As new figures from the Census tell us, the United States is becoming an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse nation -- with a population that doesn't fit neatly into the racial boxes constructed for "diversity" purposes. So why is it that some universities and other institutions continue to use the old paradigm of granting preferences to members of groups that are deemed "underrepresented"?
The Center for Equal Opportunity, which I founded in 1995, has been documenting the use of racial and ethnic preferences in college and professional school admissions for more than a dozen years. Sad to say, too little has changed in this period. Except in a handful of states that have banned the use of race or ethnicity in state employment, contracting, and education -- California and Michigan, most prominently -- many public colleges and universities still give preference in admissions to blacks and Hispanics.
This week, we released a comprehensive study of the admissions at two public universities in Ohio -- Ohio State and Miami (available online at ceousa.org). Both schools admitted less-qualified black, and to a lesser extent Hispanic, students over better-qualified whites. In fact, Ohio State University is the largest school in the country that still employs preferential admissions policies, since preferences have been abolished at larger schools in Florida and Arizona.
Our study looked at actual test scores and high school grade data for student applicants. What we found was that between 2005 and 2007, the odds ratio favoring African-American over white students with the same test scores and grades was 10-to-1 if the ACT was used or 8-to-1 if students took the SAT at Miami University. Ohio State had somewhat smaller preferences for black over white students with the same grades and test scores, 8-to-1 for ACT takers and 3-to-1 for those taking the SAT.
The differences between Hispanic and white test scores were generally smaller, but still statistically significant. At both schools, we controlled for gender, residency, and year of admission in conducting our analysis.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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