Friday, October 1, 2021

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

 9/30/21 Inside Higher Education:

Only 13 of more than 125 graduate programs at the University of California, Berkeley, will require the Graduate Record Examination for admission next year, the university announced this week.

 Most departments eliminated GRE requirements last year due to difficulties applicants had in taking the exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the majority of Berkeley’s departments this year again chose not to require the GRE.

Berkeley, like most universities with many graduate programs, leaves the decision on admissions requirements to the individual departments. But the change at Berkeley -- at a time when most applicants could take the GRE -- is significant.

“I’m thrilled that so many of our departments elected to eliminate the GRE requirement in their admissions process,” said a statement from Lisa García Bedolla, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley. “The research clearly shows that there are significant race, gender and socioeconomic disparities in GRE scores. We are looking forward to assessing how removing the GRE admissions requirement allows us to develop better assessments and improve our holistic approach to graduate admissions."

If you did not go to grad school, you likely missed the GREs.  These are an attempt to see how well you know the subject for which you will be seeking an advanced degree.  If there are "race, gender and socioeconomic disparities" it means that your undergraduate program was not very good, or you have a poor memory. 

 Theoretically, a high GRE score opens doors.  It did not for me.  I was 91% percentile in World History and 99% in American History.  I had two published books, one refereed journal article and a 3.71 GPA.  Washington State University, Pullman, University of Idaho, and University of Wyoming all said No.  Only Sonoma State where I received my BA would take me. 

So, if your undergrad education was so bad, why are you suddenly prepared to do a graduate degree?  No one dares ask the question what role inferior inner city schools or culture play in this failure to get the Diversity police happy.  Or perhaps these institutions already run by the Diversity Police are racist/sexist/classist/homophobic/cisist hotbeds.

Another reminder that Orwell's classic question about the sum of 2+2 is again uncertain is this statement from McGill University's Physics Department:

Fostering and sustaining an equitable and inclusive environment —one which recognizes the diversity of backgrounds, identities, and expectations— broadens our perspectives and strengthens our community, research, and teaching activities.

What, exactly, does that mean?  If a black physicist insists one kilogram moving at 1 meter/second produces 0 joules of work and a white physicist says it produces 1 joule of work, are they both right?  Is it too white to ask each to stand back and throw 100 kg blocks at each other and see who is correct?  Does correct mean anything anymore at McGill?

1 comment:

  1. Part of the following is something Jaques Futrelle, the author of "The Thinking Machine" series of mysteries featuring an American competitor of Sherlock Holmes. Futrelle had the extreme misfortune to drown in the Titanic sinking after writing only about 45 or so mysteries. Part I thought of myself, for good or bad.

    "A good lawyer can tell you, as Professor Augustus Van Dusen, Ph.D., LL.D., F.R.S. M.D. M.D.S, is fond of saying, that Two plus Two equals Four; not just some of the time, but all of the time. A great lawyer can tell you when 2 + 2 = 10 or even 2 + 2 = 11, without violating any law of mathematics."
    -- John C. Wilson, Atty, A.A. B.B.A., MBA, J.D.