Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.

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Color-Coded Meds

Professor Mark J. Perry has posted some important data that show graphically (in both senses of the word) the extent to which racial preferences are used in medical-school admissions. “Bottom Line: Medical school acceptance rates in recent years suggest that medical schools must have ‘affirmative discrimination’ and ‘racial profiling’ admission policies that favor black and Hispanic applicants over equally qualified Asian and white students.”

And, as is almost always the case with university admissions (see numerous studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity here— scroll down), race is weighed not lightly but heavily indeed:

For students applying to medical school with slightly below average GPAs of 3.20 to 3.39 and slightly below average MCAT scores of 24 to 26 . . . , black applicants were more than 9 times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians (56.4% vs. 5.9%), and more than 7 times more likely than whites (56.4% vs. 8.0%). . . . Compared to the average acceptance rate of 16.7% for all applicants with that combination of GPA and MCAT score, black and Hispanic applicants were much more likely to be accepted at rates of 56.4% and 30.5%, and white and Asian applicants were much less likely to be accepted to US medical schools at rates of only 5.9% and 8.0% respectively.

We find the same pattern of acceptance rates by ethnic/racial groups for applicants with slightly above average academic credentials. . . . For example, for applicants with MCAT scores of 30 to 32 (slightly above average) and GPAs between 3.40 to 3.59 (average) . . . , the acceptance rates for blacks (86.9%) and Hispanics (75.9%) were much higher than the acceptance rate for whites (48.0%) and Asians (40.3%) with those same academic credentials.

Professor Perry also notes, “Even if factors other than GPA and MCAT scores (which are probably the two most important ones) are considered for admission to medical school, wouldn’t it still be very hard to conclude that admissions policies to medical schools are completely ‘race-neutral’ and completely free of any ‘racial profiling’ practices that favor blacks and Hispanics over equally qualified Asians and whites?” Yes, professor, it would.

This discrimination is obviously a bad thing for the white and Asian students who were denied admission and now may not become doctors. It’s bad for patients who will not have doctors as good as they might have had otherwise. It’s bad for future medical research and teaching. And, because of the mismatch problem, it’s not even a good thing for many of the black and Latino students who do get admitted.

This unfair and pernicious discrimination should stop.

University of Texas Sued — Again:  Speaking of which, the University of Texas has been sued, again, for its racially discriminatory undergraduate-admissions policy. This time, the claim has been brought in state court, and the allegation is that the policy violates the state constitution’s ban on such discrimination. It’s asserted that the “diversity” exception that has been carved out of federal antidiscrimination law in student admissions doesn’t exist in Texas law.

The lawsuit has been brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) — a nonprofit membership organization made up of over 21,000 students, parents, and others. SFFA has members who were recently rejected from UT; its president is Edward Blum, who was the principal force behind Fisher v. University of Texas, which twice went to the U.S. Supreme Court. SFFA also has pending lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

This is great news, and kudos to Mr. Blum, his lawyers, and of course most of all to the SFFA. It’s important for universities that insist on engaging in this sort of discrimination to know that the political and legal pressure on them to stop will be unremitting and resourceful, and that message is being sent, loud and clear. As the press release notes: “According to a Gallup Poll conducted days after Fisher was decided last year, `seven in 10 Americans say merit should be the only basis for college admissions’ and ‘65% disagree with the Supreme Court decision allowing race to be a factor.’”

Race and IQ:  I very much enjoyed John McWhorter’s thoughtful essay on discussing race and IQ, and Robert VerBruggen’s thoughtful response to it, both on National Review Online, where I am a contributing editor.  As a mere lawyer, I have less expertise and narrower interests than either of them. Still, for what it’s worth, here’s what I wrote on the topic three years ago, in the context of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

[L]et me also say a word to those who ask: What if it turns out that there are genetic differences in cognitive abilities among different groups?
The issue whether there are racial differences in IQ is, it seems to me, of an intricacy disproportionate to its interest, at least for those of us who think that sound law and policy require judging people as individuals, without regard to race. In short, even if such genetic differences can be proven to exist, it would not provide a convincing rationale to refrain from re-instilling the sound law and policy of requiring citizens to be judged as individuals, without regard to race. Were science to somehow prove that the average white’s IQ is 12.03 higher than the average black’s, there will still be plenty of blacks smarter than plenty of whites, and plenty of mixed blacks/whites/others.

In the civil-rights context, the science here is important only to those on the far Right who would defend racial discrimination, and — especially — those on the far Left who insist that, since culture of course also cannot be blamed for racial disparities, they must all be a result of discrimination. The quota mongers have to deny unequal distributions of talent, interests, and ability, since their whole approach hinges on an assumption that proportionate representation is what a meritocratic system, sans discrimination, would produce. It is only to people who want to make racial generalizations and to people who believe that, absent discrimination, every university and workplace would “look like America” that race and IQ is of great importance.

I, on the other hand, am happy to be agnostic: Just choose the best qualified people, and don’t worry about getting your numbers right. For us colorblind conservatives, who think people should be treated as individuals regardless of race and who don’t think that racial disparity equals racial discrimination, the connection between race and IQ doesn’t matter. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, as originally written and understood, makes sense for a multiracial and multiethnic society, whether or not there are genetic differences among different groups.