“Diversity” Money — Well Spent?

In 2007 the University of Iowa increased its budget for the “administrative costs for affirmative action, diversity and multicultural programs” by 25%. “UI expects to spend $738,718 in FY 2007 compared to $589,018 in FY 2006.”

And what did all those “affirmative action, diversity and multicultural programs” achieve?

Non-minority students graduated at a 67 percent rate compared with a 57 percent rate for minority students, according to six-year-graduation rates from 2001 to 2007.

But let’s not harp on the half of the glass that’s empty. I’m sure that the 43% who left school without graduating took great pride and satisfaction, while they were still at Iowa, in providing “diversity” to the white and Asian students.

Say What? (4)

  1. Andrew February 2, 2008 at 1:03 am | | Reply

    The “costs” is misleading when applied to the money spent on affirmative action. Wheras here only the money directly spent on affirmative action is considered, the cost of affirmative action also has to include the direct and indirect damages done by affirmative action and is therefore considerably higher.

    Just how hillarious it is to say that the money spent on creating the damage is equivilant to the cost would be to say that the price of bullets is the cost of war…

  2. superdestroyer February 2, 2008 at 6:53 am | | Reply

    Since the minority students were probably admitted with lower GPA, lower high school performance, and lower SAT/ACT scores, doesn’t this demonstrate that academic performance in high school is a good indication of college performance.

    I wonder if you correct for SAT/ACT scores if the difference in graduation rate would still be there.

    I also wonder if there is a significant difference in college major between white /asian and the minority students at Iowa. I suspect that there is.

  3. Kip Watson February 3, 2008 at 9:40 pm | | Reply

    Look, there are many reasons to oppose Affirmative Action, but this isn’t one of them.

    A 57 to 67 % difference is actually relatively small. I thought it would be much greater, perhaps Affirmative Action is justified after all…?

  4. willowglen February 4, 2008 at 11:45 am | | Reply

    The real costs behind affirmative action are the so-called “hidden costs”. While unfair in practice, I have never believed that the worst or even significant problem of affirmative action is that of preferring a less qualified person over a more qualified one. No, the biggest problem, and hence the biggest costs, are what affirmative action does to an institution otherwise steadfast in its pursuit of competence and excellence. My own experience at a top tier graduate school echoes that of Richard Sander’s research. The bottom 10% of the class was almost entirely filled with those admitted under affirmative action – with considerably lesser qualifications – and while there are exceptions to the rule in terms of test scores and grades, they typically do what they are supposed to do – reasonably predict success of matriculants. It was painful and demoralizing to observe – the skill and background education level just wasn’t there – especially in competition with the generally voracious intellectual wolves that populated the remainder of the class – and it changed the nature of classroom instruction – dumbing it down, so to speak, something that even the most liberal of professors would admit in private but never in public. Not surprisingly, by and large these students sat together – in class – elsewhere – you name it. And I think it had little to do with racial identity or solidarity – they were frankly intimidated by their lack of preparatory skill – and were in over their heads. So we ended up with a bunch of really nice and interesting people self-segregating themselves because of the terrific academic challenge they were experiencing – one that was not going to get any better. And this is the promise of integration? Yeesh. This is of course the dirty little secret that no likes to talk openly about. The school also had separate sessions to enhance the prospects of these students – which of course some non-minority students griped about – but I felt badly about the plight of such students in these sessions and thought it small minded to complain – the blunt truth is that most of these students were not going to be able to remediate 16 years of educational deficiencies with any amount of separate, or special sessions, or any other special help. It was no place for any form of remedial education, except, of course, when the school pretended it could be in support of its affirmative action program- all in the name of assuaging their collective guilt. So there is little doubt the costs to the institution, and of course, those like them, as regards affirmative action were and remain significant – it changes the nature of these institutions, suspending in a otherworldy way their commitment to a meritocracy in their general operations. Are the costs worth it? Of course affirmative action supporters claim they are given this country’s history. But a concerted look at the costs is not easy – one only need observe the resistance to Sander’s research. And the programs maddeningly further a form of segregation. And this is of course the rub – what can we do when the problem moves from that of racial discrimination – yes, it still occurs, but much less so – to that of an acheivement gap? One can argue that the gap has discriminatory origins, and of course there is truth to that, but decades of data with affirmative action doesn’t seem to support the notion that it helps the close the gap.

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