Wednesday, March 04, 2009
A Black Man Talks About Higher College Admission Standards / A White Man Talks About Higher College Admissions Standards
I will tell my tale in sequential order so that you can relate to what I witnessed.
About 3 years ago the African-American alumni who are connected to a large, White majority state school agreed to form a national network of Black Alumni local chapters. The goal was to lobby the school so that it might reconsider its slow erosion of Affirmative Action programs. The theory was that if we could bring more money to the university then in the way of scholarships and increased alumni memberships that they would listen to our demands.
At our kickoff meeting various members of our local chapter told the audience how things were "back in the day". During the mid-70's in particular the school was awash in Black freshmen as the Affirmative Action program was in full swing. Shortly thereafter they noted the problem with basic skills and they implemented a remedial learning program as a means of preparing the minority students to successfully compete in college.
In the past 5 years our university has shifted strategy. Instead of funding the program described above, their data shows that they should offer scholarships for high performing minority students and travel the nation seeking to draw them in. Bottom line - students who were successful in high school appear to repeat their study habits and show a greater track record of success in college.
In listening to the conversations that spread around the room during this first session I recall one Black male that I know say:
"If the admissions standards that they are proposing right now were in place when I attended......I never would have gotten in. I am now a doctor. I serve as proof that the school should look at providing opportunity rather than increasing the barriers to minority education."
As an opponent to Affirmative Action in the assignment of freshman seats - this testimony was rather compelling.
Fast forward to today.
There was a recent gathering of alumni from our school. There was general conversation about how much our school has changed both in the manner of physical plant as well as with regard to the academic rigor that they enforce.
As the conversation got around to a WHITE MAN - I was floored at what HE said:
"If the academic standards for admissions were as high back when I applied as they are now ----- I WOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE SCHOOL"
I assure you that few of the people who attended BOTH SESSIONS 'got it' as I did.
(Let me spell it out for you).
When "The Blacks" gathered together when it was "only us chickens" the focus was on how these increased standards negatively impacted the RACIAL MAKE UP of the school. There was hint of a RACIAL CONSPIRACY to PURGE BLACK FOLKS as the school sought to expand upon its "elite status".
Now a WHITE MAN said the very same words but HE made note on how he got off to a rocky start regarding his education but was thankful for the opportunity to grow into who he is now. He, of course, did not blame RACE as the limiting factor regarding why he would not be admitted today. Instead he used this as evidence of how much our school is now nationally regarded as a top ranked academic institution.
Can someone explain to me HOW two groups of people, focusing upon the very same phenomenon come up with such wildly different "theories"?