WASC encourages illegal activity

Is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation team trying to make Cal Poly break the law? It sure seems like it.

In case you didn’t hear, the WASC team re-approved Cal Poly’s accreditation. But in its review, it made an issue about our lack of diversity, telling Cal Poly to “actively increase the diversity of students, the diversity of staff and the diversity of faculty.”

How exactly do they expect Cal Poly to suddenly become more diverse?

I’m all in favor of a more diverse campus. Who am I to question the wide body of research cited by so many universities that prove the benefits of diversity in the classroom? While these studies always seem a bit vague and manipulated to achieve specific agendas, there’s no doubt people from different walks of life bring unique and valuable perspectives to the classroom.

Diversity has become incredibly important to Cal Poly in recent years. After being “removed” from his former position, Cornel Morton was reassigned as a senior adviser to the president to work with him on increasing the number of diverse, first-generation college students at Cal Poly. The humble fellow has kept very private about his work, but I’m sure there’s one question everyone is asking: How will Cal Poly actually increase the overall acceptance rate of “diverse,” first-generation applicants?

As far as I know, Cal Poly has never had a history of racial, ethnic or gender discrimination. In the last few decades, Cal Poly has gained an incredible reputation of attracting some of the best and the brightest students (and faculty members) and producing some of the most highly-demanded graduates in the job market. The school has been perhaps deficient in representing a few racial/ethnic groups, but I wouldn’t blame the university for it.

Why should Cal Poly change its acceptance standards (assuming it has not already)? WASC Accreditation Board has not, of course, directly requested this drastic action, but the implications of their post-review comments seem pretty obvious, even if it was explicitly more nebulous than Joe Biden’s contributions to the Obama Administration.

Here’s the truth: WASC wants Cal Poly to use affirmative action measures without calling it affirmative action. This phrase “affirmative action” is taboo at this point. Proposition 209 (passed in 1996) outlawed all forms of affirmative action in California, and the law still remains valid under the California Constitution. So, WASC will obviously not be indiscreetly advocating it.

WASC would likely argue that it is simply encouraging Cal Poly to work harder in attracting qualified, diverse applicants and faculty candidates.

But haven’t we already been doing this these past few years? If not, what has been the point of the Inclusive Excellence Council?

When it comes to faculty, the university’s most classic excuse is that we simply don’t have enough money to sway those candidates who are in high demand. Is WASC going to give us some money to solve this issue?

Interestingly, the committee commended Cal Poly’s ability to thrive under serious budget cuts.

“In so many situations, people use the budget deductions as an excuse not to do something,” committee member George Pardon said.

Instead, Cal Poly has committed itself to “maintaining and increasing services.” Yet in this kind of financial strain, how do they expect Cal Poly to fund the most qualified “diverse” candidates?

If they must resort to selecting less qualified “diverse” candidates in the name of diversity, then the line of affirmative action has indeed been crossed, whether hiring boards admit it or not. And the civil rights of all the more qualified candidates would be violated as a result.

I am not suggesting that affirmative action is currently occurring at Cal Poly; I certainly have no proof. However, any reasonable person would conclude that the WASC committee’s suggestion certainly encourages it at both the student and faculty level. In other words, they are slyly encouraging Cal Poly to break the law.

Instead of placing impossible burdens on university leaders, WASC should encourage the state to develop inner city communities and improve the high school education quality of low-income neighborhoods. How else will students receive the tools necessary to succeed at the university level? How else will they receive the necessary grades and test scores for admission?

Doesn’t this community-based solution seem (dare I say it) more “sustainable”?

Cal Poly refuses to challenge the opinion of the WASC for fear of losing its accreditation in the future. However, someone needs to point out the facts and put an end to the useless rhetoric of this self-righteous commission.

College campuses can’t increase diversity on their own. The process needs to start before teens even turn in their college applications. That would be some change I can believe in.

  • anonymous

    You are ignorant. You have no idea what you’re talking about. I suggest you read the following article about white privilege and then think about what you’ve written.

    http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

  • billy

    You say “As far as I know, Cal Poly has never had a history of racial, ethnic or gender discrimination.”

    It was not long ago that we saw a noose and Confederate flag outside the crops house…

    http://mail.nameorg.org/pipermail/name-mce_nameorg.org/2008-November/004020.html

    You might try using some research to back up your opinions

    • Mike

      He’s talking about admission policies of the school, not what some students allegedly did in their house.

      • Anonymous

        It was not “allegedly.” Regardless, although we may not see overt racism in the university’s history, it is institutionslized racism, which is often invisible to those who are not effected by it that is the true issue in our society.

        • Mike

          What is the institutionalized racism you have faced at Cal Poly? Explain it in detail. The excuse that it’s invisible to those not affected by it is not a valid argument.

          • Rawr

            Don’t be dimwitted and hollow-headed. Check your privilege. You can start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege

          • Mike

            You call me dimwitted and yet you lazily link me to a Wikipedia page about White Privilege when I asked for explicit support to Anonymous’ claim that Cal Poly is a racist institution. You don’t get to just say “white privilege” as if that’s somehow an intellectual nuclear bomb. I can just as easily say to Anonymous that there actually is zero institutional racism at Cal Poly and any racism they see is a distortion of reality out of insecurity, and my argument would have the same validity.

  • Jim

    It’s thinking like in this article that is decaying and will continue to decay our country from the inside. lol American exceptionalism.

  • Old Mole

    Mr. Pringle,

    You have been misinformed.

    “Here’s the truth: WASC wants Cal Poly to use affirmative action measures without calling it affirmative action. This phrase “affirmative action” is taboo at this point. Proposition 209 (passed in 1996) outlawed all forms of affirmative action in California, and the law still remains valid under the California Constitution. So, WASC will obviously not be indiscreetly advocating it.”

    What Section 31 of Article I actually says is:

    (a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
    (there is more, but it is all legalese and not pertinent to the discussion)

    As you can see, affirmative action isn’t mentioned. I am not surprised that it slipped by you, since you were about five when it was enacted. You may also notice that it doesn’t disallow preferential treatment to individuals or groups outside the narrow definition of the initiative … affirmative action programs for the economically disadvantaged are perfectly allowable. Since this was so clear to me at the time, as a liberal Republican (there were such animals fifteen years ago) I voted for it.

    Frankly, I have been disappointed at the response to the challenge that Prop 209 posed. True, schools have done more outreach … but they have done so at the same level, reaching out to graduating seniors, which is entirely too late if one is serious about finding talented disadvantaged kids. Outreach, by both faculty and students, ought to start no later than middle school, to give the kids who would be otherwise bored out of their skulls a reason to stick around. It isn’t as if their older brothers or neighbors are going to Poly … and the idea of a GIRL doing science or engineering has never occurred to them. It isn’t as if the bright kids are hard to spot, or aren’t despaired of by their teachers … they ought to get a hand early on.

    It may well be that the mentoring and tutoring process has to go all the way through junior college, but some sort of TAP plus program could be set up with Cuesta and Hancock to take care of that if they are serious.

    It isn’t as easy as ticking off a check box marked “race”, as if there was such a thing, but it would make for a more diverse campus.

    Best wishes,

    Mole

    • Old Mole

      P.S.

      Somewhat red-faced, I find that my bright idea about middle school outreach has been in place since 1966, in the form of the federally-funded Outward Bound program.

  • Tony Fels

    Brendan Pringle may have noted something important about WASC’s commitment to diversity: its lack of concern for the means adopted to achieve this end. Not having read WASC’s evaluation of Cal Poly, I can’t be sure if Brendan is characterizing WASC’s recommendation accurately, especially since the accrediting agency obviously knows the legal restrictions on public institutions embodied in Prop 209. And there are legal, though more indirect, ways to promote diversity short of preferential hiring or admissions.

    Still, at my school (the University of San Francisco), WASC recently showed an utter disregard for the means adopted to promote affirmative action, looking the other way when a well documented charge of unethical behavior was brought to its attention as part of the reaccreditation process. As a private institution, USF is allowed to promote affirmative action, and I have long been a supporter of this policy. But when the university administration, in all likelihood, stacked the deck in appointing outside evaluators in a departmental review in order to accelerate diversity hiring, I, as chair of the department, spoke out against such methods. WASC refused to investigate these charges, even though they pointed to a clear violation of its Standard One (administrative integrity) for accreditation.

    For those who would like to learn more about this case, I attach a link to my editorial attacking WASC for its inaction in this instance: http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=2295

  • Gaylord Mc Cool

    Brendan Pringle is certainly right. WASC wants diversity of race, not diversity of thought or political beliefs, which is also needed. Apparently they don’t care what the law states. Cal Poly is doing its best under the circumstances. Good article Brendan. Keep up the good conservative work.

  • anon.

    “If they must resort to selecting less qualified “diverse” candidates in the name of diversity…” Why do you assume that a diverse candidate is “less qualified”?

    • Mike

      Because frequently selection of candidates for jobs and spots at universities cut highly qualified people, who do not have the desired skin color, for less qualified people who meet a designated minimum requirement.

      He’s not saying that a “diverse candidate” (whatever the hell that even means) is inherently less qualified, as I’m sure you would like him to say. He’s saying that by having the admissions process put an emphasis on things like skin color, it will ultimately result on less educationally qualified students being selected because their skin color has become a more emphasized qualification.

  • anonymous

    I feel like you’re only saying you want a more diverse campus to seem politically correct but you apparently haven’t done your best job at it. I’m all for people giving their opinions but its ignorant people like you who are the reason why this school lacks true diversity. If it weren’t for people like you who don’t acknowledge your own white privilege (see article posted above by anonymous) you people might start to understand. You have been born with the undeserved privilege of not having to worry about lack of diversity at this campus and you are offended when people say you have a privilege (that has not been earned) and the thought of you losing that privilege (power in the majority) has you writing this article. Broaden your views of how other people live in this world, that’s why you’re at college: to get educated, and think more open minded if you expect more people to support you. If you don’t care then you should stick to a personal journal instead of the mustang daily since you’ve already turned off a few people (not just me) to the campus newspaper with this article.

  • VRod

    As a minority student, I completely disagree that Cal Poly has never had a history of racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination. Myself and many other minority students that I interact with experience discrimination in explicit and implicit ways everyday. Cal Poly is not a safe place for minority students, we often do not feel at home here and something needs to be done about this.
    The WASC is simply pointing out an issue that obviously needs to change, not asking Cal Poly to do anything illegal but asking Cal Poly to provide a truly equal educational experience for everyone.

    • Mike

      VRod, what is the explicit discrimination you have faced by the institution of Cal Poly? I think if you’re going to make a charge like that, you had better be specific.

      And a truly equal educational experience would be one that emphasizes a truly educational experience. Equality would mean every person has the same list of academic achievements they must acquire in order to be admitted and to graduate. When you introduce subjective nonsense like racial and ethnic preferences, you have now eliminated merit-based equality and replaced it with tribalism.

      • VRod

        Mike, the only reason I wasn’t specific is because they are personal stories and I doubt my peers would want them online. The fact that you and many other students in the majority do not acknowledge that racism/discrimination still happens explicitly is very discouraging. Change can only come when people acknowledge and care about an issue.

        I say that it is not an equal educational experience because this discrimination we experience in various ways adds a whole new level of stress, discomfort, sense of inadequacy and frustration. This creates more obstacles that minority students have to face during their college experience.This is evident in the fact that many minority students leave Cal Poly (some I know myself) not because they could not keep up with classes but because they could not deal with the lack of diversity and the ignorance that that creates.

        also, read what you’ll never know said

  • Alex Bronstein

    the main thing here is that a conservative write is openly advocating increased spending on schools!!! if only the real conservatives held such a stance.

  • You’ll never now

    Well as a Latino student I can Say that I have faced micro forms of aggression at Cal Poly. But that’s not why I am writing. WASC is seeking to make our campus more diverse. I know because I met with them and had the privileged to pick their brains. But Cal Polys culture does not cater to its minority population which discourages minorities from applying here. What they are saying is that we need to change our culture and be more diverse. And that lies with us not the state or anyone else for that mater. The reason you can’t see it is because you are part of the privilege not the under privileged. You may not want to accept this but you writing this paper only shows how us minorities deal with micro forms of racism everyday. I agree with vrod and many of the other posts. Look through the eyes of others and maybe you’ll have a heart to understand our point of view.

  • Drew

    Presented below are the diversity numbers from schools that are primary competitors to Cal Poly. The figures come directly from the quick facts presented on each university’s website.

    Based on this information, here are a couple significant questions…

    According to the most recent US Census, California is 57.6% White, 13% Asian, 6% Black and 37% Hispanic. Yet, Asians far outnumber all other ethnic groups at many of the UC campuses.

    1. When considering that a university’s enrollment should strive to mirror the state’s population as it relates to the ethnic composition of its student body, are UC campuses actually discriminating against all ethnic groups in favor of Asian students?

    2. Is Cal Poly being told to diversify because of the number of white students attending the university? If so, is the WASC making the same recommendations to UC campuses with heavy Asian populations? If not, is the WASC a racist organization that discriminates against caucasians?

    Here’s the breakdown:

    UC San Diego – 44% Asian, 24% White, 10% Hispanic, 1% Black

    UC Irvine – 50% Asian, 19% White, 13% Hispanic, 1% Black

    UCSB – 17% Asian, 51% white, 21% Hispanic, 3% Black

    UCLA – 36% Asian, 31% White, 16% Hispanic, 4% Black

    UC Davis – 42% Asian, 33% White, 16% Hispanic, 2% Black

    UC Berkeley – 41% Asian, 31% White, 12% Hispanic, 4% Black

    Cal Poly 11% Asian, 64% White, 12% Hispanic, 1% Black

    • Old Mole

      Drew,

      There does appear to be a breakdown of some kind here … clearly you failed to mention that other significant minority group, the “Too apathetic to state”.

      Although the US Census figures you provided seem to understate their existence (57.6% White, 13% Asian, 6% Black and 37% Hispanic =113.6%, so the Tats population apparently makes up -13.6% of our population) they seem to be over-represented in the UC system:

      UC San Diego – 44% Asian, 24% White, 10% Hispanic, 1% Black =79%, so the Tats percentage must be 21%

      UC Irvine – 50% Asian, 19% White, 13% Hispanic, 1% Black = 83%, Tats = 17%

      UCSB – 17% Asian, 51% white, 21% Hispanic, 3% Black = 92%, Tats = 8%

      UCLA – 36% Asian, 31% White, 16% Hispanic, 4% Black = 87%, Tats = 13%

      UC Davis – 42% Asian, 33% White, 16% Hispanic, 2% Black = 93%, Tats = 7%

      UC Berkeley – 41% Asian, 31% White, 12% Hispanic, 4% Black = 88%, Tats =12%

      Cal Poly 11% Asian, 64% White, 12% Hispanic, 1% Black = 88%, Tats =12%

      Clearly whoever compiled your statistics was a member of this minority group, and probably not a math major. Politeness forbids me to think that the apathy quotient at Cal Poly might be, if anything, under-reported.

      Best wishes,

      Mole

      • Drew

        I’d suggest you go on the websites of each of the school represented. That’s where the stats were secured. The figures I’ve presented have focused on the primary groups each school presents.

        If you’re questioning the validity, do some pick and shovel work and post what you find to be more accurate.

        BTW, the census info comes from the Federal Government. Here’s the link if you’d like to double check. Perhaps they’re the ones with the math problem but I think the census data is pretty accurate with a very small margin for error.

        http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html

        • Old Mole

          Drew,

          Fair enough … but remember, you did ask for it.

          First of all, when you go to the Census link you provided, you notice that there are two figures provided for “White persons” … the total figure you mentioned, and one for “White persons not Hispanic”, which was 40.1%. Had you used that one instead, what originally looked like a comfortable majority of the population subsides to merely the largest minority, but not by very much. A more cynical type than myself might attribute your including the fraction of a percent for the White population (57.6%) but dropping them for all other ethnic groups, as manipulating the data to improve your argument, but I am certain it is merely inadvertent oversight … but for future reference, when given a figure such as 37.6% for the Hispanic population, it is customary to round up rather than merely truncate as you did in your post.

          This of course is not the end of the story, because the average California university campus is not representative of the state population as a whole … there are a very limited number of pensioners and toddlers ambling around campus, so limited that I haven’t seen any at all. What it ought to represent, at least in an ideal world, is a close sample of the college age population. I couldn’t find any samples based on the 2010 census (given the number of public sector layoffs, I am not too shocked) but there is such a breakdown from 2000, available here as an Excel worksheet:

          http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demographic/reports/projections/p-3/documents/CALIFORNIA.XLS

          Using the age range 5-9 twelve years ago as a rough equivalent of the current college age population, I arrived at these numbers:

          White – 34.2%
          Hispanic – 45.6%
          Asian – 9.0%
          Black – 7.2%
          Mixed race – 3.1%
          Native American – 0.5%
          with the remainder attributable to Pacific Islanders, rounding errors, and decline to state.

          The world is not ideal, and the Cal State university system is set up by percentage of high school graduates, not the age group, and I am well aware of our horrendous dropout rates. Forced to guess, I would think that dropout rates for Asian students are significantly lower than any other demographic, which could account for at least some of the disparity. I also think it would be fruitful to examine the Cal State system as a whole, rather than a cherry-picked selection of elite schools, to get a better feel for how the system serves the public.

          I also grow tired of protests of “reverse discrimination”, to be treated in full lights and sirens crisis mode and stamped out immediately, followed by complaints of discrimination that has gone on for generations counseled to “be patient, these things take time”, often by exactly the same people. How it is that you can’t take a fraction of the outrage you feel to empathize with those our parents and grandparents kept down through force of law and custom baffles me.

          Best wishes,

          Mole

  • N

    What many seem to forget is that there are ways of increasing ethic diversity on campus without Affirmative Action. Cal Poly is accepting the cream of the crop students from around the state. The problem is that minority students don’t want to come here, and why should they?

    if you were an African American student growing up in a less wealthy neighborhood in LA, which in turn has less funding for the schools in their district, why would you want to come to a school with less than 1% African American students? Why, after fighting your way to get great grades, great test scores, amazing extra-curricular leadership positions, work part-time all the while there is violence and classism all around you, why would you want to come to a school where the image of a noose and confederate flag is still fresh in the student’s and faculty’s minds? Why would you want to go to a school that throws around the N-word and the F-word and other discriminatory phrases without a second thought to how those words affect people?

    The solution to Cal Poly’s diversity problem lies with the students and the environment we promote. Administration can doctor up as many missions statements as they want to, at the end of the day it is up to students to promote inclusivity and respect for one another.

    • Old Mole

      N,

      I must take issue with a portion of your statement:
      “if you were an African American student growing up in a less wealthy neighborhood in LA, which in turn has less funding for the schools in their district”

      LA Unified has higher per-pupil expenditure than most of the whiter districts in LA county … over $10,000 per pupil, while Palos Verdes, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach all make do with less than $8,000 per student (this leaves aside Beverly Hills, with PPE of over $20,000, but having oil wells on school property makes that district a special case).

      http://www.insidesocal.com/schoolnotebook/2011/06/per-pupil-school-spending-anal.html

      I am certainly open to arguments that it isn’t enough money, given the challenges faced by some of the schools in the district, or that the money available is spent in the best way to achieve stated goals … but whatever problems that exist are not the result of getting less money.

      Best wishes,

      Mole

  • A

    “As far as I know, Cal Poly has never had a history of racial, ethnic or gender discrimination.”

    Whatever your opinion, at least fact check your article before writing.

    In 1930, Cal Poly banned females from the entire school until 1956.

    • B

      It’s hard for people to understand perspectives. Although we have bright students, they become this way at Cal poly. There are many students here that make me wonder how they got into this college in general. People of other minorities aren’t given the chance to become great like all the grads here because of circumstances that white people are unable to understand.

      This article states that less qualified minorities would be favored. What defines someone being qualified?? They went to a school that had high scores, great teachers and tutors, and high SAT scores? You don’t understand that many minorities don’t have the privilege of SAT classes, math tutors, or counselors that advise them on how to get into their dream college. Even having parents to convince them to work hard to get into college is a luxury.

      As a minority, I was lucky enough to take the initiative myself to get high SAT scores and get motivated for college. I had little to no motivation from my parents to go to one of the best engineering schools in the country. This is common for many of the few minorities here now. White people don’t realize that things that seem innate to them are luxuries to minorities.

      It is sort of analogous to trying out for the NBA. Most players are extremely tall. Although there are people who have the same skills, but are shorter, they will not make the team. Therefore the shorter players that try out have to be twice as good as their tall counterparts. In this analogy, white people are the tall players, great school resources is their height, the NBA is Cal Poly, and minorities are the short players. And how many players in the NBA are under 6 ft? An extremely small amount. You might try to argue that this is what WASC is trying to do with the roles flipped, but this is what minorities face everyday when applying for jobs as well. WASC is asking Cal Poly to consider circumstances of minority applicants.

      White men don’t understand that alot minority students, which includes white women, feel the pressure to prove to their teachers and peers that they are worthy of being here.
      It baffles me that the mustang daily could allow an article this offensive to be published. And trust me, there are MANY people who are offended by this.

      • B

        Oops didn’t mean to reply to your comment. I actually agree with it :)

      • Racadabra

        I think you’re making a fatal error by equating minority status with income disparity. Although there can be correlations between the two, you’re implication is essentially that:
        Minority status–>poverty–>poor academic performance–>poor representation at universities

        So what is the basis of your claim? As Drew pointed out above, Asians in the state of California are favorably misrepresented in the UC system. It turns out Asian families also have median incomes that are higher than that of any other racial category, including whites. (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0697.pdf). If being a minority is as inherently perilous as you state, how do you explain this? Why is it that Asians are less represented in this country than both blacks and Hispanics yet do better in school and do better financially than everyone else?

        • B

          The majority of the black people at Cal Poly(not including athletes) come from nice neighborhoods. We were fortunate enough to have the resources we did, but even in our neighborhoods, there is a huge under representation of black and hispanic members of the community. If the admissions process stays the same forever, there will be a never ending cycle of low representation.

          It does come to a matter of money as well. Yes there are poor whites, but the median income for black and hispanic people is nearly half that of white. There’s probably a huge under representation of people who come from families with a median income is less than $40,000.

          Although Asians are a racial minority in America as a whole, they are not in most good colleges. Trust me, I know. I am also Asian. To be honest, I think we accept MANY Asians in the admissions process, but they choose UC schools over Cal Poly because of the “esteem” UCs have. This is not “proven” but since I had tons of Asian friends in high school that got into Cal Poly, but their parents pressured them to choose the school they feel has more “prestige.” It’s obviously an over generalization, but from A LOT of experience I’d think it’s pretty true, but I don’t think that not accepting enough Asians is the problem.

          • J

            Before this thread gets ridiculous, I would hope you guys could all wake up and not categorize and stereotype people based on race. This will eventually only hurt people of every race, asians, blacks, hispanics, etc, each in different ways.

            How do you explain that Cal Poly Pomona, San Jose State University, which obviously do not have as much prestige as UCs or Cal Poly SLO, each has 24-30% Asians? Asians are not making more median income than whites. Please, do some more research besides just reading numbers. Do not use your own experience to make conclusion about all of us. Many of us are recent immigrants/refugees who have limited English ability and live in inner city neighborhoods. We do not like to be categorized all in one racial group or held in the same standard as those Asians appearing “well-off”, having better access to English learning, living in affluent areas and going to prestigious schools.

            Yes, everybody thinks themselves are treated unfairly in this society. Whites, Asians, Blacks, Gays, Christians……..

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