I was struck by this passage from a John McWhorter op-ed on the recently passed anti-affirmative action amendment to Michigan’s state constitution.

As for “resegregation,” how about this: The year before preferences were banned at the University of California, exactly one black freshman made honors at the University of California San Diego. But in 1999 after the ban, 20% of the honors freshmen at San Diego were black. The reason was that black students who formerly were admitted to the flagship schools — UC Berkeley and UCLA — under the bar, now placed into fine second-tier schools like UC San Diego. This is not resegregation but reshuffling, and those who fail to see progress in it are saying no as a gesture, not out of sincere concern.

“To say yes, you have to sweat, roll up your sleeves, seize life with both hands and plunge into it up to the elbows,” Creon implores Antigone. “You grab the wheel, you right the ship in the face of a mountain of water.”

Does anyone know what the breakdown by race is of, say, the Phi Beta Kappas at Williams? (The top 12.5% by GPA at Williams are selected PBK, 5% after the end of the junior year and the rest at the end of senior year.) We have used this data before to infer (correctly!) that there is a quota for international students but I don’t think that this data is broken down by race anywhere. What is your guess as to what the data would show?

My bet would be that, although African-Americans make up 9% or so of the student body, they would be a much smaller percentage of PBKs. This might be wrong, but until the Record does some investigative journalism, we won’t know the data since the College will never (?) release it. Assume for a second that I am correct and that only, say, 3% of PBKs are African-American. What would you conclude? Your options include:

1) Williams professors are racist and give lower grades for the same work to African-American students.

2) The Williams community, as a whole, is so unsupportive of, even hostile to, African-American students that they do less well then they would do in a better environment.

3) African-Americant students take more lower-grading courses/majors so their lower GPA is not indicative of worse performance.

4) Almost any African-American applicant with Williams caliber credentials is accepted by H/Y/P/S and chooses to go elsewhere. The African-American students at Williams average an Academic Rank of, say, 4. Such students, of whatever race, have only 1/3 the chance of ending up PBK as other Williams students, on average. So, adjusting for high school grades/scores, the percentage of African-American students in PBK is what you would expect.

5) Although the Williams environment is supportive, African-American students choose, on average, to spend more time on outside activities than other students. Their grades suffer, but only because of their own priorities.

I find 1) to be inconceivable and 3) highly unlikely. I don’t want to believe 3) and did not see much evidence of 5) in the data produced by the Diversity Initiatives. 4) is most likely.

Print  •  Email