More Data to Inform the UVa Seminar on Race

Earlier this week I asked, “Will UVa Provide the Data Needed for an Open Discussion about Race?” The University of Virginia is organizing a seminar to instruct faculty members about the history of race locally and nationally and current issues relating to health, educational and economic disparities. On the assumption that seminar participants will examine UVa’s role in race relations, I humbly suggested a few data points that should be considered.

I lacked hard data on several topics that I thought worth examining. But I have since been directed by a friendly source to two data sets. The first tells us the net price paid to attend the University of Virginia, broken down by income range. Net price takes the list price and deducts all sources of federal aid (Pell grants primarily), state assistance, and institutional assistance. The table above, taken from the College Navigator database maintained by the National Center for Educational Statistics, provides that information for UVa.

Entering full-time students from poor families (making less than $30,000 per year) paid an average net price of $9,463 in the 2015-16 school year to attend UVa. Students from affluent families (making more than $110,101) paid almost three times as much — $27,814. UVa kids from poor families pay considerably less than poor kids at, say, Norfolk State University, where the net tuition works out to $13,952.

How is that relevant to a discussion of race? Insofar as black students are statistically more likely than whites and Asians to come from poor families, they benefit disproportionately from UVa’s financial aid system. If we’re talking about the persistence of institutional racism at UVa, then a highly relevant data point is how much members of different racial/ethnic groups actually pay to attend. (College Navigator does not break down financial aid by race, but UVa undoubtedly has that information.)

A second data set tells us how likely African-Americans are to graduate from UVa within six years. I had speculated on the basis of incomplete information that the differential was about 6 or 7 percentage points. In fact, the disparity is only 4 percentage points.

Percentage of Full-time, First-time Students Who Began Their Studies in Fall 2010 and Received a Degree or Award Within 150% of “Normal Time” to Completion for Their Program

We can look at this data in two ways. If we adopted the approach of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s research on mortgage loan discrimination (See “Racism, Racism, Everywhere You Look“), we would emphasize that African-Americans are almost twice as likely as whites (9% compared to 5%) to drop out. Sounds like institutional racism to me! On the other hand, we could emphasize that African-Americans are only 4.4% less likely to graduate than whites. Sounds like African-Americans thrive at UVa!

One could dig even deeper, comparing the graduation rates of whites, Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans within the same income ranges. That would filter out the effects of socio-economic advantage and disadvantage.

To my mind, these data help provide a starting point for an honest, open discussion about race at UVa. We could broaden the conversation by developing comparable data for all public institutions of higher education in Virginia and by comparing UVa’s performance to that of other colleges and universities.

Will these data become part of the dialogue, or do the organizers of the seminar have some other approach in mind? I have no idea. But I would love to be a fly on the wall to find out.

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5 responses to “More Data to Inform the UVa Seminar on Race”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Jim says: “Will these data become part of the dialogue, or do the organizers of the seminar have some other approach in mind? I have no idea.”

    I have another idea:

    ““Check your privilege” is a meme that’s gained traction on college campuses and other venues where privileged people tend to gather. Loosely translated, it means “Shut up.”

    More specifically, it means that your attitudes, habits, values—and hence any idea you may express—are caused by the unearned privileges you enjoy based on your demographic classification. So, your mission—whether or not you choose to accept it—is to engage in self-criticism instead of conversation.

    Confused? Privilege theorists are here to help. They explain that privileges—whether material, social, or professional—come from being male, healthy, prosperous, safe, white-skinned, heterosexual, non-gender-dysphoric, or any number of things that cause you to experience the world in a different way than somebody who comes from a different category in today’s social matrix. If you’re still confused, you can consult this chart to keep score.

    Oh, one other thing. Even if you score low on privilege, you are still guilty (even more so) if you’ve “assimilated” into a culture that values the attitudes or habits associated with privilege. This means you need to further check your behavior and your language. Indeed, David Marcus explained in a recent Federalist essay how quickly privilege theory is infecting our language. Ironically, when we deem the speech of some more equal than the speech of others, the result is social inequality.” by Stella Morabito see:

    Of course this nonsense is everywhere in Academia today.

    So, for example, the American Political Science Association at its upcoming 2018 annual convention (shooting for 7000 attendees) will host a seminar on the subject of the Sexual Harassment going on at that very convention. This of course is after the association’s deep research and public findings that Trump already is the worse President ever in American History, and that Obama was a great president scoring in the top ten ahead of Ronald Reagan.

    These learned scholars, my friends, are the very same people who teach your children at UVA, Harvard, Yale, North Carolina, and every other elite university in America at tuition up to $70,000 a year per kid. And they are the same professors who use the great majority of the monies from your kid’s tuition to pay for their our private research that tells your kid that he or she is fatally flawed, a bigot by his or her very nature, while that professor also trashes your kid’s sitting presidents at every opportunity while also teaching rubbish based on that professor’s own extreme bias.

    1. Reed, I, too, fear that “check your privilege” rhetoric may predominate in UVa’s seminar on race, but we don’t know for a fact that it will. I’m inclined to give UVa the benefit of the doubt — assuming it innocent until proven guilty.

      UVa does have a decent number of conservative, moderate and liberal (in the old sense of open-minded) faculty members — more than many campuses. UVa is not Brown, Harvard or Berkeley. Whether these liberal-minded (as opposed to liberal) faculty will teach any sessions remains to be seen. Whether liberal-minded faculty will feel free to speak candidly also remains to be seen.

      But, as I say, innocent until proven guilty.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Jim, I agree in part, but largely disagree on this particular seminar.

        As I have said many time here and privately, I agree that UVa. by today’s standards has an unusually large number of excellent faculty members. I know this as a fact because I read much of their work, and indeed subscribe to it.

        That said, I believe what I report and opine on this blog. Of late, I am quite satisfied that UVA’s record on race and gender is quite abysmal and without good excuse, as evidenced by numerous events and reactions to events reported in detail on this blog since 1014, and as late as a week ago.

        Why should I expect change from UVA now? What has happened for me to expect change from this current crew and its record? Absolutely nothing.

        Based on its recent abysmal record up to and including the “offensive memes memo last week, UVA has not earned any benefit of my doubt. Life is not free. Actions and behavior have consequences. One cannot suspend judgement forever. Or live in a bubble, irrespective of events going on around you. Nor can one fail to speak plainly forever.

        But, as I mentioned privately to you earlier, I strongly suspect we will see substantial positive change with the incoming President James. E. Ryan.

        I say that with confidence based on reading closely his very fine book. “Wait What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions.”

        If you can tell a man by the books he writes, why then in that case, UVA’s future is indeed going to be a very fortunate one. Let’s hope so.

  2. djrippert Avatar

    The whole white privilege hallucination dies on the horns of Asian-American success. It would also doe if any of its adherents had the gumption to travel to southwest Virginia and try to explain how the privilege of whiteness is translating to economic gains in that neck of the woods. I guess its more comfortable to yammer about white privilege inside Mr Jefferson’s Academical Village than to go to desperate parts of rural America and see for yourself.

    I do believe that people should be aware of their economic privilege. That’s definitely a factor in life’s outcomes. I just don’t think it’s a racial matter beyond the extent that, statistically speaking, a higher percentage of Asian – Americans and white Americans are likely to have above average incomes and net worth.

    Something tells me that Malia Obama won’t suffer any negative consequences from being an African-American.

  3. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    One man who speaks with particular elegance and authority on this subject, as he has lived it and devoted much of his life probing it, is Shelby Steele.

    Hear his podcast, for example, found at: Shelby Steele On “How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country”

    On his recent book: Shame: “How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country”

    Or his recent extract from that book found at:

    Then read David Marcus’s March 10, 2015 article in the Federalist titled “Privilege Theory Destroys The American Ideal of Equality.”

    Then ask yourself if this weekend’s upcoming seminar that is organized by the University of Virginia “to instruct faculty members about the history of race locally and nationally and current issues relating to health, educational and economic disparities” is a political maneuver cooked up by those in control at UVA in their effort to control the thoughts, language, writings and teaching by its faculty, and an effort to control and dictate how and what they teach UVA students?

    Then ask yourself how is this weekend’s seminar at UVA devoted to “instructing” UVA faculty is any different from the actions of any totalitarian regime? Who appointed these people to instruct others? And why?

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