Affirmative Action at Georgetown (5/5)

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"Georgetown University provides educational opportunities without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of, age, color, disability, family responsibilities, familial status, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, personal appearance, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran’s status or any other factor prohibited by law in its educational programs and activities."
 Georgetown University Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination in Education
 

 
“We believe strongly that universities should be allowed to continue to consider race and ethnicity among other factors in our admissions processes . . . We have a policy that is committed to affirmative action. That is the university’s explicit position. "
Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia
 

 

All this week we've looked at affirmative action.  We began by talking about a true American hero, the great Martin Luther King Jr., and his dream of a color-blind society in which we're judged on the content of our character as opposed to the color of our skin.  

In the course of our discussion we've made it a point to not focus on the inherent unfairness and discrimination involved in affirmative action, but on the negative effects for purported beneficiaries, from the problem of mismatch which leads to lower grades and disillusionment, to the issue of decreased post-graduation income and less prestigious jobs, before addressing the great lengths universities like Georgetown will go to keep affirmative action statistics hidden from the public and the punishments they attempt to inflict on those willing to expose admissions data to outside scrutiny.  In doing so we've taken an empirical, evidence-based approach, because we believe discussions should be based upon the data and not magical thinking.

Today we look specifically at affirmative action and diversity programs and polices at Georgetown.  They begin in the University's Office of Institutional  Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA).

The main goal of IDEAA is to promote their view of "diversity," which doesn't involve intellectual or viewpoint diversity, but instead focuses on race and ethnicity, primarily by increasing the numbers of minorities on campus, specifically blacks and Latinos/Hispanics. One might say other minority groups exist besides these two, and one would certainly be right, but as is evident from the various statements from IDEAA-led working groups and administrators that are part of the public record, the attention is almost exclusively on recruiting these two groups to the faculty and increasing their numbers within the studentry. This is done by requiring faculty search committees to coordinate with IDEAA when recruiting new professors, extra efforts to convince members of these groups to apply to Georgetown, and of course, race-based preferential treatment in hiring and admissions. 

Another one of IDEAA's main missions is to foster and develop programs and policies on diversity that will lead to converting as many people as possible into accepting the notion that if there is not an exact match between the percentage of a specific racial and ethnic group in the general U.S. population and their presence at Georgetown, then some form of discrimination and/or institutional racism exists.

Image Taken From The Georgetown voice

Image Taken From The Georgetown voice

These efforts ignore disparate percentages when it comes to viewpoint, geographic location, religious background, or other life experiences while overlooking the underrepresented subgroups found within various racial and ethnic populations.  Most especially they ignore socioeconomic status, which as shown in a 2012 report by The Century Foundation, is a far greater obstacle to opportunity than race when it comes to college admissions and social mobility.

Along with certain fellow travelers in the faculty and administrators in the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access, IDEAA was also behind getting the left-wing "diversity" requirement foisted upon the studentry last year, though of course The Hoya played an important role by only printing positive articles and op-eds and refusing to quote or publish anyone opposed to the idea.  The diversity requirement will force all new students to take two politicized courses most neither need nor want, and which will cost more than $15,000 dollars in tuition, not inclusive of the time spent attending and studying for the course, the opportunities individuals will forego by being forced to do so, and the number of hours they'll need to spend coming up with the money necessary to fund this part their Georgetown education.

One final purpose of IDEAA is protecting the university administration from charges of racism or discrimination.  In today's world a great deal of profit can be made by tossing out such accusations or threateningly holding them over the heads of individuals and institutions in an effort to extract concessions.  Whether true or not, allegations of bias and discrimination simply by being spoken can be quite damaging to one's reputation and financial bottom line.  This is perhaps one reason they're used so frequently.  Having an office which provides cover and allows for virtue-signaling on the part of well-meaning but ultimately misguided administrators is valuable from an institutional perspective.   

At TGA we've spoken previously about diversity in posts last semester (here, here, and here).   Our section on diversity in our Arguments & Ideas page further examines the matter.  Below we lay out further some more of our views.

We believe having a diverse student body is important.  We think, however, that diversity includes more than just one's skin color, gender, or sexual preferences.  Socioeconomic status also counts.  We think too that at an institution whose primary purpose is academic excellence via the pursuit of truth and the attainment of knowledge, that diversity of ideas is what matters most.  We find it hypocritical that Georgetown's administration and faculty regularly calls for diversity of identity, but has yet to comment on or address the philosophical and ideological imbalances found among University administrators and faculty members.  We also think it is disingenuous and inappropriate for the University to say it doesn't discriminate based on race when it does in fact discriminate based on race through affirmative action programs.

We think that when it comes to hiring faculty only the most qualified should be chosen. Considering the quarter million dollar cost of a Georgetown education, it should go without saying that students deserve the best professors available, regardless of skin color.  If a student, whether white, black, or any other color, claims that he or she is unable to learn from a professor based on that faculty member's skin color, then the problem is not with the professor or the University, but with the small-mindedness of the student, and he or she should quickly have their mind expanded or be encouraged to consider withdrawing as the individual's bigotry indicates he or she is clearly not yet ready to be at Georgetown.  

When it comes to admitting students we think the University needs to make a choice: does it want the very best students the nation produces, or does it have a social mission which requires the University to not admit those with the top grades and test scores but also include those who are less academically qualified in order for Georgetown to better reflect American demographics.  If it is the latter, then that's fine.  After all, Georgetown is a private, Catholic university with a religious, educational, and social mission.  It can do what it wants.

But the University needs to be honest about what it is doing and ensure it looks beyond the narrow confines of race and ethnicity when deciding who is going to receive preferential treatment under affirmative action policies.  Research has shown that class, and not race, is the main driver determining one's social mobility and opportunities in life, and so the University should look to bringing in low-income and working class students of all races. Even President Obama acknowledges class-blind racial preferences are inappropriate and the sons and daughters of affluent members of minority groups do not deserve preferential treatment over poor and disadvantaged members of others groups.

Georgetown should also be upfront with affirmative action beneficiaries regarding the problems associated with being accepted into a cohort in which their academic qualifications put them near the bottom.  And we're not just talking about race-based affirmative action beneficiaries here, but also legacies, athletes, and others who got in without having high grades or test scores.  

This means acknowledging the rigors and increased stress associated with academic life at an elite university with a "busy culture" and above average academic standards versus another institution in which one's qualifications are more aligned with one's peer group, and providing statistics regarding the probability those brought in under affirmative action will change to less intensive majors, experience lower grades, or fail to graduate.  It is not enough to simply provide special programs and hope the negative externalities of affirmative action don't surface. The University must be honest with all those it admits.

This week we've brought up some challenging ideas related to affirmative action and presented some hard questions for the Georgetown community.  In doing so we've followed the advice of our critics who've complained that we too often fail to be sober and dispassionate.  We've done so in the hopes of stimulating discussion and effecting real and positive change on the Hilltop.

Those interested in submitting rebuttals are welcome to do so and we'll publish them next week.  Also, feel free to speak out in the comments section below.

If you've enjoyed our series on affirmative action and would like to be part of TGA, then please get in contact with us.  We would love to hear your feedback for future articles. 

Hoya Saxa!