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ERIC Number: ED536554
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 43
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The Salience of Racial Isolation: African Americans' and Latinos' Perceptions of Climate and Enrollment Choices with and without Proposition 209
Kidder, William C.
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
One of the important arguments by critics of affirmative action is that it actually hurts the students it is supposed to help by subjecting them to the "stigma" of being admitted under policies explicitly seeking campus diversity. Such students, this theory argues, must feel embarrassed and uncomfortable as a result and would prefer to be somewhere with color blind admissions. Therefore, the critics conclude, it would be better to have more Latino and black students go to less demanding schools with no affirmative action even though those schools have lower completion rates and far less success in placing students in the best professional schools and jobs. There are numerous assumptions buried within this argument, including the assumption that we have some fair way to measure "merit" even though test score selection means ignoring the clear impact of segregated and unequal communities and schools on students' test scores and opportunities to take strong college prep courses. Affirmative action supporters note that students admitted under diversity policies are chosen from a highly qualified pool and research shows they flourish both in college and in their professions and communities as leaders. If the critics were right, advocates of affirmative action would be unintentionally harming students of color. If they are wrong and affirmative action was rejected on that basis, those claiming to aid Latino and African American students would actually be seriously narrowing their opportunities. This paper says that they are wrong. This paper analyzes two very important dimensions of this debate. The first explores extensive survey data to determine whether black students feel better on University of California campuses, where there should be no stigma after 16 years of affirmative action bans. Since all consideration of race has been forbidden for a generation by the state constitution, the stigma theory would suggest that they would feel much more comfortable on campuses under race-blind policies. The second part of the study explores the proposition that black students should be more willing to come to excellent post-stigma campuses in the nation's leading public university system. This study uses unique data from surveys of the University of California campuses and from their enrollment statistics and compares them to the University of Texas at Austin campus and two other selective campuses, one private and one public (whose names are kept confidential at their request). (Contains 102 footnotes.) [Foreword by Gary Orfield.]
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles. 8370 Math Sciences, P.O. Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521. Tel: 310-267-5562; Fax: 310-206-6293; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of California, Los Angeles, Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
Identifiers - Location: California; Texas
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Proposition 209 (California 1996)