Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Is Harvard's Admissions Policy Racist?

Consider hypothetical university U, and hypothetical races, R1 and R2.
   Suppose U adopts rigorous, state-of-the-art methods of evaluating applicants, and, on the basis of them, concludes that applicants who are members of R1 tend to be, on average, more intelligent than members of R2. Suppose, however, that the evaluation procedure also concludes that members of R2 tend to be more intellectually virtuous (e.g. more intellectually honest, inquisitive, willing to consider views with which they disagree without falling into relativism or skepticism, etc.).
   Are U's evaluation procedures racist?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few points:

1. Which is likelier to be judged fairly: intelligence or intellectual virtue? If there is concern about bias in student selection, we need to choose criteria that allow us to minimize it, while still properly selecting quality candidates. Intelligence is a better dimension to prioritize in that case.

2. It's not exactly a secret that Ivy League schools engage in holistic admissions, that they value intellectual independence and non-academic interests and somewhat scoff at SAT scores. It's also not a secret that many Asians optimize their applications vigorously, so I find it very hard they aren't doing a good job of at least presenting those things to admissions committees. So, if they are rejecting candidates on those grounds, do they actually have evidence it's true? I doubt it.

3. I think a lot of the underperformance in Asian representation in elite schools is attempting to correct for their extreme college prep work. But why then are high socioeconomic status individuals so overrepresented generally? I doubt they prep any less than Asians do as a group. So there probably is an inconsistency, with an eye to accepting future major donors.

4. Asian under-representation is not an issue in Master's programs where they pay steep tuition fees, keeping a lot of departments going. This is the case even when English skills and social skills should actually disqualify the candidate.

5. Why are we disincentivizing intelligence and college prep in admissions in the first place??? I mean, we all know, but the reality of it is unpleasant.

9:14 PM  

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