Opinion guest column

Excellence has many dimensions

And MIT flourishes by including all of them

In the Feb. 17, 2012 issue of The Tech, Brandon Briscoe argues that MIT is “heading in the wrong direction with affirmative action”, and suggests that MIT uses quotas or preferences in its admissions and hiring practices. While we respect Brandon’s right to express his opinion and his courage in doing so, we fundamentally disagree with his premises and statements.

Although Brandon does not use the term quota, he implies that preferences are given to particular groups during admissions and hiring. He suggests that such preferences result in admitting less qualified women and under-represented minorities at the expense of more qualified candidates from well-represented groups.

This is simply not correct. For space reasons, we focus on undergraduate admissions, however, the same principles applies to faculty hiring. MIT does not use target quotas, nor aim for particular distributions of groups. While no admissions process is perfect, MIT works hard to admit an academically excellent, and intellectually, culturally diverse community of students whom they believe well match MIT‘s environment. And they work hard in the recruitment, selection, and yield phases to enroll a critical mass of different groups to ensure their success.

MIT is very fortunate to have an exceptionally deep pool of applicants. There are many more fully qualified applicants than there is space for them; we might easily admit twice as many — or more — students as we do currently and not see a decrease in quality.

With such a wealth of great applicants, we consider many factors in admissions decisions. While academic excellence is critical and required, it provides one element of selecting a class. Also important are leadership, innovation, contributions outside the classroom, match of personality with MIT’s atmosphere, and other factors. One can debate how to weigh these elements, and there is no absolute formula, but all admitted students bring other attributes in addition to academic excellence. Essential to creating a dynamic, vibrant campus is creating a diverse community — with different cultural and political perspectives, different experiences, different interests. Our community flourishes when musicians, athletes, humanists, technologists, entrepreneurs, hackers, philosophers, practitioners all interact together; often with individuals possessing elements of multiple perspectives coupled with intellectual depth, curiosity, analytic problem solving skills, and a strong work ethic. With such a deep and diverse pool of applicants from whom to select, our students have all of these qualities. A diverse community shares different modes of thought, perspectives, and insights, and it creates a richer environment for everyone. Different perspectives are not necessarily less qualified nor should they be less valued; they add to the environment, not detract.

Everyone comes to MIT with a strong desire and the fundamental ability to succeed. Our community suffers when members assume others don’t belong, and treat any stumble as validating this view. Every MIT student goes through periods of self-doubt; imagine the impact if their peers use them to argue that they don’t belong. Non-acceptance can undercut anyone’s confidence, and in fact promote an atmosphere in which otherwise successful members fail. Excellence has many dimensions; MIT flourishes by including all of them.

Grimson is the Chancellor of MIT. Hastings, Ortiz, and Colombo are the Deans for Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education, and Student Life, respectively.

32 Comments
1
Tim McCormack about 6 years ago

I'm pretty sure this doesn't actually address any of the difficult and debate-worthy questions raised in Briscoe's piece.

If you said "we take a random set of 3000 of the top male applicants and a random set of 3000 of the top female applicants", that would be interesting. Or if you said "we use measures of potential, not previous achievement on standardized tests, which balances the gender ratio" -- that would also be interesting.

But just affirming that you don't use any sort of gender information in the selection process doesn't actually address anything in the original post.

We need more open, honest, insightful debate on these topics.

2
MIT Senior about 6 years ago

This article's tone and content (does it even have any?) do nothing to answer the question of why race and gender influence admissions in a profound way at MIT. I'm sure all rational people agree with most of what Chancellor Grimson et. al have written, but this accomplishes nothing. The question the authors need to answer is why more qualified non-URM candidates are turned away in favor of less-qualified URMs (I did not say unqualified). This article is nauseatingly idealistic, and I am ashamed for the authors that believe this is a contribution to the debate taking place.

3
Greg Perkins almost 6 years ago

"There are many more fully qualified applicants than there is space for them; we might easily admit twice as many or more students as we do currently and not see a decrease in quality."

The point is that "more qualified" candidates are not chosen against in favor of "less-qualified URMs". The choice is between equally qualified candidates, and it is made in such a way as to promote as diverse a community and learning environment as possible.

4
MIT Grad almost 6 years ago

I think the point of this article was to say that the non-URM candidates who get turned away are indeed not 'more qualified' after all parts of the application are considered. (Essays, interview, personality, interests, extracurriculars) I think a lot of people tend to define the term 'qualified' on the basis of high school gpas and SAT scores.

I believe it is people's own prejudices that cause them to assume that more qualified non-URM candidates are turned away in favor of less-qualified URMs. It not as if any of us have seen a large sample set of applications from denied non-URM candidates and compared them to accepted URM candidates. I don't see how we, as students, armed with no information about the applications of our peers, can assert that less-qualified URMs are being favored. So maybe the author didn't answer that question, because it is simply not true.

I also believe it is likely that the reason specific application processes, acceptance policies, and statistics...aka content....have not been discussed in this article, is that one of the nation's most competitive institutions cannot simply spill information about some of their acceptance protocols in order to appease us.

5
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

I am glad to see people are starting to talk about this. I do not support affirmative action or gender preferences. Instead, I believe providing help to the economically disadvantaged would do a much better job than gender or race-based admissions.

6
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

In response to the 5th comment, affirmative action does take into consideration the socioeconomic status of a candidate. That's something a lot of people fail to consider and tend to feel that affirmative action in synonymous with someone's race.

As an example for those who might not understand, a candidate who attended a low quality public school as a result of having no other option, and whose family could not afford a private school might not have an application full of advanced placement courses because their school did not offer them. As a result, this candidate is not 'favored', but rather the lack of having taken advanced placement courses might not be held against them. Or at least this is my understanding with how some universities look at applications. I am not claiming to know for sure if this is how MIT also would approach that hypothetical example.

Also in regards to race at least, it is a well known fact that on average the same races that fall into the URM category also make up a much greater percentage of the economically disadvantaged population in this country. So I would say if anyone believes #5 has a valid argument about how to look at economically disadvantaged students, in some sense you do support affirmative action in one of its forms.

I believe that since it it easier for people to see race as opposed to knowing a student's family's economic status, it might have become so easy to see affirmative action as purely benefitting a student based on their race...without acknowledging that at least in the United States, there is a correlation between race and economic status.

7
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"Instead, I believe providing help to the economically disadvantaged would do a much better job than gender or race-based admissions."

Considering that minorities are statistically more economically disadvantaged than other races, should race-based affirmative action disappear in favor of judging strictly on life-circumstances you can bet the next complaint is that it's raced-based affirmative action in all but name only.

"I don't see how we, as students, armed with no information about the applications of our peers, can assert that less-qualified URMs are being favored. "

So true. What are people basing their opinions on? The self-reports of URM about their standardized test scores or high school courses? Or that you just see them struggling with material? This is MIT, I see tons of people struggling with material. Frankly, it's rare that I see a genius/savant student of any race that can hack it on their own - which is why students are constantly encouraged to work together and help one another, and why tutoring services exist.

"The question the authors need to answer is why more qualified non-URM candidates are turned away in favor of less-qualified URMs (I did not say unqualified)."

Who is to say they're more qualified? The MIT Admissions blog has their own post about this (http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/diversity-or-merit), but one of the essential points is that after a certain test score, the ability of the test to predict success at MIT dwindles to the point that despite a difference in score, applicants are equally qualified and thus, it's time to consider other factors.

8
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"and it is made in such a way as to promote as diverse a community and learning environment as possible."

Diversity along what dimension?

For example, how many percent of new faculty self-identify as conservatives?

If intellectual diversity of the campus is the main goal, then is going by the color of people's skin really the best we can do?

The elephant in the room that Grimson et al

do not address: Why should we allow race to matter, at all?

9
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"The question the authors need to answer is why more qualified non-URM candidates are turned away in favor of less-qualified URMs (I did not say unqualified)."

What evidence do you have that this happens?

10
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

Also, this isn't just about admissions.

A modest proposal: How about banning from the campus advertising for / awarding of all and any contests, prizes, scholarships, etc that discriminate based on gender and/or race?

11
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

Now the black community will stop spamming me with their idea of a "proactive response".

- URM

12
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"Why should we allow race to matter, at all?"

Because race is part of what informs the lived experience of any given individual, and therefore their perspective, their contributions, and so forth?

I mean it's sort of critically important, not as the only factor, but as one of many in a holistic process, absolutely. There's a reason Brown v. Board happened, you know.

13
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

I find it incredibly interesting that The Tech feels the need to gang up on Brandon with 5-6 different articles for affirmative action, while only giving anti affirmative action Brandon's column to speak. Being against affirmative action is not a fringe, minority view reserved for privileged white males. The entire tone of these articles suggests this is an 'unacceptable view' that is poltically incorrect and must be quashed out. In many states' public universities, such as California and Michigan and Washington, affirmative action giving racial preferences has been banned by voters.

"The question the authors need to answer is why more qualified non-URM candidates are turned away in favor of less-qualified URMs (I did not say unqualified)."

By definition, this is what affirmative action does. If the URMs were more qualified, they wouldn't need affirmative action to get in.

14
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"By definition, this is what affirmative action does. If the URMs were more qualified, they wouldn't need affirmative action to get in."

Actually, you are confused as to the meaning of affirmative action. Historically, "affirmative action" policies were implemented in the U.S. in order to make sure that employers "acted affirmatively" on qualified minority applicants whom they might not otherwise hire because of their own racial biases.

In our present discussion, however, we are not talking about that. You do not have to choose between qualification and minority status at MIT, nor do URMs (faculty or student) at MIT "need" affirmative action for a boost.

Instead, the point of "acting affirmatively" on such applications - within the context of a holistic admissions process - is to correct for systemic underrepresentation in the academic pipeline.

Consider a hypothetical faculty opening. 90 of the applicants might be male. If the position goes to a female applicant, is that because "affirmative action" got her in? Why would you suppose that? Why would you not instead suppose that the female faculty applicant were just as qualified, but simply a member of a much smaller pool because of complex historical and social reasons? In other words why would you assume that the different rate of applications has any bearing on any one given applicant?

That's a fundamental attribution error of the worst sort. You would not suppose that unless you were predisposed to believe that, because she was a member of a historically underrepresented pool, the female faculty candidate was a priori less qualified.

In other words, the strong reaction is not "ganging up" on "politically incorrect" views. It is instead reacting harshly to breathtakingly bad reasoning and a complete inability to grasp the core dynamics of the question at hand. For whatever other faults it may have, the MIT community is generally not shy about calling a spade a spade when it comes to unconvincing arguments.

15
MIT Student almost 6 years ago

Why can't we move to a system of race and gender blind admissions, similar to how we have moved to need-blind admissions?

If minority/gender are not being used for balancing distributions, but rather an indicator of "leadership, innovation, contributions outside the classroom, match of personality with MITs atmosphere, and other factors," then surely we will come out with a similar class composition by selecting for life experience and diversity of perspective without taking race or gender into account.

Looking at the [self-reported, but representative] numerical data behind Harvard Law School Admissions, which also claims to run a holistic affirmative action process that aims for a "critical mass" of diverse candidates over quotas: (the most readily accessible raw data I could quickly find online)

http://harvard.lawschoolnumbers.com/stats/1011/

You can see that ALL of the acceptances at the fringe based on GPA/LSAT were URM candidates. Meanwhile, statistically few of the acceptances in median to above median range are URM candidates. This is true across 8 years of data available, and amongst all the top schools. I don't doubt that these URM students bring diversity of perspective and life experience, but it seems that ALL the non-URM candidates were held to a higher standard for GPA/LSAT, regardless of their life experiences.

This is the sort of data that troubles those against affirmative action.

16
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

"This is the sort of data that troubles those against affirmative action."

Exactly.

Regardless of the flowery language and the claims that no one is being discriminated against, or the (reasonable) assertions that test scores aren't everything: Asian and white males have to do better on their tests to be admitted. Sure, in any one isolated case it is possible that an applicant just didn't it for other reasons. But across thousands of cases, this sort of thing is evidence of discrimination against Asians and Whites in favor of privileged groups.

Define merit how you want, but then hold everyone to the same standard no matter what their skin color.

17
KV almost 6 years ago

"Why can't we move to a system of race and gender blind admissions, similar to how we have moved to need-blind admissions?...selecting for life experience and diversity of perspective without taking race or gender into account."

I hear what you are saying, and disagree with you inasmuch as I don't think that someone who has had a lot of advantage and done nothing with it in terms of leadership, innovation, etc should be selected just because of their race.

But what you are asking for is kind of conceptually impossible.

It's very easy to conduct need-blind admissions. At a "need-aware" institution, you do not make admissions decisions without knowledge of the family's income, and whether they will be able to afford your school, or whether you will give them money. In need-blind, all you do is just not have that information, and proceed accordingly.

Race and gender blind admissions doesn't make the same sort of structurally simple sense. Would you just not ask the questions? What would it do to people who have names associated with racial groups (or not associated with racial groups)? Give them an undeserved bump or demerit? And what about gendered names, aka almost all of them? It's not like you can "unsee" these things once you see them.

Besides: the point of "need-blind" admissions isn't really to not take financial need into context; it's to give admissions offices the freedom to accept students who may not be able to pay, and to not accept students merely because they would be able to pay; in other words, to accept the right students regardless of their ability to pay.

But "need blind" does not mean "blind to economic context." Like race, and gender, socioeconomic status can be considered as part of a holistic admissions in order to help understand applicants in the context of their success, and in what they would contribute to the institute.

And again - this all really operates on the premise that the current system is bad because it admitted unqualified, unmeritorious students to MIT. And there is no reason to assume that unless you are doing so a priori.

18
KV almost 6 years ago

16:

"Regardless of the flowery language and the claims that no one is being discriminated against, or the (reasonable) assertions that test scores aren't everything: Asian and white males have to do better on their tests to be admitted. Sure, in any one isolated case it is possible that an applicant just didn't it for other reasons. But across thousands of cases, this sort of thing is evidence of discrimination against Asians and Whites in favor of privileged groups.

Define merit how you want, but then hold everyone to the same standard no matter what their skin color."

Your post doesn't have consistent internal logic. You're right, I think, to concede that test scores aren't everything. But if test scores aren't everything, and the only evidence you have that people aren't being held to the same standard is test scores...then what evidence do you have?

I would argue that merit has been defined pretty clearly in practice by MIT's faculty and administration. It means bringing in smart people who will contribute a variety of perspectives and worldviews so not everyone is part of the same background, culture, etc. The part where people get annoyed is where particular quantitative metrics don't match up. But the argument there is, well, when and why do these quantitative metrics really matter? If the people are all sufficiently well-prepared and intelligent - as even Briscoe admitted - then why does anyone assume there is discrimination?

Also, just FYI, this line:

"this sort of thing is evidence of discrimination against Asians and Whites in favor of privileged groups."

makes you look incredibly unaware of what "privilege" means in any sort of actual real world context. Again, the perceived necessity of affirmative action isn't a privilege to the groups being acted affirmatively upon; it's proof positive of disadvantage and unprivilege affecting the groups which require it. You don't need affirmative action for groups or individuals who are already proportionately overrepresented in the pipeline.

19
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

If this debate shows one thing, it's how affirmative action fuels divisive race politics.

The way to end discrimination based on race is to stop discriminating based on race.

All the "good" holistic criteria that people have mentioned such as overcoming adversity and contributing perspective from different life circumstances would still be as easily accounted for via essays etc. What would be the loss if race no longer was given the special attention it receives today?

As MLK said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will NOT be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

20
WR almost 6 years ago

I once attended a speech from a partner at a well known consulting firm, who happens to be a black MIT alum. I do not remember his quote exactly, but his overall message was that graduating is not proof of what you have done, but proof that you can do much more. I think this idea also applies to getting into MIT and most colleges in general. Colleges do not only consider what you have done when they admit you, but they must also consider the circumstances in which you excelled. If you went to a "privileged" private school and took 4 AP courses and scored a 4 on all your exams you are not as "qualified" as someone who went to a failing public school that only had 4 AP courses and took all of them and also achieved 4's. Excelling despite your circumstances says something about how you will do if given better instruction and better opportunities. We do not live in a vacuum and I think MIT understands. I agree that race should not be a factor, but unfortunately it is inextricably linked to socio-ecomonic factors.

Also, I do not think MIT is saying that Brandon has an "unacceptable view". LIke any institution, MIT has a right to stand by its principles and fundamental beliefs. MIT owns the tech and should make sure its view is the most prevalent, just like Fox voices mostly right wing views.

21
KV almost 6 years ago

"All the "good" holistic criteria that people have mentioned such as overcoming adversity and contributing perspective from different life circumstances would still be as easily accounted for via essays etc. What would be the loss if race no longer was given the special attention it receives today? "

But race is an indivisible aspect of "different life circumstances" and "perspectives." You can't separate it out any more than you can gender, or socioeconomic status, or geography, or parental education, or opportunities at your high school, or a thousand other things that Chancellor Grimson says are considered in a holistic process. I agree that race perhaps should not have "special attention" relative to these other factors. But unfortunately race still plays a role in structuring the lives and experiences of individuals, and as long as that is true it will necessarily be one (of many!!) things appropriately considered in a holistic process.

22
MIT Student almost 6 years ago

"But what you are asking for is kind of conceptually impossible."

Uh, what? Race-based affirmative action has been rejected by a number of universities, including the entire University of California system. For better or worse, switching to a non-AA policy has had a considerable impact on the class profiles of these institutions. Of course, the UC system has other mechanisms in place to balance privilege with diversity, such as a policy of automatically accepting the top X of people from all high schools, including those located in underprivileged or URM-dominated neighborhoods. "Race-blind" doesn't mean we need to scrub applications clean of any identifying information (after all, being need-blind doesn't prevent MIT from asking us what our parents do for a living, which surely provides some indication of socioeconomic status...), simply that we would stop having an official policy where things like race or gender matter in the discussion of overall excellence.

Also, I think it's been made sufficiently clear that in proposing alternatives to affirmative action, no one is saying that anyone at MIT is unmeritorious. The admissions system is not necessarily bad, but as the authors of this piece admit it is also far from perfect. In fact, the original proponents of affirmative action (as well as the Supreme Court cases upholding its constitutionality) always intended for it to be a temporary solution. The long term goal of affirmative action has always been for it to eventually render itself obsolete. To treat affirmative action as a default, necessary standard above challenge is incongruous with its purpose and history.

23
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

14: I agree that in the past, let us say the 1960s, affirmative action was necessary and intended to prevent employers from just going around avoiding hiring black people since they didn't like them, when the majority of (white) americans were in fact privileged.

This is the problem with your argument: There is a lot of roundabout talk about diversity requiring us to make these decisions, but in the end they are exactly the type of discrimination we originally sought to avoid. I'm not against diversity on a college campus, but I am against diversity taking a higher precedence than merit and fairness. Why consider the race of applicants at all?

Now: What happens in reality is that white/non URM applicants are held to higher standards in admission. There are many articles and books written about this phenomenom, and you can easily see for yourself by going on CollegeConfidential admit threads to look at individual people's activities, etc. MIT loves to say this because you can't easily quantify achievement outside of test scores so you "can't compare" - basically what they're saying is URM students overall have more interesting life stories, better essays and activities, etc. than white students, so that's why we aren't letting in less qualified people.

24
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

About your hypothetical faculty opening: If it goes to a female candidate, under a no affirmative action program, that doesn't mean anything. I would not accuse her of being less qualified. But if it goes to a female candidate who GOT PREFERENCES for being female (aka affirmative action), people who understand what affirmative action does will take notice.

America is going to be less than 50 white by 2050. Now that whites will be a minority, how long will policies discriminate against another minority? Is it feasible or balanced at all to reduce a minority white population (or 25 white male population) by allowing the 50 non-white applicants to get preferences?

And yes, I find that a lot of the comments here are indicative of supporint censorship. At MIT, being gainst affirmative action, at least on these forums is politically incorrect. Just look at the letters to the editor suggesting that "some views are better left un-expressed" and trying to shame Brandon for writing the article. My praise goes out to Brandom for having the bravery to say what many of us want to say and put his name to an article in the Tech.

25
The Tech Executive Board almost 6 years ago

Comment 20, above, stating "MIT owns The Tech", is inaccurate. The Tech is editorially and financially independent from MIT.

While the members of The Tech are students of the Institute, MIT exercises no control over The Tech.

- The Tech Executive Board

26
JZ almost 6 years ago

i completely agree with those who said that race has a huge impact on your experience in the usa. i'm asian american. i grew up raised, somewhat stereotypically, that my parents overcame huge barriers to bring us to the united states with almost no money in their pockets. they had coworkers and fellow students ask them "when are you going back to china?" on the playground at school, i had practically every taunt thrown at me, bullies ganging up on me, people saying chink every day to my friend in middle school with no remorse. i didnt have as much trouble speaking english as some of my friends, but than was another issue a lot of us faced. my parents said told me to eat bitter, keep your head high and stick through school - fighting would just get me into the principals office again. of course, many things other than race defined my childhood, but i'm explaining my experience in the usa, and one i dont think is a privileged life.

now, mit comes along, and what do they do? they say sweet things about affirmative action, and righting past wrong in americas history and just discrimination faced in life. then they give me a giant slap in the face right afterward. basically, i need to score higher on tests and compete to a higher standard to get in. i would like if they just dropped all their pretentious language and just straight up said: we increase the number of latinos and african americans at mit for diversity reasons.

i researched this phenonmenom, and found this quote from a former admisions officer: "It's possible that Henry Park looked like a thousand other Korean kids with the exact same profile of grades and activities and temperament - yet another textureless math grind." ouch. this pissed me off, and felt like a personal attack straight from the top of mit. "korean" is not a throwaway word. its there for a reason. its a stereotype, plain and simple. try replacing it with a number of other ethnicities, or your own, and see how it feels. ill leave it to the rest of mit to decide how we should change, or eliminate race in affirmative to make admissions more fair. to end, heres a quote to top off what i think:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

27
Veronica Lane almost 6 years ago

In response to comment 13:

The Tech and the MIT community wouldn't have felt the need to do respond so strongly if Briscoe had actually made a well written argument.

Briscoe's article was filled with fallacies. Throughout the article, he made extrapolations based on weak evidence and sometimes lacked any evidence at all. Discussion is critical, but Briscoe needed to ensure that he had his facts correct.

Briscoe took a biased sample of hiring data from a single year, and made generalizations upon it. The truth is MIT currently has only 12 female faculty, while Briscoe argues that the institution is making "too drastic a change," based off only a single year's worth of data.

Furthermore, Briscoe made hasty generalizations about the 2010 Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity, implying that MIT's primary focus is to rapidly increase the number of women/minorities, regardless of its effect on the meritocracy, which is certainly not the case.

Briscoe references Hockfield's speech about diversity and inclusion and declares that this is proof of MIT's 'dramatic' change in policies (another hasty generalization). In reality, Hockfield simply stated that these principles are here to stay and was not suggesting that the university make drastic changes and undercut the meritocracy, as he implied.

In reference to admissions statistics, naturally, the percentage of White/Asian male students is going to decrease because MIT is recruiting to a wider variety of places and is putting programs in place to ensure that qualified students of various backgrounds hear about MIT and are given a chance to apply. This is what Hockfield meant by inclusion; giving the opportunity to succeed to qualified students who would not have had it under the less inclusive recruiting methods. Past recruiting methods generally recruited white/asian males, even if it wasn't on purpose.

The Tech's response was strong, but a such a response is warranted when a writer makes such strong generalizations based on meager evidence and claims to present the truth. At the same time, Briscoe brought up good points. The Institute should regularly review its measures to ensure that the promotion diversity and inclusion does not undermine the meritocracy.

It's not Briscoe's opposition to affirmative action that so many in the MIT community found appalling, but his hasty generalizations.

28
Cecilia almost 6 years ago

It really frustrates me that those that argue against admitting more students of color and women assume that test scores and grades are the only way to measure one's abilities. There is so much research that shows that standardized assessments are written with bias against marginalized groups. In addition, basing solely on grades is problematic as many schools have different ways of grading and ranking students. I don't think that we'll ever create a perfect measure that can accurately capture ability--and so MIT's admissions process of looking at students holistically and really seeing how they have made the best of their personal context is ideal because it really allows for MIT to pick the best of the best from different places nationwide. This conversation isn't new, and I really think that MIT needs to do a better job of facilitating this conversation in such a way that there is a safe space for students to dialogue about race and gender relations. The way in which this conversation was brought about was not ideal, as it came off as an attack to students of color and women at MIT. Racism still exists in the United States, and Briscoe's post was a form of microagression towards women and students of color and also a reflection of his own problems with sharing MIT with marginalized students. It is clearly time to have this conversation, but I also think that it needs to be mediated so that all students can participate in a way that is respectful to others.

29
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

to 27:

What you talk about are recruiting efforts - changing who applies to MIT. This isn't affirmative action in admissions, what Brandon wrote about.

What is MIT's target in recruiting? 50/50 gender ratio? Right now, barely 40 percent of college grads are male. No one cares about that. It's not a national crisis at all. What about fields where faculty are under 20 percent female?

Discussing this can get dangerous, so MIT instead prefers to rely on saying increasing representation and diversity. Basically they can do whatever however and if you complain, you're racist, sexist whatever. If you're Larry Summers and say anything about standard deviation in ability - more geniuses and more idiots in one sex - you may just get effectively fired.

Why do you think whites or Asians having higher SAT scores and GPAs means they have more boring applications, fewer hooks, fewer activities, and so forth? You can consider all of those things without having to resort to including race for race's sake. See 22

I agree that Brandon's statistical analysis is weak. He should have used better examples instead of sampling 1 year and jumping to conclusions. But Eric Grimson's response is even weaker. It basically says affirmative action doesn't mean preferences, when that's what it really does in admissions and hiring - otherwise it would have NO EFFECT.

One last point - what does MIT think that with white males under 20 percent of the MIT undergrads, is the need to paint them as the great oppressor in keeping others out still there?

30
Anonymous almost 6 years ago

Based on reading these threads, white guys are the only people not allowed to speak against affirmative action without creating so-called microaggression against the world. This is a rational debate, stop taking it personally. Meanwhile it is fine to attack Brandon for being one of those white dudes. How is this not censorship through doublespeak?

31
James K Herms MtE ’87 almost 6 years ago

Undergraduate student gender (fall 2010)

Male 55

Female 45

6-year graduation rate by gender

Male 91

Female 95

College Navigator: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S. Dept of Educ., http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?id166683

32
James K Herms MtE \'87 almost 6 years ago

[Clarification]

ENROLLMENT (fall 2010)

Undergraduate student gender:

M 55 percent

F 45 percent

GRADUATION RATES

6-year graduation rate by gender:

M 91 percent

F 95 percent

http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/