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does one's ethnicity/racial identity matter?


hl348

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do you think/ do you by any chance know if one's racial identity matters in the admission process?

We are living in the US where people expect/hope/or at least feel obliged to keep any sort of diversity in many occasions. and I heard/thought that the same thing would work in the admission process for graduate programs. Like, the department of which racial majority is asians would probably want to have more people from different cultural/racial background just to promote racial/cultural diversity of the department. Similarly, the department mostly having african americans would be interested in recruiting non-afro americans... ? this is my thought... what do you think? or have you heard of anything thats related to this issue???

anyways, good luck with everyone whos still waiting for happy results!(including moi...)

Edited by hl348
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Wow I really really hope not! I would hope that something as important and prestigious as graduate school would throw out the "affirmative action" card and just accept people based on their qualifications. That would really enrage people I think if they found out that was happening.

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You are right, we all hope for diversity. However, I do not think that one's race or ethnicity is considered during admissions, UNLESS that individual's experiences can add to his proposed field of study and/or his own research. Furthermore, where is this department where African American students are the majority? If you are refering to African American Studies departments, then it depends on the department. Does the dept support objective research or subjective research? It all depends on the department, and whether or not the individuals reading your application think that ethnicity has any relevance.

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Well, grad school is a bit late for affirmative action. I understand taking into account how much time a person may have had to spend working part or full time jobs as undergrads, but anything else about someone's personal background seems like it should be irrelevant. Anyways, I don't think it counts, at least not where I applied. I remember reading something that said the race/socioeconomic questions were only asked so that they could collect data about the people they accepted, and that that section was not passed on to the people making the admission decisions. Maybe they were lying, but whatever.

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Oh Come on guys! We can at least try to talk about race and hope it doesn't disintegrate into the usual crap. Here goes:

In a nutshell, my answer to the OP's question is that while it may not matter for admissions, it can matter for funding. Many universities have graduate school wide diversity fellowships for which they nominate minority applicants.

I'm going to cite a comment from Insider Higher Ed and a recent magazine article.

"In 1992, half of all doctoral degrees awarded to black scholars in the USA were in just one subject, education. Most of the rest were in social work or sociology. Not one was in atomic physics, astronomy, microbiology, nuclear engineering, geophysics, endocrinology, biomedical engineering, oceanography, cell biology, accounting, business economics, comparative literature, genetics, or archeology. None was in algebra, geometry, statistics, or logic. There were none in geography or paleontology, or in German, Italian, Spanish or Russian, nor any in classics. But, there were 500 in education and nearly as many in sociology. (Source: Summary Report, 1992, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.) How can M.I.T. or any other college meet a racial quota among its astronomy, genetics, or mathematics faculty unless black graduate students seek doctorates in those subjects? They can't hire nothing but sociologists."

- Jack Olson, see
here

The article itself is actually about hiring but it's an interesting read nonetheless. The second thing is from the Princeton Alumni Weekly. The article is about Asian-Americans and Princeton graduate admissions. It starts off by pointing out that the university has a visit weekend for minority graduate students in April of each year but that Asian-Americans aren't included because they aren't an underrepresented graduate student population and then goes on to criticize this (though it's not nearly as critical as it could/should be, imo).

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Man I love questions like this! And what do people mean by "card" anyway? Like it is just something that is pulled out when we need it? Like it doesn't effect our lives at all? You should make a great sociologist!

S/he wouldn't be the first or the last in the discipline. It's actually one of the things about the discipline of which I am NOT a fan. Not that anthro is any better but sociology strikes me as critical without being self-critical when it comes to issues of race or any of the -isms.

It's just an expression, but thanks for the cattiness!

Really? A common expression? I have, honestly, never heard of the "affirmative action card" so I wonder if I have missed a cultural or scholarly evolution?

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Man I love questions like this! And what do people mean by "card" anyway? Like it is just something that is pulled out when we need it? Like it doesn't effect our lives at all? You should make a great sociologist!

I was just lurking around here but I couldn't believe when I read that. Comments like that are completely inappropriate and uncalled for. You may disagree with the wording that someone used (which wasn't a big deal at all) but under no circumstances should you insult someone's intelligence/capability/professional potential. You sound like a have quite a chip on your shoulder. This is supposed to be a positive environment. Very inappropriate and distasteful.

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S/he wouldn't be the first or the last in the discipline. It's actually one of the things about the discipline of which I am NOT a fan. Not that anthro is any better but sociology strikes me as critical without being self-critical when it comes to issues of race or any of the -isms.

Really? A common expression? I have, honestly, never heard of the "affirmative action card" so I wonder if I have missed a cultural or scholarly evolution?

It's so sad that people have to speak to each other this way. I think I may sign off from this forum completely. Seriously, derogatory remarks about someone's discipline? I would've thought that those posting on a graduate school board would have greater maturity.

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It's so sad that people have to speak to each other this way. I think I may sign off from this forum completely. Seriously, derogatory remarks about someone's discipline? I would've thought that those posting on a graduate school board would have greater maturity.

What academy are you joining where discussing the strengths and weaknesses of disciplines and their respective methodologies will not happen? By all means, sign off. But discussing my issues with sociology AND anthropology is well within bounds of an intelligent conversation.

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What academy are you joining where discussing the strengths and weaknesses of disciplines and their respective methodologies will not happen? By all means, sign off. But discussing my issues with sociology AND anthropology is well within bounds of an intelligent conversation.

I fully understand and agree with this, my argument is that it doesn't have to be done in a mean, spiteful or insulting manner that personally attacks someone's worth in their profession. There seems to be so much hostility and nastiness going on here, I hope it is just the stress of the application process and not a representation of what I have to look forward to in graduate study.

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I was just lurking around here but I couldn't believe when I read that. Comments like that are completely inappropriate and uncalled for. You may disagree with the wording that someone used (which wasn't a big deal at all) but under no circumstances should you insult someone's intelligence/capability/professional potential. You sound like a have quite a chip on your shoulder. This is supposed to be a positive environment. Very inappropriate and distasteful.

I honestly don't mind being inappropriate or distasteful (I have my own ideas about those words, but NBD), and I probably do have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, I have to agree. But I wasn't trying to insult anyone's intelligence/capability/professional potential, I was merely saying that I think sociology doesn't give race enough credit. Granted, now that I look at my post it does seem a little catty, but what would you expect from someone who did undergrad in Ethnic Studies/NAS? And although word choice doesn't seem like a big deal to you, expressions, present and past, are taken very seriously in ethnic studies because it is often what is considered "normal" that is the problem.

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Wow I really really hope not! I would hope that something as important and prestigious as graduate school would throw out the "affirmative action" card and just accept people based on their qualifications. That would really enrage people I think if they found out that was happening.

Well, grad school is a bit late for affirmative action. I understand taking into account how much time a person may have had to spend working part or full time jobs as undergrads, but anything else about someone's personal background seems like it should be irrelevant. Anyways, I don't think it counts, at least not where I applied. I remember reading something that said the race/socioeconomic questions were only asked so that they could collect data about the people they accepted, and that that section was not passed on to the people making the admission decisions. Maybe they were lying, but whatever.

The presupposition that affirmative action (and by extension, the acknowledgment of race) is somehow childish -- the antithesis of something as "important and prestigious" as grad school -- is incredibly offensive to me. Many things we take for granted when we talk about race today -- the understanding that racial discrimination is wrong, or the idea that race is a social, not biological construct, for instance -- arose in huge part from the work that was done in higher education BY people of color. People who, if not for affirmative action, would not have been able to participate in higher learning.

We shouldn't assume that we've reached a static understanding of race perfectly equitable to all people, PRECISELY because of graduate/higher ed research. One example I can pull from the top of my head is Roland Fryer, the economist at Harvard, whose work and life I won't summarize here but are well worth reading for the perspectives they provide on this topic.

Beyond this, we should question the notion that one's ethnicity and racial identity don't impact the research one is capable of doing. In sociology we learn about "access," and what that means in terms of membership in a racial minority/majority. But in every field, there are real obstacles that arise because of race -- black kids who don't apply themselves in science and math classes for fear of being accused of "acting white," Asian American kids who are pressured into those same fields not only by their parents but by their peers and societal expectations, for example. Even if race theoretically "shouldn't matter," even if race is arbitrary, even if it isn't "real" -- it creates very real feelings, very real problems, and very real consequences.

There are nebulous aspects of affirmative action, and I won't pretend that I'm arguing wholesale for either side (well, obviously I'm leaning one way). Just, please -- consider the ramifications of EVERYTHING you are saying.

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The bearer of bad news here. I remember my prof did tell me that she used to sit in the adcom in one of the UCs years ago. She said yes, ethnicity/ethnicity-related research definitely played a part in the decision-making process. Just like I and many other people, she personally didn’t agree with that rationale but it’s more of a way to get funding/keep the department afloat. I would imagine maybe it means it differs from school to school, depending on who/what funds the school and what philosophy their source of funding is based on then? :huh:

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I heard that the reason as to why they ask if you are a Ltino/Hispanic or not on every application I've come across is for such reasons. But then again, I am not from the US, so I don't know.

No, that's just to reflect the way the data is taken on the census--the U.S. Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in the U.S. who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.).

Edited by quadsbaby
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No, that's just to reflect the way the data is taken on the census--the U.S. Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in the U.S. who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.).

oh I see. Makes much more sense :)

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I agree with the previous posters that this is not going to end well!

I'm Hispanic--I put that in the positive threads hehehe. At this point I'm shameless... I just want to get in! ;)

Seriously though, as I mentioned in the positive threads, I don't think ethnicity helps you that much when it comes to admission. It can get you a nice diversity fellowship, but that's about it. I know someone who applied to 20+ schools last year (he was Native American) with excellent stats and didn't get in to every single school. He had a normal admission cycle. It's just too competitive!

I was also confused by the question "Are you Hispanic/Latino?" Why not just have it as one of the options like the other races?

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