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Amy Wax: UPenn Law Controversy

westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
in Off-topic 3788 karma

Especially for those who plan to go or want to go to UPenn, what are your thoughts on the Amy Wax controversy? Amy Wax used to be a 1L professor who stated that African Americans rarely finish at the top half of her classes. She also made numerous other racist statements in the past as well.

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Comments

  • JPJ July2021JPJ July2021 Monthly Member
    1532 karma

    There's a fine line between being conservative and being racist and she crossed that line (more than once) in my opinion with her comments.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    I'm still waiting on a decision from Penn.

    However, I think that this incident stands in pretty sharp contrast to the Chicago Burke Society racism because the administration handled it fairly well. They didn't fire her because she is tenured. However, they corrected her faulty reasoning and inaccurate facts. Additionally, they stopped her from teaching mandatory 1L classes. Other professors from the school generally denounced her oped and statements. Finally, though the Federalist Society let her speak to them about efforts to silence dissent, almost all of the questions afterwards(well politely phrased) were critical of either her racist positions or her allegations that she was being unfairly silenced. It is good to know that the pro-free speech students on campus are not largely racist bigots.

    She was absolutely wrong about her premises. Penn Law stated that Black students have graduated at the top of the class, been on law review, and that their journals did not have diversity requirements and did have plenty of black students.

    Additionally, it seems she likely violated the blind exam grading common to all Top 14 schools. Either she made up that Black students didn't do well in her classes, knew who was who when grading her exams(inviting the possibility that she graded them poorly because they were black), or went back after grading in the hope that she could find out that the black students in her class were doing as poorly as she expected.

    Even aside from the racism in her oped, she is pushing a faulty idea about how predictive LSAT scores and LSAC GPA are of performance in law school. LSAT score has a correlation coefficient of about .3 with law school exams and GPA and LSAT together bump that up to just above .5. That leaves lots of room for individual less numerically qualified students to excel in law school(and for those with high numbers to do poorly), though on average they do worse. So since minority students often require lower LSAT scores and GPAs to get into the same law schools as their white peers, it is unreasonable to think that this means that none of them would graduate in the top quarter of their class over years or decades based on those scores and GPAs. The only thing that could cause that would be if the professors were bigots seeking to stop minorities from getting good grades which thankfully does not seem broadly true at Penn.

  • LSAT_WreckerLSAT_Wrecker Legacy Member
    4850 karma
    1. No interest in Penn nor 2. Any special knowledge of the topic besides a few news articles from a google search, but the question I did have was "How does she know the racial breakdown of her grades?" (as addressed above).
  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    3279 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:
    I'm still waiting on a decision from Penn.
    Additionally, it seems she likely violated the blind exam grading common to all Top 14 schools. Either she made up that Black students didn't do well in her classes, knew who was who when grading her exams(inviting the possibility that she graded them poorly because they were black), or went back after grading in the hope that she could find out that the black students in her class were doing as poorly as she expected.

    I don't think she made any violations during the grading process. At some schools, when the professor submits grades the registrar then reveals the names. That gives the professor a chance to bump grades.

    She violated the policy by sharing the grading trends with the public.

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    edited March 2018 3279 karma

    @LSAT_Wrecker said:
    1. No interest in Penn nor 2. Any special knowledge of the topic besides a few news articles from a google search, but the question I did have was "How does she know the racial breakdown of her grades?" (as addressed above).

    Once the grades and names are shared with her, she could find out the ethnicity of the student. My assumption is that she paired skin colours with ethnicity. Or she could have looked at the personal information the school keeps on file. Is one better than the other?

  • OverRatedUnderAchieverOverRatedUnderAchiever Legacy Member
    609 karma

    @westcoastbestcoast said:
    Especially for those who plan to go or want to go to UPenn, what are your thoughts on the Amy Wax controversy? Amy Wax used to be a 1L professor who stated that African Americans rarely finish at the top half of her classes. She also made numerous other racist statements in the past as well.

    Sounds like UPenn to me.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    UPenn has been officially crossed off my list

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @tringo335 said:
    UPenn has been officially crossed off my list

    I'm not entirely opposed to this and certainly have less warm feelings toward UPenn. But if they couldn't fire her because of tenure, then wouldn't we say UPenn pretty much handled this right?

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    3652 karma

    That UPenn TLS thread about how conservative it is, that racist professor, rats in the classrooms, and that time the heaters broke and everyone had to sit in 50* classrooms (does this happen frequently?) really did scare me. It might have just been fearmongering but if all other factors are equal and I had to decide between schools, I wouldn’t go to UPenn. Not sure how comfortable I would feel there

  • JPJ July2021JPJ July2021 Monthly Member
    1532 karma

    @"surfy surf" I would much rather go to one of their peer schools, UVA or Michigan. The overall atmosphere seems better there.

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    3652 karma

    @Emily2122 said:
    @"surfy surf" I would much rather go to one of their peer schools, UVA or Michigan. The overall atmosphere seems better there.

    Something else I just remembered about UPenn is the location? It sounds like when talking about housing the school warns you “don’t live past ___ street bc it’s dangerous there.” And that is also a good reason not to go there. I wouldn’t wanna be stuck in a bubble on campus.

  • JPJ July2021JPJ July2021 Monthly Member
    1532 karma

    @"surfy surf" I didn't know that! I plan on blanketing the T14 when I apply next year but I honestly think I'm going to leave UPenn off my list. I'm are there are amazing things about the school but going there does not excite me at all. I'm much more excited about other schools.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    I wonder if the peer assesment score, which factors into the US News rankings, will decrease becauase of this controversy

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    I honestly don’t know how much this particular controversy should factor into considerations of which law school to attend. Wax was clearly out of her disciplinary depth with the article she co-authored—I don’t think that that particular point is really contestable. In fact, I would go so far as to say laughably out of her depth. And the African American grades comment is offensive and disheartening as well, because, even granting the past numbers as in fact true, possible (racist) motivations behind mentioning them are too salient to ignore.

    At the same time, unless I am to think that professor wax violates blind grading practices, or else has found some way of reliably identifying minority students on finals in order to single them out for lower grades (not impossible to conceive, but still dubious), I’m not sure about the extent to which Wax alone should affect law school deliberations.

    Of course, it might be said that she is a microcosm of larger issues at Penn, and that might well be but (if I got in) I would try to view prof wax in the overall context of UPenn instead of viewing UPenn in the context of Wax, so to speak.

  • TheLSATerTheLSATer Legacy Member
    137 karma

    @acsimon said:
    I honestly don’t know how much this particular controversy should factor into considerations of which law school to attend. Wax was clearly out of her disciplinary depth with the article she co-authored—I don’t think that that particular point is really contestable. In fact, I would go so far as to say laughably out of her depth. And the African American grades comment is offensive and disheartening as well, because, even granting the past numbers as in fact true, possible (racist) motivations behind mentioning them are too salient to ignore.

    At the same time, unless I am to think that professor wax violates blind grading practices, or else has found some way of reliably identifying minority students on finals in order to single them out for lower grades (not impossible to conceive, but still dubious), I’m not sure about the extent to which Wax alone should affect law school deliberations.

    Of course, it might be said that she is a microcosm of larger issues at Penn, and that might well be but (if I got in) I would try to view prof wax in the overall context of UPenn instead of viewing UPenn in the context of Wax, so to speak.

    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing. This situation is not unique to law school and this personally would not deter me from attending a school. Ranking, scholarships, and job opportunities are more important to me. Unfortunately there are some people who will always judge others based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Not doing something, (you would otherwise do) because of these people, gives them too much power. Best of luck to everyone who is still waiting to hear back from school:)

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:
    UPenn has been officially crossed off my list

    I'm not entirely opposed to this and certainly have less warm feelings toward UPenn. But if they couldn't fire her because of tenure, then wouldn't we say UPenn pretty much handled this right?

    According to the AAUP (American Association of University Professors), Tenure was never established as a 'guarantee of lifetime employment. Rather, tenure provides that no person continuously retained as a full time faculty member [...] may be dismissed without cause." (https://www.aaup.org/issues/appointments-promotions-discipline/termination-discipline-2004) The keywords here are 'without cause.' And I'm sure we can all agree that racism against minority students is just cause.

    There are several examples of professors having their tenure revoked. It is rare but it certainly does happen.

    Futhermore, the Dean's comment on Free Speech as an excuse for racism is unacceptable. The Founding Fathers did not create free speech so racists can demoralize an entire group of people.

    Free peech no longer becomes free speech when it harms other citizens. As a professor who has control over students grades, futures and well beings, racist thoughts and beliefs should never be tolerated.

    How UPenn decided to handle the situation is why it's a no brainer for me to not think twice about putting an application in. There are too many other excellent schools to spend one's time applying to.

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    3279 karma

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @10000019 said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

    https://media0.giphy.com/media/wMvESGxZ0Cqd2/giphy.gif

    "It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: (B)lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate." - Dean Ted Ruger, University of Pennsylvania Law School

    This is why racism should. not. be. tolerated. Because people start to believe non-facts that come out of professor's mouths.

  • J.CHRIS.ALSTJ.CHRIS.ALST Alum Member
    edited March 2018 394 karma

    @10000019 said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

    I think the issue here is that it is not true and there is evidence to support that it is false. From what I can tell just by reading this thread, she made an offhand, overgeneralized comment that had no backing to it, which turned out to be wrong, and ultimately revealed what is very likely to be prejudice.

    If she had noticed an empirical trend based on statistics, then maybe there would be room to suggest that something bigger was at play here. In that case, she'd almost have a duty to bring it to the attention of her superiors (imo). But, that is a moot point because that doesn't seem to be what happened.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    edited March 2018 1263 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @10000019 said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

    https://media0.giphy.com/media/wMvESGxZ0Cqd2/giphy.gif

    "It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: (B)lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate." - Dean Ted Ruger, University of Pennsylvania Law School

    This is why racism should. not. be. tolerated. Because people start to believe non-facts that come out of professor's mouths.

    I actually think that the dean’s words were reported in a misleading way—he was saying that both of those claims (of Wax’s) were false. He was not saying that their opposites were false. It seems like you took him to be agreeing with Wax, and if so, I just wanted to say that it looks like it’s just unfortunate (ambiguous) prose.

    Also, what if Wax were actually correct in both claims? It doesn’t seem to me that it would somehow warrant her even raising an issue unless she were motivated by more unsavory intentions.—That type of statement gives off the impression that you believe that racial membership has some sort of deep explanatory purchase on accounting for how things are (grade performance and so on). Now that is “racist” in a rather estoteric sense—you believe that race itself explains actual behavior and capabilities instead of, at best, being a rough and ready proxy for them (because of covariance with other more explanatory properties—eg, socioeconomic status, educational attainment of parents). It is also, in this case, racist in the more everyday sense of suggesting that black students are inherently more incapable than other groups, thus playing off age old stereotypes about AAs.

    Wax is not the first person to make such suggestions within academia, and almost surely won’t be the last. One of the interesting questions to chew on is why otherwise intelligent people would flout such conjectures in public. I think here, and elsewhere, there are material pressures to do so. But this is not the place to wax sociological (sorry!), so I won’t. I’ll just repeat my position that I don’t think that Wax specifically should figure prominently deliberations about whether or not to attend UPenn.—A.c.S

  • brigittebrigitte Member
    427 karma

    I agree that Amy Wax's comments were not appropriate and she clearly seems to harbor racist feelings. However, I don't know if what she said is actually false. In fact, there has been research done on the issue, not specific to Penn, but to law schools generally. Some of the older people here may recall the controversy of Richard Sander's "mismatch theory" in the mid 2000s. Apparently he cited to research that has been accepted even by opponents of Sanders' thesis: https://ianayres.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/AyresBrooksResponse.pdf

    I don't want to get into the actual details, which you can read about in the beginning of the paper in the link. There is apparently even LSAC research on this issue. It actually makes what Wax said plausible and maybe even likely to be true. In any case, what's important is that it doesn't determine any individual's performance and that everyone who is struggling should try to do whatever they can to succeed - all the more reason to do law school prep before starting law school.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    edited March 2018 1263 karma

    @anonclsstudent said:
    I agree that Amy Wax's comments were not appropriate and she clearly seems to harbor racist feelings. However, I don't know if what she said is actually false. In fact, there has been research done on the issue, not specific to Penn, but to law schools generally. Some of the older people here may recall the controversy of Richard Sander's "mismatch theory" in the mid 2000s. Apparently he cited to research that has been accepted even by opponents of Sanders' thesis: https://ianayres.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/AyresBrooksResponse.pdf

    I don't want to get into the actual details, which you can read about in the beginning of the paper in the link. There is apparently even LSAC research on this issue. It actually makes what Wax said plausible and maybe even likely to be true. In any case, what's important is that it doesn't determine any individual's performance and that everyone who is struggling should try to do whatever they can to succeed - all the more reason to do law school prep before starting law school.

    She might be correct, but, from an armchair, I seriously doubt she could have been right about the claim that it’s very rare to be in the top half. In any case, even if she was correct, the question is what conclusion to draw from it. Certainly not that some of her students shouldn’t attend law school. That would assume that unless one is better than average at one of the top law schools in the country, one should not be attending law school at all. My response would be that she shouldn’t sell UPenn so short.

    Btw, there quite a bit of distance between the position defended in the article and Wax’s claims. Remember, her claims—even when restricting their domain to all of the students that she’s had in her career—are quite strong: no black students in the top quarter and a paucity in the top half (I ignore the Law review claim). Quite a bit weaker is the claim that 42% of black students have a 50% chance (or less) of becoming lawyers.

  • brigittebrigitte Member
    427 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @anonclsstudent said:
    I agree that Amy Wax's comments were not appropriate and she clearly seems to harbor racist feelings. However, I don't know if what she said is actually false. In fact, there has been research done on the issue, not specific to Penn, but to law schools generally. Some of the older people here may recall the controversy of Richard Sander's "mismatch theory" in the mid 2000s. Apparently he cited to research that has been accepted even by opponents of Sanders' thesis: https://ianayres.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/AyresBrooksResponse.pdf

    I don't want to get into the actual details, which you can read about in the beginning of the paper in the link. There is apparently even LSAC research on this issue. It actually makes what Wax said plausible and maybe even likely to be true. In any case, what's important is that it doesn't determine any individual's performance and that everyone who is struggling should try to do whatever they can to succeed - all the more reason to do law school prep before starting law school.

    She might be correct, but, from an armchair, I seriously doubt she could have been right about the claim that it’s very rare to be in the top half. In any case, even if she was correct, the question is what conclusion to draw from it. Certainly not that some of her students shouldn’t attend law school. That would assume that unless one is better than average at one of the top law schools in the country, one should not be attending law school at all. My response would be that she shouldn’t sell UPenn so short.

    Btw, there quite a bit of distance between the position defended in the article and Wax’s claims. Remember, her claims—even when restricting their domain to all of the students that she’s had in her career—are quite strong: no black students in the top quarter and a paucity in the top half (I ignore the Law review claim).

    I agree what she said is more extreme; probably there have been more than 0 black law students at Penn in the top quarter. But if the statistics at Penn are similar to the statistics about law schools generally, it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that it's rare for black law students to graduate above median. Obviously "rare" is subjective. But if black law student gpa is at the 6.7 percentile of white law student gpa, the % of black law students who are above median must be very small, right? Assuming that the distribution is similar to a normal distribution and not unusually flat or skewed

  • brigittebrigitte Member
    427 karma

    @anonclsstudent said:

    @acsimon said:

    @anonclsstudent said:
    I agree that Amy Wax's comments were not appropriate and she clearly seems to harbor racist feelings. However, I don't know if what she said is actually false. In fact, there has been research done on the issue, not specific to Penn, but to law schools generally. Some of the older people here may recall the controversy of Richard Sander's "mismatch theory" in the mid 2000s. Apparently he cited to research that has been accepted even by opponents of Sanders' thesis: https://ianayres.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/AyresBrooksResponse.pdf

    I don't want to get into the actual details, which you can read about in the beginning of the paper in the link. There is apparently even LSAC research on this issue. It actually makes what Wax said plausible and maybe even likely to be true. In any case, what's important is that it doesn't determine any individual's performance and that everyone who is struggling should try to do whatever they can to succeed - all the more reason to do law school prep before starting law school.

    She might be correct, but, from an armchair, I seriously doubt she could have been right about the claim that it’s very rare to be in the top half. In any case, even if she was correct, the question is what conclusion to draw from it. Certainly not that some of her students shouldn’t attend law school. That would assume that unless one is better than average at one of the top law schools in the country, one should not be attending law school at all. My response would be that she shouldn’t sell UPenn so short.

    Btw, there quite a bit of distance between the position defended in the article and Wax’s claims. Remember, her claims—even when restricting their domain to all of the students that she’s had in her career—are quite strong: no black students in the top quarter and a paucity in the top half (I ignore the Law review claim).

    I agree what she said is more extreme; probably there have been more than 0 black law students at Penn in the top quarter. But if the statistics at Penn are similar to the statistics about law schools generally, it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that it's rare for black law students to graduate above median. Obviously "rare" is subjective. But if black law student gpa is at the 6.7 percentile of white law student gpa, the % of black law students who are above median must be very small, right? Assuming that the distribution is similar to a normal distribution and not unusually flat or skewed

    EXTRA POST: Sorry, I should have read more carefully. The paper actually reports this more helpful stat: "only 7.5% of blacks have grades that are higher than the white median". Given that the overall median is probably a little bit below the white median (because the overall median is based on whites + blacks + others), that does suggest the % of black students above the overall median is more like ~10%. Rough numbers, but does that make sense? Is that "rare"?

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    It obviously depends on the relative grade distributions (and relative sizes) of the other demographics, but even if you settle on 10 percent for the sake of argument, I wouldn’t think that was particularly “rare”. Rare is might be the amount of blacks per cycle that score 175 or better on the LSAT, or the amount of students who end up as Law professors at a T-14. And I think this is the force that Wax intends to convey as well.

    But that’s just speculation. Honestly, I don’t see why even saying what Wax does is relevant unless you have untoward motivations, but I guess I take a dim view to arguments that AA (especially as used in admissions) actually hurts blacks in this particular area. By “dim”, I mean that all that I’ve seen spun in this domain (i.e., law) have struck me as implausible in the extreme.

    On top of this, there’s something precious about Wax’s phrasing.—terms like “rare” are suggestive, but their force can be (im)plausibly denied when they are shown to be false. In this case, she can just say that she was remarking on the fact that 10% of blacks score at or above the median (this is granted for the sake of argument). But use such loose phrasing is nothing new.

    Again, I’m not quite sure what her motivation could be for wanting to take up this issue—especially given that she relies on anecdote and intuition—that didn’t have the problematic features people have been attributing to her. This is is only magnified given the position she seems to support (less blacks should attend law school) in the face of other alternatives (dedication of more supportive resources available to all students with respect to testing, writing, etc. relevant to success in law school).

    Of course, this comes within the context of a larger discussion of affirmative action and the best ways to combat the lingering affects of various isms, a debate whose correct outcome is non-obvious. Unfortunately, I don’t think people like Wax help push in forward very much (as in, “at all”).—A.c.S

  • LSAT_WreckerLSAT_Wrecker Legacy Member
    4850 karma

    Is a more relevant point to this conversation, at least to the OP's question, whether or not the entirety of UPenn law school should be painted with the same brush some are using to paint Wax? Is this a case of systemic, organizational wide bias / racism or is it just one outlier that is getting a lot of attention / media right now? It might be easy to cast off the whole school, but is it fair or reasonable to do so? Are we facing a part vs whole flaw or do people here think UPenn is itself as at fault as some find Wax?

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @LSAT_Wrecker said:
    Is a more relevant point to this conversation, at least to the OP's question, whether or not the entirety of UPenn law school should be painted with the same brush some are using to paint Wax? Is this a case of systemic, organizational wide bias / racism or is it just one outlier that is getting a lot of attention / media right now? It might be easy to cast off the whole school, but is it fair or reasonable to do so? Are we facing a part vs whole flaw or do people here think UPenn is itself as at fault as some find Wax?

    Yeah, my first point was just that I wouldn’t judge UPenn on the basis of Wax. One would just be selling UPenn, not to mention oneself, short in doing so.—A.c.S

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    edited March 2018 3679 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @10000019 said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

    https://media0.giphy.com/media/wMvESGxZ0Cqd2/giphy.gif

    "It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: (B)lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate." - Dean Ted Ruger, University of Pennsylvania Law School

    This is why racism should. not. be. tolerated. Because people start to believe non-facts that come out of professor's mouths.

    I actually think that the dean’s words were reported in a misleading way—he was saying that both of those claims (of Wax’s) were false. He was not saying that their opposites were false. It seems like you took him to be agreeing with Wax, and if so, I just wanted to say that it looks like it’s just unfortunate (ambiguous) prose.

    Also, what if Wax were actually correct in both claims? It doesn’t seem to me that it would somehow warrant her even raising an issue unless she were motivated by more unsavory intentions.—That type of statement gives off the impression that you believe that racial membership has some sort of deep explanatory purchase on accounting for how things are (grade performance and so on). Now that is “racist” in a rather estoteric sense—you believe that race itself explains actual behavior and capabilities instead of, at best, being a rough and ready proxy for them (because of covariance with other more explanatory properties—eg, socioeconomic status, educational attainment of parents). It is also, in this case, racist in the more everyday sense of suggesting that black students are inherently more incapable than other groups, thus playing off age old stereotypes about AAs.

    Wax is not the first person to make such suggestions within academia, and almost surely won’t be the last. One of the interesting questions to chew on is why otherwise intelligent people would flout such conjectures in public. I think here, and elsewhere, there are material pressures to do so. But this is not the place to wax sociological (sorry!), so I won’t. I’ll just repeat my position that I don’t think that Wax specifically should figure prominently deliberations about whether or not to attend UPenn.—A.c.S

    I do not believe the dean was agreeing with Wax. He obviously wasn’t. My post was in response to someone who wondered if Wax’s statements were correct which they obviously aren’t and the deans statement helps to prove it.

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    edited March 2018 3279 karma

    For the record, when I said "what if it is true?" I wasn't attempting to refer to her exact claims. I was referring to the general sentiment that one group is performing well below the average. I don't think the Dean's remarks refuted that. The performance of an unknown number of students from a group isn't indicative of how that group does on average.

    I speculated that if the admissions criteria for a group is lower, then that would be correlated with that group performing, on average, below their peers. The research that another user shared confirms that, on average, that is the case.

    I don't think this is something that should be pushed aside. If schools are going to admit students, they should be doing more to help those students succeed. I don't think any gender or ethnicity is inherently better suited for law school. I do suspect that, on average, some groups come into law school with an upper hand. Law school is already a time crunch. Expecting a student to make up for that gap when classes start isn't reasonable.

    My initial post was slightly off-topic. I posted because I think quickly dismissing Wax's comments is counter productive.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    edited March 2018 1263 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @10000019 said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    Couldn't have said it better. As a woman of color, I find it counterproductive give too much attention to this kind of thing.

    But what if it is true? I have no idea because schools don't publish that data. But if GPA and LSAT scores are predictive of law school success, I would assume that the average URM student performs at a lower level than their peers. I don't think that should be ignored. If that's the case, then schools should be proactive in helping disadvantaged students succeed.

    https://media0.giphy.com/media/wMvESGxZ0Cqd2/giphy.gif

    "It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: (B)lack students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate." - Dean Ted Ruger, University of Pennsylvania Law School

    This is why racism should. not. be. tolerated. Because people start to believe non-facts that come out of professor's mouths.

    I actually think that the dean’s words were reported in a misleading way—he was saying that both of those claims (of Wax’s) were false. He was not saying that their opposites were false. It seems like you took him to be agreeing with Wax, and if so, I just wanted to say that it looks like it’s just unfortunate (ambiguous) prose.

    Also, what if Wax were actually correct in both claims? It doesn’t seem to me that it would somehow warrant her even raising an issue unless she were motivated by more unsavory intentions.—That type of statement gives off the impression that you believe that racial membership has some sort of deep explanatory purchase on accounting for how things are (grade performance and so on). Now that is “racist” in a rather estoteric sense—you believe that race itself explains actual behavior and capabilities instead of, at best, being a rough and ready proxy for them (because of covariance with other more explanatory properties—eg, socioeconomic status, educational attainment of parents). It is also, in this case, racist in the more everyday sense of suggesting that black students are inherently more incapable than other groups, thus playing off age old stereotypes about AAs.

    Wax is not the first person to make such suggestions within academia, and almost surely won’t be the last. One of the interesting questions to chew on is why otherwise intelligent people would flout such conjectures in public. I think here, and elsewhere, there are material pressures to do so. But this is not the place to wax sociological (sorry!), so I won’t. I’ll just repeat my position that I don’t think that Wax specifically should figure prominently deliberations about whether or not to attend UPenn.—A.c.S

    I do not believe the dean was agreeing with Wax. He obviously wasn’t. My post was in response to someone who wondered if Wax’s statements were correct which they obviously aren’t and the deans statement helps to prove it.

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    @10000019 said:
    For the record, when I said "what if it is true?" I wasn't attempting to refer to her exact claims. I was referring to the general sentiment that one group is performing well below the average. I don't think the Dean's remarks refuted that. The performance of an unknown number of students from a group isn't indicative of how that group does on average.

    I speculated that if the admissions criteria for a group is lower, then that would be correlated with that group performing, on average, below their peers. The research that another user shared confirms that, on average, that is the case.

    I don't think this is something that should be pushed aside. If schools are going to admit students, they should be doing more to help those students succeed. I don't think any gender or ethnicity is inherently better suited for law school. I do suspect that, on average, some groups come into law school with an upper hand. Law school is already a time crunch. Expecting a student to make up for that gap when classes start isn't reasonable.

    My initial post was slightly off-topic. I posted because I think quickly dismissing Wax's comments is counter productive.

    That might well be. But I wouldn’t be too worried about the claims themselves—even though I take them to be highly dubious on their face (but it’s, in the end, an empirical question as to whether they are and none of us have access to the relevant data; I wouldn’t think that she does either). What is more alarming is the apparent conclusions drawn from this; I would think that disparities like the ones mentioned would warrant a response like the one you suggest rather than what professor Wax appeared to suggest.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:
    UPenn has been officially crossed off my list

    I'm not entirely opposed to this and certainly have less warm feelings toward UPenn. But if they couldn't fire her because of tenure, then wouldn't we say UPenn pretty much handled this right?

    According to the AAUP (American Association of University Professors), Tenure was never established as a 'guarantee of lifetime employment. Rather, tenure provides that no person continuously retained as a full time faculty member [...] may be dismissed without cause." (https://www.aaup.org/issues/appointments-promotions-discipline/termination-discipline-2004) The keywords here are 'without cause.' And I'm sure we can all agree that racism against minority students is just cause.

    There are several examples of professors having their tenure revoked. It is rare but it certainly does happen.

    Futhermore, the Dean's comment on Free Speech as an excuse for racism is unacceptable. The Founding Fathers did not create free speech so racists can demoralize an entire group of people.

    Free peech no longer becomes free speech when it harms other citizens. As a professor who has control over students grades, futures and well beings, racist thoughts and beliefs should never be tolerated.

    How UPenn decided to handle the situation is why it's a no brainer for me to not think twice about putting an application in. There are too many other excellent schools to spend one's time applying to.

    That sounds about right to me. I guess it would make sense that even tenured profs can be fired. In that case, you are right that UPenn is not doing all that it can or should.

    I'm not sure specifically what the Dean said about free speech, but usually racist speech(even hate speech unless it incites violence) is protected by the first amendment. That just means we can't stop her from going out and saying racist things by arresting her. UPenn should still fire her for them.

    Yes, she is free to be a racist and say racist things, but not to be a racist professor. A student of color couldn't reasonably feel comfortable asking for her letter of rec or going to office hours.

    I'm not going to withdraw my apps, but I will not be attending UPenn or UChicago next year. I'll still try to use either schools offers to leverage up merit aid offers from schools which I want to attend, but at this point (unknown to them) accepting me is just a way to make their yield(people who accept divided by people offerred) lower and offering me a scholarship is just a way to tie up resources that could be used to attract other students for a few months.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    ...? But that’s not the topic being discussed.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    edited March 2018 3679 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attend UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    ...? But that’s not the topic being discussed.

    There were those on this thread who were indeed discussing it. The overall post was asking the reaction to the UPenn scandal. I'm not sure why individuals would bring up stats on African Americans specfically during law school and debate whether or not Blacks are smart enough to score in the top of their classes. But again, they should carry on with their debate if they can't help themselves...

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Either you misread my post or it was unclear. I won't attend Penn if accepted. I think it's still worth not withdrawing for the potential scholarship leverage over other schools.

    Other than that we are on the same page.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Now I'm confused. Who said that they'd attend UPenn law if accepted? Didn't @"Seeking Perfection" state that he (she?) wouldn't attend (the same for Chicago), even with applications out to both? The only claim I saw here is that people (including myself) would judge UPenn holistically and not on the basis of Wax.

    As for the modal claim about what blacks "can" do, I wouldn't have even engaged in discussion on here if I interpreted someone as actually floating that claim. Obviously, you're well on your way to bigotry once you start trafficking in such claims (em, as in the general "you"). The idea I took people to be considering was whether, as a matter of fact, blacks haven't done [fill in the blank about academic achievement at UPenn]. That's an empirical claim--one that I seriously doubt when filled in as Wax filled it in, but it may very well be true. I just don't have access to the numbers to say definitively one way or the other (and I doubt that she did either). I just thought it was interesting to think about what one should say if one granted such empirical claims to Wax. It doesn't seem to me that what one should say is anything close to what Wax has said. I'm honestly most surprised that the interviewer (Glenn Loury) seemed to agree almost all of what she put out there.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Either you misread my post or it was unclear. I won't attend Penn if accepted. I think it's still worth not withdrawing for the potential scholarship leverage over other schools.

    Other than that we are on the same page.

    Ah I see; apologies. I misread.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Now I'm confused. Who said that they'd attend UPenn law if accepted? Didn't @"Seeking Perfection" state that he (she?) wouldn't attend (the same for Chicago), even with applications out to both? The only claim I saw here is that people (including myself) would judge UPenn holistically and not on the basis of Wax.

    As for the modal claim about what blacks "can" do, I wouldn't have even engaged in discussion on here if I interpreted someone as actually floating that claim. Obviously, you're well on your way to bigotry once you start trafficking in such claims (em, as in the general "you"). The idea I took people to be considering was whether, as a matter of fact, blacks haven't done [fill in the blank about academic achievement at UPenn]. That's an empirical claim--one that I seriously doubt when filled in as Wax filled it in, but it may very well be true. I just don't have access to the numbers to say definitively one way or the other (and I doubt that she did either). I just thought it was interesting to think about what one should say if one granted such empirical claims to Wax. It doesn't seem to me that what one should say is anything close to what Wax has said. I'm honestly most surprised that the interviewer (Glenn Loury) seemed to agree almost all of what she put out there.

    Thankfully, it had been definitively answered by the Dean of Penn Law though. So there really is no question that many African Americans have placed in the top quarter of the class at Penn Law and many more in the top half. Continuing to act like this is an open question or accepting Wax's premises for the sake of argument doesn't make sense when you know they are false.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Now I'm confused. Who said that they'd attend UPenn law if accepted? Didn't @"Seeking Perfection" state that he (she?) wouldn't attend (the same for Chicago), even with applications out to both? The only claim I saw here is that people (including myself) would judge UPenn holistically and not on the basis of Wax.

    As for the modal claim about what blacks "can" do, I wouldn't have even engaged in discussion on here if I interpreted someone as actually floating that claim. Obviously, you're well on your way to bigotry once you start trafficking in such claims (em, as in the general "you"). The idea I took people to be considering was whether, as a matter of fact, blacks haven't done [fill in the blank about academic achievement at UPenn]. That's an empirical claim--one that I seriously doubt when filled in as Wax filled it in, but it may very well be true. I just don't have access to the numbers to say definitively one way or the other (and I doubt that she did either). I just thought it was interesting to think about what one should say if one granted such empirical claims to Wax. It doesn't seem to me that what one should say is anything close to what Wax has said. I'm honestly most surprised that the interviewer (Glenn Loury) seemed to agree almost all of what she put out there.

    Thankfully, it had been definitively answered by the Dean of Penn Law though. So there really is no question that many African Americans have placed in the top quarter of the class at Penn Law and many more in the top half. Continuing to act like this is an open question or accepting Wax's premises for the sake of argument doesn't make sense when you know they are false.

    Two things. Just because the dean said that in a statement doesn't mean its true. Unfortunately, in today's climate, public statements cannot just be taken on faith, even if they are one's in which one wants to believe.--I happen to believe the dean's statement though, and took up the question from the position of someone who might have been more skeptical of the epistemic value of those comments.

    The second point is that the discussion doesn't have to do with Wax, per se. One can imagine circumstances where such comments are made and they have more merit to them as far as empirical support. In such conceivable circumstances, I think that it is important to question any Wax-like conclusions which might be drawn from it. I entertained the hypothetical with that in mind.

  • TheLSATerTheLSATer Legacy Member
    137 karma

    This thread is very bothersome. I thought this was a community to uplift and encourage each other.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @TheLSATer said:
    This thread is very bothersome. I thought this was a community to uplift and encourage each other.

    I don't know if anything that has been said is incompatible with these aims. As far as the delicate subject-matter, I take people to have been pretty non-hostile to be honest. I think people were just trying to articulate their respective views about how the Wax scandal affects/should affect law school deliberations (this involved a good deal more than just that question, but that's the way these things go). Were it negative, I probably would have let the discussion be and it probably would have been locked out already (I think 7sage generally does this, no?).

    Granted, the discussion is tiresome in a way, given its trigger; but, alas, the dynamics of social media! Luckily most posts on here are about smaller, immediate issues regarding the LSAT and admissions. A saving grace--A.c.S

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @TheLSATer said:
    This thread is very bothersome. I thought this was a community to uplift and encourage each other.

    I agree. Some of the comments made on this thread about African Americans and the suggestion that Wax was correct shocked and disheartened me.

  • AspiringAspiring Member
    edited March 2018 14 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @TheLSATer said:
    This thread is very bothersome. I thought this was a community to uplift and encourage each other.

    I don't know if anything that has been said is incompatible with these aims. As far as the delicate subject-matter, I take people to have been pretty non-hostile to be honest. I think people were just trying to articulate their respective views about how the Wax scandal affects/should affect law school deliberations (this involved a good deal more than just that question, but that's the way these things go). Were it negative, I probably would have let the discussion be and it probably would have been locked out already (I think 7sage generally does this, no?).

    Granted, the discussion is tiresome in a way, given its trigger; but, alas, the dynamics of social media! Luckily most posts on here are about smaller, immediate issues regarding the LSAT and admissions. A saving grace--A.c.S

    Admin note: edited (the comment reveals personal information without consent)

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @acsimon said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Now I'm confused. Who said that they'd attend UPenn law if accepted? Didn't @"Seeking Perfection" state that he (she?) wouldn't attend (the same for Chicago), even with applications out to both? The only claim I saw here is that people (including myself) would judge UPenn holistically and not on the basis of Wax.

    As for the modal claim about what blacks "can" do, I wouldn't have even engaged in discussion on here if I interpreted someone as actually floating that claim. Obviously, you're well on your way to bigotry once you start trafficking in such claims (em, as in the general "you"). The idea I took people to be considering was whether, as a matter of fact, blacks haven't done [fill in the blank about academic achievement at UPenn]. That's an empirical claim--one that I seriously doubt when filled in as Wax filled it in, but it may very well be true. I just don't have access to the numbers to say definitively one way or the other (and I doubt that she did either). I just thought it was interesting to think about what one should say if one granted such empirical claims to Wax. It doesn't seem to me that what one should say is anything close to what Wax has said. I'm honestly most surprised that the interviewer (Glenn Loury) seemed to agree almost all of what she put out there.

    Thankfully, it had been definitively answered by the Dean of Penn Law though. So there really is no question that many African Americans have placed in the top quarter of the class at Penn Law and many more in the top half. Continuing to act like this is an open question or accepting Wax's premises for the sake of argument doesn't make sense when you know they are false.

    Two things. Just because the dean said that in a statement doesn't mean its true. Unfortunately, in today's climate, public statements cannot just be taken on faith, even if they are one's in which one wants to believe.--I happen to believe the dean's statement though, and took up the question from the position of someone who might have been more skeptical of the epistemic value of those comments.

    The second point is that the discussion doesn't have to do with Wax, per se. One can imagine circumstances where such comments are made and they have more merit to them as far as empirical support. In such conceivable circumstances, I think that it is important to question any Wax-like conclusions which might be drawn from it. I entertained the hypothetical with that in mind.

    First of all, the Dean really couldn't have easilly been lying. Doing so would run the risk of others who know the truth correcting him. The circle of people who know something of the grade distribution at Penn is probably fairly small, but far bigger than it might seem at first glance. Other administrators know. However, so do employers. If there are employers who have interviewed hundereds of people from the top of Penn's class and none of them were Black, they could reveal the Dean if he was lying. He would obviously be hesitant to generate the kind of huge negative publicity such a revealed lie would bring. Additionally, things like the fact that the law review is not selected based on race (Wax claimed it was) and thus that the Black members of Penn's Law Review over the years have probably nearly universally either done very well in Penn or done very well on the write-in competition would be even harder to make up. There are probably at least several if not dozens of different Penn Law students making those decisions about law review members every year who would know if race were a factor being used. Since it isn't and Black students have been on it, we know Black students sometimes do very well at Penn in terms of 1L grades.

    Additionally, I do not think that imagining a hypothetical world where Wax is right would do any good. First of all, such a world would need a number of things resolved. The first thing would be how could Black students at Penn end up never making the top quarter of their class and only rarely be making the top half. LSAT scores and GPA could not explain that result because people with low LSAT scores and GPAs compared to their peers regularly end up getting good grades because those two variables combined only explain about 25 percent of the variation in first year grades. The answer to how Black students could be so unlikely to get top grades in your hypothetical would have to be an astonishing degree of racism in grading of exams. But of course since this isn't real it doesn't make sense for anyone to boycott Penn over their endemic racist grading policies. Instead, we should probably stick with a consideration of what to do in response to the actual problem that Penn is employing a racist professor who makes up negative claims about Black students at Penn in order to bolster racist internet trolls arguments that Blacks should be kept out of law schools for their own good.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @Aspiring

    Whatever your motives, don't out people. Ask in a message if you have to ask.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:
    @Aspiring

    Whatever your motives, don't out people. Ask in a message if you have to ask.

    Agreed. Let's stay on topic.

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1263 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @acsimon said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @acsimon said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @tringo335 said:

    @acsimon said:

    Yeah, then I was just mistaken in my interpretation. That was my other hypothesis, but I just didn’t know to whom you might be referring (someone specific, or just a general claim about who might be impressionable) if not the dean.

    I was responding to someone in particular.

    On a separate note I’d like to point out that there are people on this thread who are actually debating whether or not African Americans are smart enough to graduate at the top of their class which is pretty abhorrent. But don’t mind me. Carry on with your debate...

    It certainly seems awful to me that Prof Wax's absurd statement that African American students rarely end up in the top half of their class and never in the top quarter is being treated not as the racist and incorrect lie which it demonstrably is, but as an invitation to try to guess how few African American students end up in the top quarter or half.

    The reason Wax was claiming African American students don't succeed in top law schools was not because she was nearly making an important point, but because she needed a pre-text to argue not to accept African American students.

    I agree; debating the percentage of african americans at the top of their class somehow became a topic of discussion amongst some on this thread even though the orginal post was not about that at all.

    I agree with your plan to attent UPenn if accepted. I think it's a personal decision and you should absolutely attend if it works with your vision.

    Now I'm confused. Who said that they'd attend UPenn law if accepted? Didn't @"Seeking Perfection" state that he (she?) wouldn't attend (the same for Chicago), even with applications out to both? The only claim I saw here is that people (including myself) would judge UPenn holistically and not on the basis of Wax.

    As for the modal claim about what blacks "can" do, I wouldn't have even engaged in discussion on here if I interpreted someone as actually floating that claim. Obviously, you're well on your way to bigotry once you start trafficking in such claims (em, as in the general "you"). The idea I took people to be considering was whether, as a matter of fact, blacks haven't done [fill in the blank about academic achievement at UPenn]. That's an empirical claim--one that I seriously doubt when filled in as Wax filled it in, but it may very well be true. I just don't have access to the numbers to say definitively one way or the other (and I doubt that she did either). I just thought it was interesting to think about what one should say if one granted such empirical claims to Wax. It doesn't seem to me that what one should say is anything close to what Wax has said. I'm honestly most surprised that the interviewer (Glenn Loury) seemed to agree almost all of what she put out there.

    Thankfully, it had been definitively answered by the Dean of Penn Law though. So there really is no question that many African Americans have placed in the top quarter of the class at Penn Law and many more in the top half. Continuing to act like this is an open question or accepting Wax's premises for the sake of argument doesn't make sense when you know they are false.

    Two things. Just because the dean said that in a statement doesn't mean its true. Unfortunately, in today's climate, public statements cannot just be taken on faith, even if they are one's in which one wants to believe.--I happen to believe the dean's statement though, and took up the question from the position of someone who might have been more skeptical of the epistemic value of those comments.

    The second point is that the discussion doesn't have to do with Wax, per se. One can imagine circumstances where such comments are made and they have more merit to them as far as empirical support. In such conceivable circumstances, I think that it is important to question any Wax-like conclusions which might be drawn from it. I entertained the hypothetical with that in mind.

    First of all, the Dean really couldn't have easilly been lying. Doing so would run the risk of others who know the truth correcting him. The circle of people who know something of the grade distribution at Penn is probably fairly small, but far bigger than it might seem at first glance. Other administrators know. However, so do employers. If there are employers who have interviewed hundereds of people from the top of Penn's class and none of them were Black, they could reveal the Dean if he was lying. He would obviously be hesitant to generate the kind of huge negative publicity such a revealed lie would bring. Additionally, things like the fact that the law review is not selected based on race (Wax claimed it was) and thus that the Black members of Penn's Law Review over the years have probably nearly universally either done very well in Penn or done very well on the write-in competition would be even harder to make up. There are probably at least several if not dozens of different Penn Law students making those decisions about law review members every year who would know if race were a factor being used. Since it isn't and Black students have been on it, we know Black students sometimes do very well at Penn in terms of 1L grades.

    Additionally, I do not think that imagining a hypothetical world where Wax is right would do any good. First of all, such a world would need a number of things resolved. The first thing would be how could Black students at Penn end up never making the top quarter of their class and only rarely be making the top half. LSAT scores and GPA could not explain that result because people with low LSAT scores and GPAs compared to their peers regularly end up getting good grades because those two variables combined only explain about 25 percent of the variation in first year grades. The answer to how Black students could be so unlikely to get top grades in your hypothetical would have to be an astonishing degree of racism in grading of exams. But of course since this isn't real it doesn't make sense for anyone to boycott Penn over their endemic racist grading policies. Instead, we should probably stick with a consideration of what to do in response to the actual problem that Penn is employing a racist professor who makes up negative claims about Black students at Penn in order to bolster racist internet trolls arguments that Blacks should be kept out of law schools for their own good.

    I started to write up (much earlier) an account of how actually extraordinary Wax's claims would have to be in order to be satisfied which referenced the points you raise for the particular hypothetical you consider (in particular, the point about the (extreme) inability of the predicative validity of UGPA/LSAT distributions to fund her claims about grade distributions). I thought that, given that this discussion has been far longer than I originally intended, I should probably spare myself and others. So just a few comments (in reverse order):

    (1) I took it that the point in entertaining these sorts of claims is not that they are true nor that they are nearly so. Rather, it the point is that they are outrageous. But I also took it that that questioning the conclusions that we are to supposedly draw (according to Wax), if they were true was instructive in other, more realistic cases (in roughly the same spirit). These are cases where the claims made have nothing to do with Wax or UPenn in particular (I think you can drum up a few examples of the usual suspects). My thought is that if the arguments don't work in the most opportune case for the person who makes Wax-like claims, then they certainly don't work in the less opportune, more realistic cases. Considering the hypotheticals in this spirit isn't out of step with the focus that you urge we have about UPenn.

    (2) ...more importantly somehow either my doing so (i.e., entertaining outrageous claims) or others with whom I was engaging gave off the impression that we were debating whether blacks were smart enough to get good grades at UPenn. I would've thought that, at least for my part, this was an impossible interpretation unless I'm some kind of real-life incarnation of Clayton Bigsby. But I would've thought that went without saying.

    (3) I also agree(d) with the Dean, and for some of the reasons you mentioned (but more so because of the extraordinary consequences the truth Wax's claims would entail (assuming no grade manipulation, etc.)). I guess I take a more cynical view towards public statements regarding information accessible to a small number which is politically salient.--But, hey, maybe I'm just too much of a pessimist as far as that's concerned!... I don't know if anyone can blame me nowadays.

    (4) Yeah, not sure about attempts to use governments on here. I'd call doxing if it much mattered :/

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    edited March 2018 3652 karma

    I really take issue w all the people here who said “blacks” smh

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