boulder has a 51% male first year class.

          • GBJames
            Posted November 1, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            Matt’s comment was not restricted to a particular institution. If you go there… all women’s colleges are 100% female.

      • Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Matt – read your blog; you should write more – very thorough.

        • Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. Very busy running a horse rescue nowadays. Maybe I’ll blog again one of these rainy days.

  28. Posted November 3, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Crimson’s editorial runs interference for (blocking for) their ball-carrier. It draws attention to a “reverse discrimination” to say, as does court argument, Harvard aims at a best student body, diverse in ethnicity, background and ideas. Gives Harvard best chance of winning its case. (“Opposing” “reverse discrim” is also virtuous, but beside the point.)


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