I'm sooooo totally not capable of inserting myself into this discussion, but I find it totally fascinating, and can't really help chiming in.
Elizabeth, thanks for your thoughts, you actually had a lot of interesting and thoughtful things to say.
As for affirmative action, and grants.scholarships.whatever based on ethnicity. . . or, WHATever. . . in my experience, that's the state of being. Truly, I WISH I'd paid attention to my own mother, who felt sure (and she was right!) that she could help me get scholarship based on being (get this) of freaking SWISS lineage.
The rub is, I think that the first time I went to college, I refused all ethnicity-based aid. I hadn't grown up poor, am less than half black and felt like a fraud. But it didn't matter, as students resented me anyway and accused me of only being there due to Affirmative Action. Oddly enough, it was a 2nd-tier state school that didn't even require SAT scores (of which mine were in the 4 digit range, rare at my high school). Given that I didn't finish college the first time around due to lack of funding, I did take a minority scholarship. If I was going to be accused anyway, I might as well just take the aid. There was no other way I knew of to pay for it (more on that later). I also liked that "underrepresented group" was only one requirement. That way, my poor and first generation college student first cousins would not be excluded because they were white (not that they are applying to Columbia, but in principle).
a field heavily impacted by cut-backs (English lit) at the post-secondary level, affirmative action has distinctly meant four jobs that I did not get--and I was told this point-blank. I do not argue, necessarily, with this-all. I do think that colleges that presume to teach the full spectrum of American students need to be represented by faculty
Again, that's why I initially resisted such aid. How many times I'd heard the "unqualified minority" tale of woe from someone who felt they were passed over for a minority. Not saying that is how you put it, quite the opposite. But that you were told this creates resentment toward minorities and the perception of minority = less qualified. It's not like there aren't plenty of qualified minorities, so that's a lazy and cynical approach. Indeed, one of the great surprises at Columbia was that I befriended more black people than I ever had before in my life. I just did not have much interaction with blacks outside of one side of the family. And they were very different from most blacks I encountered before Columbia. In particular, I made a lot of black women friends, which has been invaluable.
Tenderloner, I was struck by your comment, somewhere back, that many may "prostitute" themselves, in today's NYC.
Yes, I meant it euphemistically (and specific to Columbia, but I've since seen the ads on Craig's List). Last night I discovered one of my peers was a gay porn star and male prostitute prior to, and possibly while a student at Columbia. In a way, that's more honest than the pretty girl in the MFA program dating the older man she doesn't love, but for his wallet. I know it happens all the time, I guess I just chose such a school to meet a better quality of people (intellectually), but too often encountered the dregs of humanity, in terms of morals.
(This post was edited by tenderloner on Mar 7, 2007, 6:47 PM)