Serious Business: “Bleaching” the UC; or, Fuck those Whiteys

July 20, 2009


I know our readership prefers videos of farts and poops to “sober, thoughtful commentary”, but unfortunately I only have so many farts and poops to offer you.

I’ve been fairly out of the Berkeley news loop, given that I’ve been spending about 60% of the last two weeks not in Berkeley. Also someone other than Andrew Sullivan is blogging over at the Daily Dish for the time being and that’s enough anti-incentive to keep me away from blogosphere. So to speak.

The last sober, thoughtful commentative post was put up about four days too late, and now that I’ve spend the last hour or so reading up on the recent queef in the face that the UC administration has offered up to the student body, my blogging Tourette’s forces me to comment on this particular op ed.

The writers (Christine Hong, Catherine Lee, and Andrew Leong; incidentally, it’s also illustrated by Alan Chen) complain that the administration has been brutally dismissive of the impact of new admissions policy as well as the UC Berkeley cuts on the Asian (and APA) population.

Although intended to promote greater African American, Chicano/Latino and Native American admissions, the new policy, as the UC’s own commissioned study and data indicate, will have negligible impact on the designated target populations while decreasing Asian and APA admissions rates by 10-20 percent. At the same time, white admissions are projected to increase by 20 percent or more. Far from diversifying the UC student body, this misguided policy will result in the latter’s dramatic bleaching. As Professor Emeritus of ethnic studies Ling-Chi Wang, notes, the new admissions policy is essentially “affirmative action for whites … extremely unfair to Asian-Americans on the one hand and underrepresented minorities on the other.”

Oh wait, just in case you didn’t catch it the first time:

…white admissions are projected to increase by 20 percent or more.

What? I didn’t quite hear you.

…white admissions are projected to increase by 20 percent or more.

If this was the intended effect of a policy, it would be an entirely different issue. One could certainly argue that, keeping the actual population breakdown of California in mind, there are a disproportionate number of Asians (and APAs, blablabla) at this school. One could also be a huge fucking racist and say that Asians (and APAs) are biologically or culturally inclined towards better test scores, but not necessarily more intelligent or more deserving, and therefore we should have an admissions policy that discriminates against them. Indeed, this has been the implicit attitude of many admissions policies, as Espenshade, Chung, and Walling have observed. (A study citing the original study found here.)

We can argue about this until we’re blue in the face, but that’s not even the point. The policy is meant to increase black and Hispanic enrollment at the school. Everyone can agree (and then run back to the Young Republicans secret club house and say otherwise) that those groups are underrepresented at the university, and that something ought to be done about it. I’m personally of the belief that efforts on the state’s part should be funneled into state-sponsored prenatal care, better preschools, better elementary schools, better high schools, and so on; that simply and blatantly discriminating on the basis of race is simply and blatantly unfair; and that a truly diverse college experience involves diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, rather than a crude construction of racial percentages… but this probably makes me a racist of some sort or another in the eyes of someone or other, so let’s set that aside.

If the aims of this policy are projected to succeed, and would end up reducing Asian admissions in order to admit more blacks and Hispanics, I would probably grumble a little bit, but then shrug and move on. Something has to be done, and a mildly unfair admissions policy isn’t the end of the world. I mean, in the end, my little brother can always end up going to Irvine.

But this policy is going to do pretty much the opposite of what it’s intended to do. It’s going to end up cutting Asians (and APAs… sigh) in order to let in more white kids. And if that’s not it’s supposed to do, it’s not just racism– it’s pure administrative incompetence, a PR scam that’s going to end up hurting hundreds of families who deserve better.

So let’s look past the trivial (yes, it is trivial) issue of distinguishing Asian-Americans from Asian-Pacific-Americans, the more insidious issue of how to best to treat Asians in admissions policies in general, the completely stupid point that the word “bleaching” is racist, and the wider, not-entirely-unrelated, but still separate issue of the Asian Languages departments. What’s at stake is a couple more brown kids in exchange for 20% more whites. This policy is one big, fat WTF.

I think we can all agree on that.



  1. ~*~FARTZ~*~

  2. I got pretty pissed by this because I saw the picture and thought it was going to be about west wing.

  3. I just like saving West Wing screencaps what can I say :3

  4. *~*FARTz*~*

  5. […] Serious Business: “Bleaching” a UC; or, Fuck those Whiteys « The … […]

  6. Serious errors in judgement by UCB Chancellor Birgeneau. $3 Million Extravagant, Arrogant Spending by UC President Yudof for UCBerkeley Chancellor Birgeneau to Hire Consultants – When Work Can Be Done Internally
    These days, every dollar counts. Contact Senate (Ms. Romero 916.651.4105) & Assembly (Ms. Brownley 916.319.2044) Chairperson’s Education Committees or your representatives.
    Do the work internally at no additional costs with UCB Academic Senate Leadership (C. Kutz/F. Doyle), the world – class UCB faculty/ staff, & the UCB Chancellor’s bloated staff (G. Breslauer, N. Brostrom, F. Yeary, P. Hoffman, C. Holmes etc) & President Yudof.
    President Yudof’s UCB Chancellor should do the high paid work he is paid for instead of hiring expensive East Coast consults to do the work of his job. ‘World class’ smart executives like Chancellor Birgeneau need to do the hard work analysis, and make the tough-minded difficult, decisions to identify inefficiencies.
    Where do the $3,000,000 consultants get their recommendations?
    From interviewing the UCB senior management that hired them and approves their monthly consultant fees and expense reports. Remember the nationally known auditing firm who said the right things and submitted recommendations that senior management wanted to hear and fooled the public, state, federal agencies?
    $3 million impartial consultants never bite the hands (Birgeneau/Yeary) that feed them!
    Mr. Birgeneau’s accountabilities include “inspiring innovation, leading change.” This involves “defining outcomes, energizing others at all levels and ensuring continuing commitment.” Instead of deploying his leadership and setting a good example by doing the work of his Chancellor’s job, Mr. Birgeneau outsourced his work to the $3,000,000 consultants. Doesn’t he engage UC and UC Berkeley people at all levels to examine inefficiencies and recommend $150 million of trims? Hasn’t he talked to Cornell and the University of North Carolina – which also hired the consultants — about best practices and recommendations that will eliminate inefficiencies?
    No wonder the faculty, staff, students, Senate & Assembly are angry and suspicious.
    In today’s economy three million dollars is a irresponsible price to pay when a knowledgeable ‘world-class’ UCB Chancellor and his bloated staff do not do the work of their jobs.
    Together, we will make a difference.

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