Hundreds of protesters, most of them students from the University of Wisconsin, forced their way into a Madison hotel and disrupted a press conference where local media were gathered to interview a representative from a conservative group calling itself the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO).
The CEO recently released two "studies" that allegedly...
...reveal severe discrimination based on race and ethnicity in undergraduate and law school admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with African Americans and Latinos given preference over whites and Asians.
Some of the best video of the confrontation is from Channel 15 in Madison, but I cannot embed it, so here is the link:
The representative from the CEO, Roger Clegg, was taking questions but he packed up his materials and left when the students made their way into the room where the press conference was being held.
Clegg was also scheduled to debate a University of Wisconsin professor on the issue tonight. The venue had to be changed to accommodate the large crowd of nearly 900 people, but the debate went on as scheduled. Clegg was booed by many in the audience when he was introduced.
The University issued a statement today. An excerpt follows:
When it comes to admissions, UW-Madison employs a holistic, competitive and selective process for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. That process takes into account a range of factors, including grades, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, leadership and written statements.
"Any student who is accepted at UW-Madison is here because he or she has the potential and the capacity to succeed," says UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward. "No matter what a student's class rank or test scores were, students who are accepted qualify for a spot at this university. No one is admitted solely because of race or ethnicity."
The University has not had time to formally review the studies, but one glaring error pointed to by some was the claim by the CEO that the UW admitted 72 percent of black applicants in 2008, while data posted on the University web site shows that only 41% of black applicants were admitted that year.
Another point that must be made is that the disparity in raw numbers is huge. In 2008, for example, the University received freshman applications from 773 African-American students and 17,869 white students.
For some reason, the CEO doesn't seem to have a problem with the societal issues those numbers reveal.
Finally, my unscientific observations from driving through the campus 5 days a week to go to the noon Solidarity Sing Along confirms that there are plenty of white and Asian people attending the UW Madison.
The lack of diversity is a touchy subject for the University. They have made a lot of efforts to attract people of all backgrounds. They have stumbled a few times along the way, but the claim of reverse discrimination against white and Asian students is not just ridiculous on its face, it's not even supported by the data.
Here's your test question: Why would a Virginia organization calling itself the Center for Equal Opportunity fudge the numbers to support a preconceived and erroneous conclusion about reverse racism in Wisconsin?