4A -Thursday, January 10, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Only part of the equation
Calculation of colleges' rankings are flawed
The University of Michigan is ranked 29th in the 2012-2013
U.S. News and World Report. While changes in these annu-
al rankings regularly bring both praise and concern, the
importance placed on the calculated numbers is often undue. Cur-
rent ranking systems like that of the U.S. News and World Report
raise questions of both universities distorting statistics and the
reports' own calculation mechanisms. College rankings are by and
large flawed, and fail to adequately capture many aspects of high-
er education. Until ranking systems are improved, administrators
and students should be wary of putting much consideration into a
We can't even address our dystopian
present because some of us are afraid of
some dystopian future."
- Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, said during his show
Tuesday night regarding gun control.
Effort creates success .not race
Under the current U.S. News ranking meth-
od, schools are blindly rewarded for spending
more per student - even if that increase in
spending doesn't reflect a higher quality edu-
cation. When a university, for example, spends
millions on creating state-of-the-art fitness
centers, their ranking could get a hefty boost.
However, certain cost-cutting behaviors, even
those that benefit the university as a whole,
may decrease a school's score.
According to University spokesman Rick
Fitzgerald, over the past decade the Uni-
versity has worked on controlling costs on
behind-the-scene expenses, such as effi-
cient building maintenance. Though con-
solidation of heating and cooling systems
saved the University money on non-academ-
ic expenditures, freeing more funding for
educational spending, the U.S. News noted
this cost cutting as simply a drop in spend-
ing per student. Such ranking systems thus
tend to overlook efficient spending, reward-
ing indiscriminate expenses over innova-
tion and smart downsizing.
Administrators can also manipulate the
numbers to inflate their university's standing,
misrepresenting the validity of the rankings..
In 2012, officials at both Claremont McKenna
College in California and Emory University
in Georgia admitted to inflating test scores
of their incoming freshman classes in their
own university's admission reports. Despite
the schools' acknowledgement of these fab-
rications, the U.S. News and World Report
rankings did not adjust for the inflated SAT
scores. In other words, falsified test scores
didn't reduce the ranking of these colleges.
This policy sets a precedent for administra-
tors that rewards dishonesty with status.
The U.S. News system also includes an
administrative rank. University officials rank
other schools based on academic reputation
on a scale of one to five, or "don't know" if the
administrator is unfamiliar with the institu-
tion. However, this academic reputation does
not necessarily correlate with a better educa-
tion. Ivy League schools, which usually top
the U.S. News list, have the benefit of name
recognition. Smaller and newer institutions,
regardless of their instructional quality, are
at a disadvantage when trying to improve
their own ranking. In this, way, such rank-
ings are often static, and don't capture lesser-
known schools accurately.
Though college rankings offer a conve-
nient measure to compare schools, such cal-
culations leave out several key factors, such
as atmosphere and community engagement,
while overemphasizing general spending
and reputation. Students and administrators
should exercise caution when taking these
numbers into account.
A pplying to college is a
stressful process, to say the
least. Applying to graduate
school - per-
haps even more
so. As students,
we do all that
we can to make
sure we have the.
the GPA, the test
scores, the extra- HARSHA
curriculars and NAHATA
the work expe-
rience. And just
when we think we've mastered the
application process, colleges throw
out another curveball.
Lately it seems to be race.
Over break I saw an article in
The New York Times claiming that
Asians may be "too smart for their
own good." Those who indicate
Asian as their ethnicity on their
applications may be at a disadvan-
tage when it comes to Ivy League
schools. Studies show that Amer-
ica's college-age Asian population
doubled between 1992 and 2011, but
the percentage of Asian Americans
enrolled at Harvard dropped by 50
percent simultaneously. In ,1992,
the Justice Department halted an
investigation accusing Harvard of
discriminating against Asians in
the application process.
During this time, Asians have
continued to make up 40 to 70
percent of the student population
at top public high schools. And a
2009 study of about 9,000 students
applying to highly selective univer-
sities showed that white students
were about three times as likely
to be admitted as Asians with the
This is a problem on many levels.
For one, the United States is largely
a meritocracy. The quintessential
American motto is that if you work
hard enough, you will be rewarded.
If students are working equally as
hard, it only logically follows that
they should be judged on the merit
of their applications.
But there's a bigger issue here. As
a society, we have come to associ-
ate race with academic ability andl
intellect. Race isn't a factor that4
inherently makes someone smarter
or more capable than another. Yes,
race may determine social, eco-
nomic, and cultural factors that can
impact ability and achievement.
But in that case it is those factors at
play, not race..
Which brings me to my next
point - being Asian doesn't make
you smart. We've all done it. We'vei
all seen someone that is Asian andj
classified them as a "genius." We'vei
walked into libraries full of Asiansi
and shook our heads at how roboti-i
cally they solve math and physics;
problems. We've groaned at the+
Asian kid in our classes that seemsi
to know every answer and always
throws off the curve. Even I have,+
and I identify myself as Asian.
But this is a huge misconception
- one that contributes to the ste-
reotyping and discrimination that+
we see. Asians aren't some natural+
super-species. The fact that they.
are Asian isn't what makes them
successful. They don't top academic
records because of some mysteri-
ous genetic advantage that comes
with being from India or China. It's
a horrific oversimplification of the
issue and an insult to the hard work
these individuals put in.
Statistics may.show that Asians
tend to do well academically -
that's true. But race is hardly the
main factor contributing to their
success. Many second-generation1
Asians' parents came from mea-
ger means, working against odds
to get a secondary or professional
education and the necessary paper-
work to immigrate to this country.
Those who made it were already;
the exception, and they continued
to embody a strong work ethic once
they arrived in the United States.+
My dad grew up in a remote vil-
lage in India, living with barely
enough to get by day to day. I'm
sure he never in his wildest dreams;
imagined being able to come to
America. It was his drive and hatd
work that allowed him to come here
and succeed. And coming from that
background, it's natural that he
expects the same from me.
That's the secret to Asians' suc-
cess. They learned early on that no
matter what the challenge, they
needed to give 110 percent of their
effort. And that's the drive and
ambition they impart to their kids.
We make this mistake at both
ends of the academic spectrum -
when dealing with those who are
underrepresented as well as over-
represented. Being black or His-
panic doesn't make you stupid. Yes,
it might make you less likely to be
in a social or economic setting that
allows you to go to and succeed in
college. It might also mean!grow-
ing up in a family environment that
places less emphasis on higher edu-
cation. But race itself doesn't define
ability. There are plenty of white
people and even Asian Americans
who grow up in poor socioeconomic
conditions and end up not going to
college or not excelling academically
- we just rarely hear about them.
to race is an
There's a huge psychological
problem with attributing success,
or lack thereof, to race. For the most
part, race is an aspect of one's iden-
tity that can't be changed. I can't
wake up one day and decide I don't
want to be Indian. But achievement
and success can be changed. They
can be cultivated, no matter what
race someone belongs to. Race is
often seen as an easy way for us to
classify things, but this simplifica-
tion often ignores the underlying
complexities that accompany any
situation or circumstance.
- Harsha Nahata can be
reached at email@example.com.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis,
Patrick Maillet, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski,
Paul Sherman, Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Gus Turner, Derek Wolfe
JOSH MOROF I
Affirming affirmative action
In a few months, the use of affirmative - out our lives today, and ignoring it now is
action in undergraduate college admissions ignoring the true issue at hand. We have
may become a thingof the past. Atleast, that's not yet achieved full equality for everyone.
a possible outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court Our laws today have done all they can do to
case Fisher v. University of Texas. Abigail ensure equal opportunities, but we are not
Fisher, a white student, claims that she was yet there. The path to equality begins with
denied admissions to the University of Texas, affirmative action.
which uses a race-conscious admission prac- I use the word "begin" because just
tice, solely because of her race. increasingthe amount of diversity on campus
The use of affirmative action in college does not by any means ensure the creation
admissions results in a number of well-known of mutual understanding and- respect. Rath-
and often misunderstood outcomes, including er, it's in our hands as current students and
the increase of diversity on campus. Equally future leaders to create equality.
qualified members of minority groups, who Affirmative action is the starting point, but
may seem less competitive as a result of socio- the only way to break down the barriers and
economic status, are given a better opportu- build a true community is through the utili-
nity to receive a college education. zation of intergroup dialogues on campus. In
Some opposed to affirmative action argue my hometown, I created an interfaith orga-
that colleges have enough diversity already. nization called Face to Faith, after realizing
However, when looking at schools, includ- that we were letting the differences on the
ing the University, it becomes evident that outside prevent us from seeing how similar
diversity will dissipate along with affirmative we all really are on the inside.
action. The only way to ensure the mainte- When we participate in programs like Face
nance of a diverse college community today is to Faith and take the time to ge'tto know those
by keeping affirmative action in place. who seem different than ourselves, we begin
Affirmative action is greatly useful to to realize just how alike we all are. The differ-
minority groups, but these students aren't ences that we once thought were so clear, the
the only ones who benefit from the policy. stereotypes that we believed to be true begin
According to the National Center for Institu- to disappear. The realization that we are all
tional Diversity, students who interact with more similar than we are different is some-
people of different races are far more pre- thing that we will carry with us outside the
pared to enter the global workforce. While boundaries of our college campuses. It will be
the communities that we hail from may not with us in everything that we do, and it is the
be diverse, the professional world is. Diver- only way that we can truly create a full equal-
sity fosters creativity, and students need to ity in our society.
be prepared for an increasingly diverse work- We did not create this injustice, but we
force, both here and abroad. have the power to solve it. However, if the
Fisher believes that colleges should be Supreme Court sides with Fisher, our hopes
colorblind in deciding whom to admit. How- of achieving equality in the near future may
ever, Fisher and those who support her are be lost along with affirmative action.
forgetting one thing: Our world is not color-_
blind. Race still plays a major role through- Josh Morof is an LSA freshman.
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HALEIGH GUERIN I ° 'C
Liberty and justice for all?
We have a right to life, liberty and alty cases. There is a large dispar- appeals to the court.
the pursuit of happiness. This harm- ity between ethnic minorities and Though the death penalty is not
less statement about fundamental white citizens who are subjected to practiced in the state of Michigan,
freedoms has become controver- the death penalty. Though African we shouldn't be satisfied until the
sial, especially in the case of "right Americans represent 13 percent of remaining 33 states abolish the use
to life." Many people associate this the United States population, they of the death penalty. The injustice
phrase with the abortion debate. make up an astounding 50 percent of of the death penalty is not found in
However, there's another aspect to the death row population. the laws, but in the culture. Positive
consider: capital punishment. Furthermore, the "eye-for-an- cultural change is needed in order
Although this issue is often pushed eye" justice of capital punishment to achieve equality and justice.
out of the spotlight, the death pen- is outdated and hypocritical. Why There is ,no simple solution to
alty is still relevant when taking into kill people who kill people to prove accomplish this goal. The quest for
account its discriminatory implica- that killing is wrong? While some equality is hundreds of years in the
tions. When considering the preju- say that anti-death penalty argu- making. However, decreasing the
diced cultural norms surrounding ments that focus on morality are disproportionate number of news-
the death penalty, we should work inadequate, Martin Luther King, casts about violence done by minor-
to abolish capital punishment on the Jr. asserted that "an unjust law is a ities is a step in the right direction.
basis of its immorality and injustice. code that is out ofharmony with the The publicity of minority criminals
First we must look at the root of moral law." In other words, moral- 'should reflect the real life percent-
the problem. Cultural standards ity and justice go hand in hand, so age. This will create a population
concerning ethnic minorities are an immoral law, such as the death that is more accurately informed
produced and disseminated through penalty, is unjust. and less prone to untrue stereo-
the media. Kelly Welch, an associate Even if one does not agree that types based on overblown numbers.
professor of criminal justice at Vil- the death penalty is immoral, one But first, we must acknowledge
lanova University, reports that black cannot ignore the facts. While peo- that this injustice exists. The over-
people are shown intelevision news- ple claim DNA tests can eliminate whelming presence of minorities on
casts as criminals 2.4 times more all uncertainty of a person's inno- death row must be questioned rather
often than whites. The prevalence cence, more than 130 people have than accepted as common sense.
of black criminals in media cements been released from death row due Racial disparities prevent capital
'the idea that minorities are more' to wrongful convictions since 1973. punishment from attaining so-called
violent and therefore more capable Another factor to consider is the justice: Ridding ourselves of this
of committing crimes that warrant financial aspect. California taxpay- practice will, truly grant everyone
the death penalty. ers pay $90,000 more per death a right to life and liberty and, most
Minority stereotypes in media row inmate than those in regular importantly, achieve justice for all.
are transferred into the legal system confinement, on account of the high
and affect the outcome of death pen- cost of legal representation and Haleigkh Guerin is an SLSA freshman.