Wednesday, April 11, 2012

is MIT heading in the wrong direction with affirmative action?

The Tech | A key question brought up at the recent MIT Diversity Summit, and the MLK Jr. annual breakfast, was how can MIT balance excellence with diversity? It has been commonly noted that students and faculty alike perceive tension within the Institute between the frequent appeals for increased diversity, and the culture of hard work and meritocracy that make MIT what it is. This question received heavy emphasis in the 2010 Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity. One of the final statements of that report was that, “While almost everyone at MIT would like the Institute to be an institution of merit and inclusion, it will be difficult to reach this ideal if race and ethnicity are ignored and presumed irrelevant.”

For the good of the Institute, I feel compelled to rephrase this — while almost everyone at MIT would like the Institute to be an institution of merit and inclusion, it will be difficult to reach this ideal if race, ethnicity, and gender continue to play such a big role in the social engineering agenda of the administration of MIT.

This agenda actively pursued across the Institute — the goals of which are to dramatically increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the student and faculty body at MIT, and thereby to attempt to increase nationwide participation by the same in STEM fields — is well-intentioned, but eroding not only the meritocracy at MIT, but the quality of experience that these same females, minority students, and faculty experience here.

To anyone who claims that MIT’s affirmative action policies only focus on outreach recruiting but do not provide preference in admissions, faculty hiring, or positions, and therefore do not discriminate, then please explain the following: last spring, a gloating announcement was made by the interim dean of the School of Engineering stating that, for the first time ever, more women than men were hired for faculty positions that year. Compare this with the fact that in 2011 women comprised only 26 percent of the graduate student body in the MIT School of Engineering, and only 11 percent of career engineers nationally. Unless we conclude that the female student and postdoc engineering population is vastly more qualified then their male peers, which we have no reason to believe, then clearly there is more going on at MIT than just “attracting” more female faculty. The same can be said for racial and ethnic considerations.

There is more concrete evidence of the way in which affirmative action at MIT really works. At the MLK Jr. breakfast this year, President Hockfield stated, “We need to engineer a set of underlying institutional mechanisms, expectations, habits, and rhythms that make diversity and inclusion simply part of what we work on here, every day.” She then went further to point out that, as reported by MIT News, the School of Science is identifying new funds to expand its pool of URM faculty. Wait a second — last time I checked, reserving job positions for certain racial groups is blatantly against federal law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race in any aspect of employment including: hiring and firing, recruitment, and training and apprenticeship programs. Can you imagine the outrage if President Hockfield stated that the School of Science was raising funding specifically for hiring more white faculty?

MIT claims to be a fair, equitable, inclusive, and merit-based institution. Yet, when the powers that be at this institute essentially declare that, “We are doing everything we can to admit, hire, and promote more women and underrepresented minorities, necessarily at the expense of white and Asian men” — and we compare this to the definition of discrimination: “Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of, a person based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs rather than on individual merit,” then how is MIT not being discriminatory and hypocritical?

20 comments:

umbrarchist said...

I applied there just to see what would happen.  I got an interview and this White man spent 20 minutes telling me what kind of boys get into MIT.  Sons of doctors.  Sons of lawyers, etc. etc.

Now how do we expose kids ts scientific ideas and thinking when they are still in grade school.

Omnilingual  by H. Beam Piper
http://librivox.org/omnilingual-by-h-beam-piper/
http://www.feedbooks.com/book/308/omnilingual

All Day September  by Roger Kuykendall
http://www.feedbooks.com/book/2295/all-day-september

The Fourth R  by George O. Smith
http://www.onread.com/book/The-Fourth-R-17950/

Why should we let schools tell us what to do wth cheap computers?

CNu said...

I applied there and got in because it's MUCH easier to be in the top 1% scholastically test wise and grade wise in the state of Kansas than it is in the city of Chicago.  (I did have stellar SAT scores and was a National Merit Scholarship winner), but fundamentally had no concept of smart until I encountered nerds from the big cities.

That small cadre you see pictured above was probably about 80% of the minority admissions to MIT in 2011 - and that's been about the size of it since the late 1970's...,

Dale Asberry said...

Don't sell yourself short. You're the smartest person I've met in 20 years. And a similarly smart crew hanging around here...

CNu said...

The clique bad-an-a-muhphu...,. As for me, I'm attentive, I have an unusually strong memory, and I've been exceptionally fortunate to have had wide ranging access and exposure - and in consequence of this - interests and reliable discrimination.

Deep smarts reside in the likes of my man who designed and prototyped the failsafes for H-Bombs and whose free-hand drafting is to actual, usable scale - a savant - if you will.  But even deep smarts doesn't hold a candle to those eligible for secrecy - I've been thinking a lot about that lately - wondering what comprised a "God" during the 3rd or 4th millenium BC?

What comprises a "God" now? http://youtu.be/THE_hhk1Gzc  This?

Or is it something more like this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mute_%28The_Twilight_Zone%29

Neither variant would willingly reveal itself...,

Big Don said...

Excuse BD for interjecting some bubble-popping Real_Data from elite schools (see image below)...

These schools fight over the cream of the Black crop to hype their diversity image, only the best of the Black academic best get admitted.  OTOH, White admissions don't get the absolute academic best as they are heavily salted with legacy students whose generations of successful parents/ancestors are alums who have donated big bux, libraries, endowed chairs, etc. The admission standards for them are relaxed - word on the street it's about a third of the Whites get this break.  Otherwise Blacks would look even worse by comparison. 

It is readily visible in the data that Asians have to meet *higher* standards than other applicants.  These elite schools don't want to end up looking like ucRa or cal berkRey, i.e., ~50% Asian... 

While these data are 20 years old, however don't think Asians have gotten any dumber, or Blacks smarter in the meantime.  The data were provided to the study by the schools themselves on request.  That's why there's nothing shown for Yale, those folks refused to rat out their own standards sacrifice for affirmative action... 

CNu said...

lol, where exactly is the bubble-popping Mr. Bubblehead?

First off, any word that YOU might pick up "on the street" is sketchy and played out as hell, because by "street" you mean pinheaded and discredited online racist sewer.

Second, nowadays, properly resourced college preparatory schools use an admissions CRM called Naviance that plots everything out for you based on quantitative measures of your performance in highschool, and basically predicts with a high degree of certainty where you can and cannot get in - inclusive of what your parents can afford to pay for.

So..., while it's clear from the thinning to non-existent ranks of Americans period in STEM undergrad and grad programs that Americans in general are getting dumber by the minute - you would be well served to simply and carefully read what was written in both the pro and con articles published in the Tech.  That's why I specifically put them up there for your personal edification as "Big Don Specials".

p.s., my baby has already visited one of those selective schools to which she's been admitted, and today and tomorrow she's visiting another. Next week, she'll be visiting yet another one, and very soon, she'll have to make a decision. By no stretch of the imagination was she an "affirmative action" admit, unless you have an Asian or a white student you'd care to post up who has completed all the AP math available with an A average, 780 Math, intending to major in Math. Scholastic National Gold medalist in the arts, drawring/painting/sculpture, 6ft tall Amazon-beauty-queen-ready-for-the-cover-of-a-magazine-captain-of-her-highschool-volleyball-team-and-still-only-seventeen (oh, eligible for athletic scholarships at Division I schools) 

I wish a muhphukka would try to show me a specimen even remotely approaching what I've cultivated these last 18 years under my roof!!!! (see, I didn't even have to go hard and try and pretend it's a purely genetic anomaly knowing full well the extent of the investment my wife and I have made in bringing her to this level of realized potential)

Dale Asberry said...

Lol, I picked that movie up and watched it about a month ago. Saw the Twilight episode around the same time! Couldn't sleep so watched Syfy or something.  I would say the movie is representative of "God" - it's through opening up and discovery leading to understanding and strength. The Mute is about deprivation, confusion, fear and necessary protection/weakness.

Neither variant would willingly reveal itself...,
The first one might but the second one is crippled. They would learn quickly that hiding is not the best answer, sometimes intimidation goes a long way...

CNu said...

Imagine the second one as belonging to a looooooong line of carefully developed faculties from which "witches" as a familiar but misunderstood example, comprise a degenerate branch or offshoot.

Big Don said...

Okay.  At Harvard. it's a third of the legacies that apply who are admitted which is only 12-13% of the entering class counting non-legacies.
At least according to this--->  http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/5/11/admissions-fitzsimmons-legacy-legacies/

Tom said...

So we get a slug of affirmative action for the George Bush/John Kerry dumbshit D-minus legacy types, descendants of the  people who rule this country, and another, smaller, slug of affirmative action for the descendants of the people who were kidnapped to build the country.   Some from both groups are extremely competent; some from both groups are probably underqualified a la Bush/Kerry.
The question is, in this imperfect world, what is so far off about this compromise?

You seriously arguing that Bush and Kerry's slots at Yale were well utilized?  Settle down into the real world or accept that nobody outside your little online echo chambers is going to listen to anything you say.

Tom said...

Also in what I'll loosely term the "real world," I spent a lot of time tutoring undergrads at an elite school,  at least 40 different kids I'd guess, over a number of years.  And I really didn't see much in the stereotypes there.   Without trying I can think of a dumb-acting Asian guy twisting around trying to tear the label out of his T-shirt instead of listening to me; a young white woman so out of her depth in EE that when someone who looked vaguely like her jumped off a building a month later I assumed it was her; a young Black freshman from the West Indies who was already getting straight As but not "understanding enough" from her classes.  
(A common complaint!  The place was such a firehose that I'm confident 75% of the kids were hoping to "understand" at some future date, maybe on the job.)   (She went into EE.  So we got a good one there.  And smd BD.)  

I certainly tutored people who I think should have been somewhere easier.  (I was a grad student, and I know I was lucky to be somewhere less firehos-y as an undergrad.)  But the easy  answer that they were somehow color-coded just didn't pan out.  It could be, you understand, but it turned out not to be the case.  You had to get to know each kid, and go over technical problems with them.  

A point many hiring managers miss too.  You have to do technical interviews.  And you have to include whatever "diversity" stuff is appropriate from the beginning of the process, so you get technical interviews on as broad a group of candidates as you can manage.  And you have to ruthlessly keep the dummies and lunatics out.  

AND you can NOT wait until all slots but one are filled with white male friend-of-friend-of-friends, and then shove in some Black guy after a stupid kid-glove low-expectation interview. You do that, you get problems .... or should I say you confirm what you want to believe?

Temple3 said...

I enjoyed that movie. 

Big Don said...

How about the quality of the folks filling staff slots at the White House...??  ROTFLMwAO.
When you are in charge, you get to make your own choices...

Temple3 said...

Well said, Papa Nu.

Big Don said...

A few anecdotal observations don't invalidate the averages of a few million data points....

Tom said...

No, 40 kids isn't "a few anectodal observations."    And I'm not clear on where you could possibly have gotten "a few million data points" on minority kids at elite schools.  There haven't been that many altogether.

I wonder, BD, and this isn't directed only at you, but what is it on the internet that makes people think they can misrepresent something just one or two comments upthread and get away with it?

Gee Cee Vee said...

i thought i was suppose to first hear about this at subrealism. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOLOLrUBRBY

uglyblackjohn said...

Today, in much of America, many poor people no longer know that they are poor so most see no reason to innovate.

CNu said...

lol, you know "feel good" ain't in the CNu vocabulary...,

What is there to say? Smart seeks smart, makes smart.


This is a sweet, handsome, clever boy, in whom vast parental investment is wholly obvious - I see nothing but goodness here and no hint of affirmative action on his behalf. The brother-patron in the media lab is hooking up one of his own, one who could do nothing but bring pride and protective investment from the broader community outside his family. Sierra Leone will be a MAJOR point of presence for anglo-american recolonization of one of the two last, great, remaining terrestrial frontiers. (Africa and the Arctic) This boy has the potential to become an ambassador for further extending that deep cultural interpenetration of the anglosphere into the afrosphere - now encompassing technocratic realms of interpenetration. He's ready Teddy, ready and clearly able.


Two questions go begging here;
1. What took them so long, i.e., the deeper engagement with the critical colonial boundary states?
2. What does it mean, if anything, for the profoundly alienated, dysfunctional, and failing communities right here in the homeland where parental investment of the kind on display here is a rarity?

CNu said...

Make it plain uncle John, many of the triflings you routinely lampoon don't make basic parental investments in their offspring, don't know how to make such investments, and are agnosognosic when it comes to the core personal, interpersonal values required to thrive in the heart of Babylon. What to do about the burgeoning mass of no jobs, no education, no prospects contingent?