Friday, September 29, 2006

The Other Affirmative Actions:
There's an interesting article in the latest issue of 'The Economist' to arrive at my door (Sept 23rd-29th). The title is 'Poison Ivy', and it's under the Lexington column, written by The Economist's American columnist. The columnist discusses the research of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden who has recently expanded his observations into a book titled 'The price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges-And Who Gets Left Outside the Gates'. The author Lexington says,
"Mr Golden shows that elite universities do everything in their power to admit the children of privilege. If they cannot get them through the front door by relaxing their standards, then they smuggle them in through the back. No less than 60% of the places in elite universities are given to candidates who have some sort of extra "hook" from rich or alumni parents to "sporting prowess". The number of whites who benefit from this affirmative action is far greater than the number of blacks."
So...when you think "sport related acceptances" don't just think basketball and football. Think the "sport admissions" that Lexington and the author he reviews mention. Think "...preppy sports such as fencing, squash, sailing, riding, golf and, of course, lacrosse. The University of Virginia even has scholarships for polo players."
The way that the American ruling class perpetuates itself would put the Soviet nomenclatura to shame. Notre Dame University, for instance, accepted 70% of the children of university employees as opposed to 19% of regular applicants despite the fact that the "hooked" applicants had a far lower average SAT score. The author asserts that university applicants without connections compete for only 40% of the class placements. The rest are "reserved" for the children of privilege.
All this is occurring at a time when the income inequality is growing and social mobility is lessening in the USA, not just in comparison to other countries-where the USA has usually cut a poor figure- but in absolute terms.
Have a look at the article in the print edition of 'The Economist'. The website presently puts it under the "privileged" category so you'd have to subscribe to read it there. Remember who really benefits from a much larger form of "affirmative action" the next time the subject is raised.

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