A study released this week by the Center for Equal Opportunity has found evidence of racial discrimination in law, undergraduate and medical school admissions at the University of Oklahoma.
The study, which analyzes data obtained from the university, found that blacks were admitted to all three schools with lower academic qualifications than students from other racial and ethnic groups. Some evidence of preferential treatment for American Indian applicants was noted as well.
At the law school, we found black-white median LSAT gaps of 6 (equivalent to a combined math-verbal SAT gap of over 100), and a gap in undergraduate GPAs. Indeed, 105 whites were rejected despite higher LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs than the median black admittee in the two years studied. In more precise terms, we found a black-to-white odds ratio of 5.5 to 1 and American Indian-to-white odds ratio of 2.3 to 1.
An African-American law school applicant with median black admittee credentials would have a 60 percent chance of admission. An identically credentialed American Indian applicant would have only a 39 percent chance, a Hispanic applicant only 24 percent, a white applicant only 22 percent and an Asian-American applicant only a 15 percent chance of admission.
We found the same basic pattern in undergraduate admissions, although it was less pronounced there. That is, there were relatively small but still statistically significant black-to-white and American Indian-to-white odds ratios. There was also a black-white ACT gap of 4 (equivalent to a combined math-verbal SAT gap of 160), and a high school GPA gap there as well.
The evidence of medical school discrimination was similar but more dramatic. In the most recent year we analyzed, 29 whites and two Asian-American applicants were rejected despite higher MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs than the median “underrepresented minority” admittee.
This is consistent with the gaps we found in performance on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, Step 1, which is typically administered after the second year of medical school. Hispanics performed at roughly the same level as whites and Asians, but African-Americans performed much below all other groups (that is, they were most likely to fail or not take the exam, and their scores were the lowest); American Indians' performance fell between the performance of Hispanics and blacks.
Our study isn't the only evidence that OU uses racial preferences. For example, the recently published book “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended To Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It” finds that the university's law school data reveal “a marked pattern of racial preferences, slightly smaller than those most law schools use but still quite substantial.”
None of this is surprising: Nearly every selective school in the country uses racial preferences unless a court or state law has told it not to.
Clegg is president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity. The cited study is available on CEO's website at www.ceousa.org. The book Clegg references was written by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and Brookings Institution fellow Stuart Taylor.