|Saturday, March 05, 2005|
Ice Front of the Ross Ice Shelf, Ross Sea, East of Cape Crozier, Ross I. -From the USCGC HH-1 'Dolphin' Helicopter, Antartica 1992
12:24:12 PM comment 
A Little Urbanity continues its discussion of snobbery and the architecture of middle-class homes.
10:55:35 AM comment 
The case for legacy admissions is not a popular one to make. But what the hell, I'll give it a shot.
Allen Johnson: "When I heard President Bush in person last summer tell minority journalists that he'd have had a snowball's chance of getting into Yale without legacy admissions -- and that he thought such preferences, often for the rich or at least the very well-off, were unfair -- I flatly predicted that this would be the last we'd hear of this subject from the Oval Office.
"Boy was I right."
The numbers in Allen's post are compelling -- too many legacy admissions limit access to top-tier schools and support a kind of hereditary class system that Americans rightly despise.
The argument gets more complicated when you include public universities, but all of the schools listed by Allen are private, so I'll focus on that subset here.
Let's start with the critical fact that college admissions are hardly an objective process, in ways that go far beyond legacy considerations.
Even quantitative measures like test scores and grades reflect externalities, and the idea that some sort of mathematical admissions formula based on those factors is inherently right and fair is fallacious.
Schools try to craft their classes to attain many different sorts of balance -- race, gender, talent in diverse areas, geographic origin, etc.
The children of families with historical ties to an institution may bring that institution real benefits, in terms of loyalty, financial support, and a sense of tradition and pride. If a legacy applicant is otherwise qualified, it makes sense to factor that into the admissions process.
Over time, given both the increased openess of admissions to diverse applicants and the other preferences used to fill out classes, the diversity of the legacy pool will increase.
How much weight should legacy status confer? As other considerations assume more importance in the admissions process, legacy status loses some of its value. That's a good thing. But requiring schools to do away with it completely would be not so good.
Disclosure: I went to same fine college as my father, uncle, and cousin, and that family tie deepens my loyalty to the school; I was admitted to another prestigious university to which I was also bound by family; my wife graduated from her father's alma mater, which Allen cites as a legacy-friendly place, although it seems relevant to point out that Lisa was a highly-qualified student and finished cum laude.
10:48:20 AM comment 
John Robinson is a popular guy...media organizations across the country are calling him to learn more about blogging: "I encourage them to tell their bosses to learn about it first before judging, to ignore what they think they know, based on what they've read in the mainstream press."
9:37:09 AM comment 
Country cooking from country to country, or, Why Greensboro is a better place to eat than many larger cities: you can get a nice lamb rogan josh at Saffron, as Lisa and I did last night...and still find places like Spring Valley Restaurant, where I filled up on chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, and 42 glasses of tea at lunch yesterday.
UPDATE: As Roch points out in the comments below, I also had the blackberry cobbler at lunch. And it was good.
9:24:02 AM comment 
I'm headed for a redesign myself. I really need a hosted service, Radio has served me well but life on my own hard drive is just to confining and precarious. TheShu and Ruby love them some WordPress, but they are more tech-adept than I, who am leaning toward TypePad.
9:06:02 AM comment