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Interview: Heather Mac Donald on California in Decline

I don't know if you've come across this nauseating rhetoric that's prevalent on campuses today about we need to create safe spaces for minority and females and gays; this is ludicrous.  There is no more safe environment in the history of humankind than a universe -- an American university today, and certainly the University of California.

Nevertheless, UC-2, this diversity-obsessed component of University of California constantly creates new quarter-million dollar diversity sinecures, new vice-provosts for equity diversity and inclusion, who go around bashing the faculty for allegedly discriminating against minority and female candidates when again, the exact opposite is patently obvious every single day of the week.  Every faculty search spends enormous amount of time combing the country for the same finite and inadequate source of qualified minority, and in the sciences, female PhDs to go around that are being chased by Harvard, that are being chased by Stanford.  The problem is with the pipeline, but the -- the conceit at UC-2 is that the problem lies with the faculty or discriminating against these highly-qualified, uh, female physics PhDs and the minority chemistry PhDs.  It's an outright lie and yet this is diverting enormous amounts of faculty tension and taxpayer dollars.

MR. DRISCOLL:  In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which at least in theory was supposed to ban racial preferences.  How does the University of California get around these prohibitions?

MS. MAC DONALD:  Totally in bad faith.  They have come up with one admissions policy after another to try to recreate the explicit racial quotas that they once had.  They use something called holistic admissions, which again is something that we see across the country which purports to take into account a student's entire background, giving extra points to things like growing up in single-parent families.  These are surrogates for being a minority and they allow the school to ignore the academic qualifications of students.

There were other gambits.  UCLA Law School, for instance, created a program in this specious academic subspecialty called Critical Race Theory, which is basically saying we're going to allow minorities to study their own identity and -- and claim that the law is inherently racist.  And so UCLA Law School said well, we are going to have a program that will give special preference to students who express interest in Critical Race Theory thinking that this would be a automatic selection process for minority students.  Well, it turns out that the white students who applied and said that they were interested in -- they were all automatically rejected, even though the black students that were automatically admitted into this program had much lower test scores than they did, and LSAT scores.

This is a problem of the effort to evade the ban on racial preferences.  It's a problem, above all, for the alleged beneficiaries of racial preferences.  There is a UCLA law professor, Richard Sander, who has done exquisite work on -- empirical work on the effect of preferences on their beneficiaries and students who were admitted to schools for which they are not academically qualified overwhelmingly end up in the lowest part of their class and if they've come in expressing interest in the sciences, have much higher rates of dropping out of those majors than students who come in, including minority students, with equal qualifications to those of their peers.

So UC, in seeking to come up with various dodges to reintroduce racial preferences is really doing a disservice to the minority students who it admits.  I mean, I talked to a student at UCLA; it was unbelievable.  She had a combined tripartite SAT score of 1,300; that's on a scale of 2,400 in the new tripartite scale; it's not the usual 1,600.  1,300 -- the average admit to UCLA had over a 2,000 tripartite scale.  The only reason that this girl was admitted was she was Black, and as the mismatch theory that Richard Sander, uh, has -- has developed that I've just referred to, she failed her freshman statistics, psychology statistics class, and only was allowed to continue because she retook it and got a C -- a C, which just squeaked her by, but she's a living example of the folly of this, and it goes on despite the Constitutional ban.