Affirmative Action Comes Home to Roost

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There are some people — a lot of them, in fact — who simply can’t abide the truth:

Professors at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. are being denounced as white supremacists after private messages were leaked in which they claim affirmative action sets up students for academic failure at the school.

The controversy in question concerns two letters sent by faculty in Smith’s School for Social Work to school administrators….

The first letter, sent by professor Dennis Miehls, warns that the school was failing in its “gatekeeper” function by admitting too many academically unprepared applicants….

A separate letter, signed only “Concerned Adjuncts,” isn’t as explicit about race, but voices similar concerns that lowered standards for certain groups were setting them up for failure.

“There is clearly something terribly faulty with the admission policy when scores of students develop, from the very start, serious problems in both their academic performance and their field experience,” the letter said. “What many people are thinking but afraid to say is that when students are admitted who do not have the academic qualifications to do well enough in a rigorous, demanding, stressful program … these students are being set up for failure….

The claims in the letters reflect prior research that suggests affirmative action may hurt beneficiaries by sending them to schools they are underqualified for, where they are then outclassed by other students.

Both letters appear to have been well-intentioned, but since being leaked, they have caused a firestorm at Smith. The unknown person who leaked them said the letters demonstrated the existence of “white supremacist systems” at the school.

Hundreds of students held a public protest Tuesday, denouncing the alleged racism within the School for Social Work.

“We bear witness to the violence of racialized, differential treatment of students of color,” student Katherine Roubos said at the protest, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Ironically, though, the protesters seem to share many facts with the complaining letters. Christopher Watkins, a protest leader, complained that a “disproportionate amount” of black and Hispanic students at the school have been placed under academic review, which seems to reflect the situation the letters complained about. The protesting students, though, believe their poorer performance reflects systemic racism in the school, rather than lower overall readiness.

Which doesn’t compute. It’s a reasonable surmise that the faculty of Smith College, like that of most colleges (especially the elite ones of the Northeast), is dominated by leftists. And we know that leftists, by self-definition, are anti-racists in the nth degree. So, either Smith’s faculty is riddled with crypto-racist hypocrites (not a remote possibility) or Smith (like almost all colleges in the U.S.) eagerly admits unqualified students in the name of “diversity,” etc., etc., etc.

But the victims of affirmative action — the unqualified students — don’t want to hear that. So their plight is the result of racism. What else is new?

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Related posts:
Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
“Conversing” about Race
Evolution and Race
“Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
Let’s Have That “Conversation” about Race

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