UCLA Professor Explains How Affirmative Action Hurts Minority Students at Universities

Instituting polices whose goal is to help level the playing field for minorities may, on the surface, seem like a noble and worthy goal. Most people would agree that no segment of society should be marginalized and kept from pursuing their life goals. No one should be subjected to unjust discrimination and, accordingly, laws, policies, and various social initiatives should be enacted to ensure all minority groups are safeguarded from systemic biases (though there are arguments to be made from a laissez-faire perspective that contends that genuine racists would face boycotts and unrelenting ostracism from the public, thereby inducing them to abandon their racist tendencies, or risk personal and financial ruin).

Sometimes, however, when a policy is instituted to help people, it actually achieves the complete opposite of what it was intended to do.

Breitbart covers some of the critiques of affirmative action at universities put forth by UCLA professor Richard Sander, who co-authored a book titled How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It.

Data show that when students with lower academic qualifications than their peers are accepted into more challenging universities, they suffer academically as a result, Sander said Wednesday evening before an assembly of the Bruin Republicans at UCLA.

Affirmative action creates what Sander calls “mismatch,” whereby preferred students find themselves out of their league and underperform as a result.

Sander told the group that “students will learn less when they are surrounded by students who had scores 10 points higher than them than if they were surrounded by students who had similar scores.” In other words, less academically qualified students perform better when surrounded by students of their own caliber than when placed among students with superior abilities.

What Sander is presenting in his book is an inconvenient truth: intelligence matters – and students that are propelled into courses and fields that are too challenging for them intellectually, will fail.

To put it bluntly, universities are for people with above-average intelligence – and each one varies in terms of the level of academic performance required in order to successfully graduate.

Certain fields implicitly require an above-average IQ in order to do well. Hard work and persistence does not suffice if a task is too cognitively challenging for an individual. Someone who has an IQ of 85, for example, will struggle in an engineering program (irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender).

The SAT is, for all intents and purposes, is a variation of an IQ test; it’s used to give students an objective assessment of their knowledge and skills, in order to help them navigate their transition from high school to college. Colleges and universities use the results to help determine the likelihood of students’ success in a particular school and what they should major in.

However, when this intellectual segregation is circumvented by affirmative action polices, it can prove harmful to students who gain admission to schools and programs that are out of their league on an intellectual level.

Consciousness, a personality trait associated with being self-disciplined, hard-working, and organized, is also an important factor that predicts success in university. A student whose temperament predisposes him to putting in a lackluster effort in his field of study will fail (even a person with a high IQ needs to possess this trait to some degree in order to graduate and pursue a well-paying and rewarding career).

Intelligence (IQ) and consciousness are two of the major predictors of school and life success. The notion that students can simply succeed in school because they gained admission to fill some racial quota is, and has always been, a lie. And few have the courage to actually talk about it.

Thomas Sowell certainly was talking about it – back in 1983. Watch this clip.

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