G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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At The Atlantic Derek Thompson writes on racial diversity at the nation’s elite private and public universities:
There are any number of conclusions various people could draw from the data — the under-representation of blacks is, of course, striking; some might say the flattening out of Asians at elite private schools suggests an unofficial quota system — but I’ll let the graphs speak for themselves. This post isn’t meant to be a polemic, but rather a starting point, a primary source.
That’s a citation of Ron Unz’s work on the topic. But Thompson doesn’t advance the discussion. He only compares the demographic representation of each race group to their representation in different universities in a few graphs like this one:
Unz’s argument was that even though the relative percentage of college-age Asians has doubled in this country over the past 20 years, their representation at America’s elite universities has remained constant. From the early 1990s to the present, Unz points out, Asian representation at Harvard has fallen from about 20% to about 16%. At universities like Cal Tech, which has a race-blind admissions process, Asian representation has kept pace with the overall population representation of Asians among college age youth. He wrote:
This decline might seem small. But these same years brought a huge increase in America’s college-age Asian population, which roughly doubled between 1992 and 2011, while non-Hispanic white numbers remained almost unchanged. Thus, according to official statistics, the percentage of Asian-Americans enrolled at Harvard fell by more than 50 percent over the last two decades, while the percentage of whites changed little. This decline in relative Asian-American enrollment was actually larger than the impact of Harvard’s 1925 Jewish quota, which reduced Jewish freshmen from 27.6 percent to 15 percent.
This is just to say that Thompson’s starting point is quite a bit behind Unz’s. And I have to admit, given The Atlantic’s tone of late, that I don’t have a lot of faith that anyone there really wants to understand the issue. Instead I think they want to figure out why blacks are so “underrepresented”. For whatever it’s worth, you can see that sentiment in the few comments left so far at Thompson’s blog post. Low black income is “endemic” and “privilege” explains why so few blacks graduate high school and then attend college (but Ivies too?). Amazing though that Jewish and Asian immigrants have done so relatively well.