The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

If Proposition 16 Passes, California's Future Might Look Like This

Race-preferential admissions policies are not a gentle thumb on the scale for under-represented minorities in otherwise close cases.


Here are statistics from the University of Michigan in 2005 (before Michigan passed its version of Proposition 209, but after the twin Supreme Court cases against the University of Michigan in 2003).  If Proposition 16 passes, perhaps the University of California will look similar.

Median total SAT scores of admittees by race/ethnicity:

1160 – Black

1260 – Hispanic

1350 – White

1400 – Asian

Median high school GPA of admittees by race/ethnicity:

3.4 – Black

3.6 – Hispanic

3.9 – White

3.8 – Asian

Admission rates by race/ethnicity:





The message here is if you thought race preferences in college and university admissions were just a gentle thumb on the scale in otherwise close cases, you thought wrong. And if you thought that the Supreme Court's decisions in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger would cause the University of Michigan to decrease the size of preferences, you thought wrong about that too. Preferences got larger instead.

These figures come from a report by Dr. Althea Nagai at the Center for Equality Opportunity.

Nagai reports that "[c]ontrolling for other factors, odds ratios showed Michigan awarding a great deal of preference to black over white applicants (70 to 1) and to Hispanics over whites (roughly 46 to 1)." On the other hand, Michigan "gave whites a small preference over Asians." She calculated the Asian to white odds ratio at 0.69 to 1.

By contrast, controlling for race and other factors, the odds ratio of in-state over out-of-state applicants was 1.05 to 1 (which was not statistically significant).