Thursday, February 02, 2006

More poor journalism from the Denver Post

The D-Post ran an article about how the new chancellor at CU wants to increase the ethnic minority population on campus. The problem with the story is that the only statement hinting at a problem isn't backed up by any useful facts. Here is what we get:
In 2004, for instance, there were at least 289 African-American students applying to colleges in Colorado who met CU's minimum admissions requirements, according to university figures. Of those, 120 applied to CU, and 111 were admitted.

But only 41 enrolled.

This tells me NOTHING USEFUL to make the case that there is a problem. Mind you, there may be a real problem. This just doesn't make that case nor does anything else in the story. The above needs to come with MORE DATA. What percentage of whites who met base qualifications were admitted? What percentage of them enrolled? How about Asians/Hispanics? What happened to the black students who were admitted but didn't enroll? Did they go to Harvard or Stanford? Did they get in to the Air Force Academy? Did they decide to save money and go to a community college for the first year or two to knock out those challenging courses like English Lit on the cheap? Did they get tossed in jail for driving while black?

What we do get is this:

Of the African-American students in 2004 who were admitted to CU but didn't enroll, Jimenez said: "They chose to go to other colleges for a reason. Not all of those reasons may be race-based or racism-based, but that's something we haven't looked at - why they aren't going here."

OK, so the university realizes that they need to look at this very relevant piece of data. Good for them. The reporter should have been smart enough to at least ask for comparative data with whites and other ethnic minorities for comparison. That data isn't, in and of itself, dispositive, but it would be a good hint as to the possibility of a significant problem.

I applied to 5 or 6 universities as a high school senior. I was accepted to all of them. If your university has relatively high standards the majority of people who meet your minimum qualifications are going to be accepted to multiple schools. That is a good thing, not a bad thing, IMHO.

It seems to me that the first thing CU needs to do is get in touch with as many of the 70 kids who were accepted but didn't enroll and find out why they didn't enroll. If most of them tell you they went to some other school because CU was a backup plan but they didn't want to go to such a racist institution unless they had no choice.... then, and only then, you have a good reason to institute a touchy-feely class for incoming freshmen (sorry newperchilds). If they say, "Dude, I got a full ride to Princeton, what would you do" then you should look at your academic standards (i.e. the quality or lack thereof of your professors) and leave the students alone.

My suspicion is that this is a combination of getting in to better schools for their intended major, economics (Community Colleges), and randomness. Boulder and CU have many problems but racism doesn't seem to me to be one of them. The university and the town in general rank way up there in the liberal spots in the country. Liberals have many faults but overt racism isn't generally one of them. Forced touchy-feely classes is one of them and I feel sorry for the engineering students who will have to endure this for potentially no good reason. Been there, done that.


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