On Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School accidentally releasing personal academic information for its entire admitted class. It was a massive screw-up, and on Wednesday, we showed you the GPA and LSAT scores for Baylor’s admitted students (with the students’ names redacted, of course).
But there were other fields available in the accidentally released spreadsheet, including racial categorizations for each student and scholarship information. I didn’t include the race field earlier this week because, frankly, I didn’t want the entire news story (of the screw-up) to be overrun by a discussion about race and affirmative action.
But, look, I ain’t afraid of you people. Getting a complete racial breakdown of the class to go along with their grades and LSAT scores is a look inside the law school admissions process that we don’t often get to see.
So, let’s play our game. Looking at the Baylor numbers, you can see the affirmative action “bump” in LSAT scores, and to my eyes, it really shows how foolish the opponents of affirmative action really are….
You can look at the GPA, LSAT, undergrad, race, and scholarship information for the Baylor Law admitted class on the next page.
Eyeballing the numbers (and I haven’t done a full statistical analysis on this data because I think it’s kind of missing the point), I see about a three to four point bump for African-American or Hispanic students. By “bump,” I mean to say that if you were a white student, you had a fighting chance to get into Baylor with a 161 or 162 LSAT score. If you were black or Latino, you were in the running with a 159 or 158. There are some outliers, of course — a black kid with a 156, a white kid with a 158 — but, in general, I’m eyeballing the mode for white students at 162, and the mode for blacks and Hispanics at 159 or 158.
So, all the hand-wringing from some white people and conservatives and Chief Justice Roberts, people who act as if affirmative action is somehow the racial Waterloo for white people in America, concerns about three or four LSAT points at a middle-of-the-pack private law school in Texas. That’s what we’re fighting over, folks. Sorry, lemme cue the Al Sharpton voice [la, la, lalala, aww Lord]:
After 300 years of slavery in America, 100 years of legalized segregation and oppression, and not one generation removed from not being allowed to go to school with white children, the conservative establishment wants to deny opportunity to the black and brown children of this country based on three or four points on a standardized test? THEY ATE THE BLUEBERRY PIE!!! [end scene]
Look, not to be rude, but if you are a white person with all the social and economic advantages thereof, and you can’t bust 160 on the LSAT to get into freaking Baylor, I really have limited sympathy for you. You didn’t get “shafted” by some Latino kid who got an “unfair advantage” over you, you got out-competed by all the white people who can break 160 without breaking a sweat.
And while we’re here, if you are a black person and you can’t break 160 on the freaking LSAT, and you don’t get into a top 100 law school because Baylor isn’t more aggressive with its affirmative action policies, I don’t have sympathy for you either.
If you want to get into a school, a particular school, a better school, then do better on the test. I don’t know how many people with a 177 applied to Baylor Law, but I bet all of them got in. You want it, go make it happen.
If you can’t do better (and I’m sorry, 160 is not an unreasonable goal for people who want to go to the 51st best law school in the country), then guess what: it’s a crapshoot. If Baylor wants to give a plus factor to a kid who has been historically disadvantaged, or a kid who is a legacy, or hell, a kid who looks really good in a bathing suit, then so be it. I’m not going to cry because Baylor looked at two people who scored a 158 on the LSAT and took the black kid. As Chris Rock says: “But if there’s a tie, f**k ‘em. You had a 400-year head start motherf**ker.”
Especially since you can still get into Baylor Law if you are white and score a 158. It happens. You just have to get lucky (and probably have some other factor in your favor). I just don’t think there is anybody who didn’t get into Baylor who had their spot “taken” by a minority. First of all, it wasn’t “their” spot to begin with, and second, that person got out-competed by a host of people. You know, if you want to be a millionaire in this country, you can invent something useful or do something great, or you can stand in line to buy a lotto ticket like everybody else.
Now there are, of course, the white people who applied to Baylor who, even though they weren’t racially disadvantaged throughout their lives, experienced economic disadvantage. The test prep companies don’t care if you are white or black; they care about your green. Shouldn’t these white people get a three-point “bump” as well?
I think so. Remember, I’m the guy who thinks it’s a big freaking myth to call a standardized test like the LSAT an objective assessment of anything other than how well you prepared for the LSAT. If I were on an admissions board, I’d find the dirt poor white guy who scratched and clawed his way to a 155 studying for the LSAT while he worked his second job way more impressive than the white guy who scored 161 because he flipped through a test prep book while on spring break in Corpus Christi.
I think the way to address that issue is to move beyond our obsession with standardized tests, not go back to a state where we equally penalize all who do poorly on them.
But I digress. This October, the Supreme Court will enter into the political arena, again, and most likely ignore its recent precedents, again, when it hears oral argument in Fisher v. UT. Most likely, the Court will overturn affirmative action, because the conservatives finally have the votes to do it.
But when you hear all the bluster and foolishness about Justice “I really care about civil rights” Roberts’s cutting-edge theories on how to end racial oppression in this country (for white people, of course), remember that what he’s really talking about is something like this: three or four points. We’re talking about whether race can be one factor among many.
The scars of centuries of slavery and segregation can still be seen today in any black community — and yet there are people who will throw a hissy fit because there is one factor in an admissions decision that might not automatically favor white people.