Proof that UCLA’s race-blind holistic review admissions is inadequate for campus diversity

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Earlier this week, The Daily Caller — a national conservative website — reported on the work of UCLA professor Tim Groseclose. Groseclose is a conservative-leaning professor of political science at UCLA, and he recently set out to prove a very specific and inflammatory charge: that UCLA’s post-Proposition 209 holistic review process was actually race-based. In a book called “Cheating: An Insider’s Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA“, Groseclose presents his data purporting to demonstrate widespread use of holistic review to make determinative decisions in favour of minority applicants to UCLA. The Daily Caller summarized Groseclose’s findings as follows:

[Groseclose claimed] that the research is proof that UCLA accepted more black students than if they had followed the law, which negatively impacted white and Asian applicants.

He claims that the racial preferences were used when the university would review applications that were marked for further consideration. In those instances, black applicants with incomes over $100,000 were around twice as likely to be accepted than white and Asian applicants with incomes of $30,000 with similar test scores.

Groseclose’s charges are pretty serious: he alleges that UCLA is violating state law. But, two things also make this article particularly interesting: 1) Groseclose made the full dataset he received from UCLA’s admissions departments available, and 2) he makes a testable hypothesis.

Groseclose’s book is not peer-reviewed and even before embarking on this analysis, I noted some incorrect statements made by the DailyCaller article. So, I took it upon myself this morning to download Groseclose’s dataset and test his central assertion — that UCLA’s holistic review process is covertly race-based affirmative action — myself. Sufficed to say, Groseclose’s conclusion did not hold up.

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