UCLA professor alleges its admissions violate the law

UCLA professor Tim Groseclose (known to readers of this blog as an author of the Groseclose-Milyo media bias index) is a former member of UCLA’s Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools.  He has resigned from the committee, alleging that UCLA is breaking California law by considering race in its admissions.

As the old adage goes, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.  Much of Groseclose’s evidence (pdf) is damning but circumstantial.  (For example, the university chancellor’s made remarks to the committee lamenting the decline in minority admissions and demanding that they put into place a new “holistic” system that would make it impossible for judge academic achievement separately from personal factors (pp. 3-4).)  So Groseclose, an economist, set out to look at hard numbers to see what the new admissions policy was actually doing.

Despite serving on the committee that oversees admissions, he was refused access to even a sample of the data.  After further agitation, it was decided that a “workgroup” would conduct a study that would be an official product of the committee.  Groseclose was appointed to the workgroup (they could hardly refuse him), but then the chair of the workgroup determined that the workgroup would not be permitted to look at the data either (p. 9)!  Instead, the workgroup’s sole purpose would be to hire an independent researcher who would do the study.

Groseclose’s motion that the workgroup should get access to a sample of the data was defeated by a 3-3 vote (pp. 9-10).  The same block of three votes (including the chairmen of the committee and the workgroup) that dismissed the motion also rejected several candidates to do the study and selected UCLA sociologist Robert Mare to do the study.  (Groseclose volunteered to do the study himself for free, which would have saved UCLA about $100k (p. 10), and with considerably stronger privacy guarantees than Mare (p. 11).)

The process gives every impression that UCLA has something to hide.  In fact, the workgroup chairman himself made an unguarded remark (p. 9) stating explicitly that he wished to control access to the data to prevent any dissenting report.

UCLA has responded to the allegations in an unconvincing fashion.  It trumpets the upcoming study when Groseclose has already shown the study to be part of the cover-up effort.

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