Mismatch: Richard Sander v. The University of California

Just when you thought it was safe to venture into the woods of higher eduction news (or, for that matter, any news) without stumbling over yet another analysis of Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, now there’s another affirmative action lawsuit that may well become another blockbuster.

UCLA law professor Richard Sander, co-author with Stuart Taylor, Jr., of the magisterial Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It, is suing the University of California to release data (with names omitted) on students admitted since 2007. It had released the sort of data Sander is seeking for the years 1992 – 2006, but it has refused — in violation of the California Open Records Act, according to Sander — for the years after 2007.

Sander suspects that the University system surreptitiously began considering racial and ethnic data, in violation of Prop. 209. In an interview with the New York Times,

Professor Sander said he also believed that researchers and universities were too focused on admissions data when analyzing campus diversity. They should also be looking at outcomes data, he said, which includes majors, grades, how long it took students to graduate, whether they went to graduate or professional school and even their earnings after graduation.

That is the type of data Professor Sander is seeking in his lawsuit. He said he had received several years’ worth of similar data from the University of California in 2008, and found that even though the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to Berkeley and U.C.L.A. fell after the affirmative action ban the drop was more than offset by increases in enrollment at other campuses and increases in graduation rates.

A spokesperson for the University told the Chronicle of Higher Education that “Sander has asked us to prepare for him a specific data set that we do not have, and, apparently, he is suing to compel us to do so.” Under the California Public Records Act, we are not legally obligated to do so.”

Query: If the University of California does not collect the sort of data Prof. Sander seeks, how does it know it is not discriminating?


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