The campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison erupted this week after the release of two studies documenting the heavy use of race in deciding which students to admit to the undergraduate and law schools. The evidence of discrimination is undeniable, and the reaction by critics was undeniably dishonest and thuggish.
The Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), which I founded in 1995 to expose and challenge misguided race-based public policies, conducted the studies based on an analysis of the university's own admissions data. But the university was none too keen on releasing the data, which CEO obtained through filing Freedom of Information Act requests only after a successful legal challenge went all the way to the state supreme court.
It's no wonder the university wanted to keep the information secret. The studies show that a black or Hispanic undergraduate applicant was more than 500 times likelier to be admitted to Wisconsin-Madison than a similarly qualified white or Asian applicant. The odds ratio favoring black law school applicants over similarly qualified white applicants was 61 to 1.
The median SAT scores of black undergraduates who were admitted were 150 points lower than whites or Asians, while the median Hispanic scores were roughly 100 points lower. And median high school rankings for both blacks and Hispanics were also lower than for either whites or Asians.
CEO has published studies of racial double standards in admissions at scores of public colleges and universities across the country with similar findings, but none has caused such a violent reaction.
Instead of addressing the findings of the study, the university's vice provost for diversity, Damon A. Williams, dishonestly told students that "CEO has one mission and one mission only: dismantle the gains that were achieved by the civil rights movement." In fact, CEO's only mission is to promote color-blind equal opportunity so that, in Martin Luther King's vision, no one will be judged by the color of his or her skin.
Egged on by inflammatory comments by university officials, student groups organized a flashmob via a Facebook page that was filled with propaganda and outright lies about CEO wanting to dismantle their student groups. More than a hundred angry students stormed the press conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Madison, where CEO president Roger Clegg was releasing the study.
The hotel management described what took place in a press statement afterward: "Unfortunately, when escorting meeting attendees out of the hotel through a private entrance, staff were then rushed by a mob of protestors, throwing employees to the ground. The mob became increasingly physically violent when forcing themselves into the meeting room where the press conference had already ended, filling it over fire-code capacity. Madison police arrived on the scene after the protestors had stormed the hotel."
But the outrageous behavior didn't end there -- and it wasn't just students but also faculty who engaged in disgraceful conduct. Later the same day of the press conference, Clegg debated UW law professor Larry Church on campus. The crowd booed, hissed, and shouted insults, continuously interrupting Clegg during the debate.
Having used Facebook to organize the flashmob, students and some faculty extended their use of social media and tweeted the debate live. Even with Twitter's 140-character limit, you'd think participants would be able to come up with something more substantive than the repeated use of the label "racist" to describe Clegg and his arguments against racial double standards, but hundreds of tweets exhibited little more than hysterical rants and personal attacks.
Perhaps the most offensive tweet was posted by Sara Goldrick-Rab, an associate professor of educational policy studies and sociology. After announcing that she was "Getting set to live blog this debate between a racist and a scholar," she tweeted that Clegg sounded "like the whitest white boy I've ever heard." The only racism in evidence came from the defenders of the university's race-based admissions policies, such as Professor Goldrick-Rab.
You'd think that a responsible university would denounce the intimidation and lack of civility by its students and faculty. Instead, Vice Provost Williams told the student newspaper, "I'm most excited about how well the students represented themselves, the passion with which they engaged, the respectful tone in how they did it and the thoughtfulness of their questions and interactions."
It appears that not only are the university's admissions policies deeply discriminatory, but also that university officials applaud name-calling, distortion and outright physical assault.