June 30, 2003

This time it's personal  

PG, a little vexed by the law school application process, wonders what he'll think of affirmative action if/when it adversely affects his admittance decisions. It's interesting that even though I've long supported affirmative action, I've never been comfortable telling institutions about my racial composition. For one thing, it's often not even clear to me going in whether race will help or hurt me - it seems to have done both in the past depending on circumstances (eg the government was on an Asian hiring rampage when I applied 4 years ago, but being part Asian can be pretty harsh if you're trying to get into grad school). And as I've explained in the past, I think the unfairness affirmative action creates for the individual is pretty hard to take, even in light of the broader goal (which I support) of changing the perception of historically opressed groups as historically oppressed groups. So I avoid the questions and prefer telephone interviews. Does this make me a hypocrite?

At any rate, it's my experience that the rationality of admittance decisions is pretty obscure, if it's even there to begin with. You get in here, you don't get in there - who knows why? I'm always amazed by these people who are suing the university because they didn't get in - how did they find out about the mechanics of the admissions process? Did they start asking around campus? And did they target their investigations with an eye to race? Call me lazy, call me stupid... this is something I would never do.


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