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2020 August 1

UC is implementing anti-Asian policies

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:58
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Two decisions made by the Regents of the University of California this year initially made no sense to me.

Eliminating SAT/ACT.

In January 2019, at the request of the President of the University of California, the Standardized Testing Task Force started studying whether the known disparities in outcome for SAT tests was hurting low-income students, first-in-family students, or students form underrepresented minorities (Hispanic, Black, or Native American) from gaining acceptance to UC.

Their report came out in January 2020 and is available at

The report looked at the data very carefully and came to some surprising conclusions:

It is true that the racial mix of students admitted into the freshman class at UC is quite different from the racial mix of high school seniors from the same year. Consider the groups that UC collectively refers to as Underrepresented Minorities (URM): Latino, African-American students and Native American students. In 2017-18, these groups constituted 59.1% of high school seniors in California, but only 37.0%of UC admits among California residents.

The second question is whether this 22.1 percentage point gap arises due to UC admissions decisions. The Task Force considered this in detail. Figure 3C-7 shows that about one-quarter of the gap is due to the admissions decisions of the UC campuses, but the remaining three-quarters of the gap relates to outcomes that occur before UC admissions officers read files. The single biggest factor is that relatively few of the students in the three underrepresented racial/ethnic groups complete the A-G coursework that both UC and CSU require for students to become eligible to apply. The other key factors include differences in the rates of graduation from high school and in applying to UC.

The fact that admission decisions explain only about one-quarter of the disparity in racial mix of high school seniors and admitted UC freshmen is important, but a reasonable person could wonder whether this contribution, although relatively small, might indeed indicate bias of some sort against applicants from some groups relative to others in admissions itself. We will look into this in responses to some of the questions below.

So there is some imbalance in who gets admitted, but only about a quarter of that is due to the UC admissions decisions—and even less is due to the standardized tests:

To re-state this more simply, large inter-group differences in SAT scores do not translate into major differences across student groups in admission rates at UC. This is probably the most important finding the Task Force has made in its data analyses.

Relying more on high-school GPA after eliminating SAT scores is likely to hurt minority students, rather than help them:

Given the Task Force’s findings that the SAT scores are evaluated in a way that effectively renormalizes scores to take disadvantage into account, SAT scores do not appear to play a big role in differences in admission rates between disadvantaged and advantaged groups. Other admission factors play a role in reducing the share of disadvantaged groups that are selected in the admissions process (as well as in reducing the share of disadvantaged groups in the admissions pool). A prime example is high school GPA. The report shows that variations in GPA matter more than variations in SAT in explaining admission rates.

Of course, the Office of the President then proceeded to ignore the data and the report and push for eliminating the SAT, even knowing that doing so would hurt minority applicants.  They convinced the Regents to go along with this.  Why would they do this?  Were they so convinced of their prior beliefs that they ignored every evidence that contradicted them, or were the never interested in helping minority students in the first place, but just using them as an excuse for a policy that had an entirely different motive?

If it is not to assist the admission of under-represented minorities, then perhaps the point is to reduce the admissions of the group that has the highest average SAT scores—the Asian-Americans.

Asking to repeal Prop. 209

UCOP also persuaded the Regents to call for a repeal of Prop. 209, which had added the following text to the California constitution:

SEC. 31. (a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
(b) This section shall apply only to action taken after the section’s effective date.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex which are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as invalidating any court order or consent decree which is in force as of the effective date of this section.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting action which must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, where ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.
(f) For the purposes of this section, ”state” shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the state itself, any city, county, city and county, public university system, including the University of California, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the state.
(g) The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of then-existing California antidiscrimination law.
(h) This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with federal law or the United States Constitution, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that federal law and the United States Constitution permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

The reason was so that the University could re-institute racial preferences (which they refer to as Affirmative Action).  How badly are racial preferences needed to rebalance the student body?

According to in Fall 2019, the undergraduate enrollment across all the UC campuses was

category ugrads@UC percentage of non-international
International 29754
Unknown 5855 2.98%
White 48433 24.66%
Asian/Pacific Islander 75676 38.54%
Hispanic/Latinx 55971 28.50%
Black 9371 4.77%
Native American 1065 0.54%

How does this compare with California population?  According to, the California population consists of

category percentage UC%/population%
Unknown or multiple races 4% 0.75
White 36.5% 0.68
Asian/Pacific Islander 16% 2.41
Hispanic/Latinx 39.4% 0.72
Black 6.5% 0.73
Native American 1.6% 0.34

So all groups except Asian/Pacific Islander are underrepresented, and whites are more underrepresented than Blacks or Hispanics.  (The Native Americans are the most underrepresented—they have always been treated the worst by the American educational system.)

So the push for racial preferences clearly has a single target—reducing the representation of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Update 2020 Aug 4:  John W pointed me to statistics on the ethnic distribution of California high-school graduates from 2014 (, a somewhat better baseline to compare with because of the rapidly changing demographics of California.

category HS number HS % UC%/HS%
Unknown or multiple races 10,314 2.45% 1.22
White 120,855 28.66% 0.86
Asian/Pacific Islander 57,687 13.68% 2.82
Hispanic/Latinx 203,894 48.36% 0.59
Black 26,056 6.18% 0.77
Native American 2,830 0.67% 0.80

The adjusted numbers show underrepresentation of Hispanics, more overrepresentation of Asian-Americans, but whites and Native Americans are no longer showing strong underrepresentation.  The overall conclusion—that the target of racial preferences is predominantly Asian-Americans—is not really changed.

The whole point of both admissions policies being pushed this year is anti-Asian sentiment.  It is not to help the under-represented minorities, but to discriminate against Asian-Americans.

This interpretation makes perfect sense of both decisions.  UCOP and the Regents knew that they couldn’t get away with saying that they wanted to reduce the admission of Asian-Americans, nor that the group they wanted to help was the white students, so they had to pretend that they were helping the under-represented minorities.

They didn’t care what the conclusion of the STTF report was—they already knew that SAT scores helped Asian-Americans, and they did not care what happened to the under-represented minorities.  They were hoping for a fig leaf to cover their naked anti-Asian attitudes and were no doubt disappointed that the data did not provide them one.

The whole mess looks a lot like the biased admissions of the 1950’s, when various non-academic criteria were added by many elite universities, in order to exclude the Jewish students who were performing the best on all the academic criteria.  We are seeing the same game being played out today, with Asian-American students in the role of the Jewish students.


2020 May 29

Misleading by UC’s President

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:46
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It is clear in Janet Napolitano’s latest e-mail to the faculty that she is first and foremost a politician and not an academic leader.  It is a good thing that she is retiring, though I have no faith that the recruitment process for her successor will find anyone better.  In her email, she says:

Changing the standardized testing requirement for undergraduates

Earlier this month, the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved my recommendation that UC suspend the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024.

This is the culmination of an intense, two-year, research-based effort to evaluate the value and use of standardized tests in admissions, beginning in 2018 when I asked the Academic Senate to evaluate the issue. I am grateful for the dedicated and diligent efforts of the members of the Standardized Testing Task Force, and all involved in this effort.

What she doesn’t say is that her recommendation was the exact opposite  of what the task force recommended.  She completely ignored the “research-based effort” and went with her gut.  One would almost think she was a Republican.

The task force studied the data carefully and found that the way the SAT was being used for UC admissions resulted in it being a useful predictor of retention and college completion, that it was more predictive for under-represented minorities, and that it helped under-represented minorities gain admission.  Essentially all the arguments against using the SAT turned out not to be supported by the data. (Disclaimer: I’ve only read summaries of the report, not the report itself, so I may have gotten a distorted view of it.)

But Janet Napolitano ignored the task force report and went for a purely political gesture—one that makes the UC admissions process more opaque and more subject to manipulation by admissions officers to admit students based on their prejudices and whims.  If the elimination of the SAT is not rescinded by the next UC president, we are likely to see even more selection for white students than currently, as most of the alternatives to the SAT (like extracurricular activities and essay evaluation) are even more correlated with socio-economic status than the SAT is.

2017 August 21

UC salary numbers

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:12
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UC posts their entire payroll (redacting names for student jobs) each year.  The 2016 numbers can now be found at

I was curious about several things: who were the most highly paid at UCSC, how much coaches were paid (the top four payments systemwide were UCB and UCLA coaches), and how my pay corresponds to my colleagues.

Most highly paid

UCSC had 87 people paid $200,000 or more in 2016.  The most highly paid was Chancellor Blumenthal at $396,866 (though I don’t think tat includes the value of his housing and other perks). There were about 24 administrators in this group, though many of them are technically also faculty, even if they aren’t currently teaching.  All five of those who make over $300,000 are faculty, though only one of the five (Lederman) is listed as a professor, rather than by an administrative title.

A surprising number of those paid over $200,000 were astronomers—they get paid more than I expected.  The highest-paid faculty who are not also listed as administrators are Lederman, Madau, and Lin (all physics, astrophysics, or astronomy).

Although I think that a few of those making over $200,000 are overpaid, the numbers are not ridiculous (unlike the millions spent for some of the employees at UCB and UCLA).


There are 671 employees across all campuses with “coach” in their title, with payments ranging from $125 to $3,577,299.  UCSC has 45 of them, but the pay range is only $1,708 to $74,902.  This does not count the 4 “ath trainer” positions at UCSC ($9,736–$43,447).

Coaches are not being paid generously at UCSC, so though I still think it unwise for students to be paying fees for supporting intercollegiate athletes (rather than physical education and recreation, which all can participate in), the coaches are not getting rich off the students (unlike UCB and UCLA, where 53 of the top-paid 60 UC coaches work).  If we add in the “ath mgr” positions, UCB comes out even worse.  A big chunk of UCB’s deficit comes from the stadium boondoggle, but UCB continues to pour money down the athletics rathole.

I’m glad that UCSC is not wasting money at the rate that UCB and UCLA are, but I do wish that UCSC would return to the days when student athletes paid for their own entertainment, rather than taxing other students.


My pay is relatively modest—I came out 430th on the list for UCSC.  UCSC is listed as having paid 12,288 people in 2016, though many of those got only tiny amounts.  Of those getting $1000 or more, there were 10,480, of those making $21,000 or more (CA minimum wage at full time) there were 4,248, of those making $30,000 or more (UC’s theoretical $15/hour minimum at full time) there were 3,580.  So I’m estimating that I’m at around the 89th percentile for full-time workers at UCSC: a comfortable pay, but nothing extraordinary.  Among the professors at UCSC who are listed as professors (not administrators), I’m at 263 out of about 566: a little above the median (the total count includes faculty who were only there for part of the year or who had “visiting faculty” positions, but not “recall faculty” who have retired but are rehired to teach a course or two).

In the UC system as a whole, I’m at position 26,585 out of 141,138 making $30k or more (only about the 81%ile—the med-center campuses pay a lot more than UCSC does).


I was curious was postdocs get paid across the UC system and at UCSC.  The range is huge across the system from $14 to $255,950.  (The tiny amounts are probably not really pay—there are tiny reimbursements and honoraria that get counted as pay in the UC system.)  The huge amount is from UCSF, and probably comes from clinical work by an MD.

At UCSC the range is $557 to $70,833, similar to the range for coaches.  The median pay for postdocs at UCSC is $39,150.  This is just above what the City of Santa Cruz requires as a living wage (currently $16.21/hour plus benefits) and is reasonable for a single person, but not for someone supporting a child as well.

There are not many postdocs listed as such on the UCSC payroll (only 173), and many of them were probably there for only part of the year, so the number of postdocs on the payroll at one time is probably only 100–120.

Teaching Assistants

Graduate teaching assistants (“teachg asst” in the compensation database) are more numerous—there are 1003 listed (without names) for UCSC with payments from $91 to $41,927.  The median pay is $15,219.  Given that the median workload is 20 hours a week for 33 weeks, that is a respectable $23/hour, but it is not enough to live on in Santa Cruz.  MIT’s living wage calculator estimates that a single adult in Santa Cruz County needs about $27,779 before taxes (though the calculation probably needs to be fixed for grad students, as they do get some medical and transportation benefits that can reduce costs, but housing within reasonable distance of campus is more expensive than county-wide).

I was a little surprised to see the variation in how much TAs were paid at UCSC, as I thought that the pay scales were fixed.  Quite a few students got $14,995 (so that was probably the scale amount), but above that almost everyone had a different amount.  I wonder what made the differences?

2017 May 19

Baking in inequity in funding

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:11
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UCOP (University of California Office of the President) and the UC Regents recently decided to limit out-of-state students at UC campuses.  But they did not do so uniformly across all campuses.  They decided to let UCB, UCLA, UCSD, and UCI have more out-of-state students than the other campuses and to keep the extra tuition collected.

This continues a pattern that has been in place at least as long as the 31 years I’ve been at UCSC of ensuring that UCB and UCLA get more funding per student than the younger campuses.  I’ve seen no evidence that UCOP or the UC Regents have any intention of ever treating the campuses equitably.  Even when they are strongly pushed to do so, they find ways to weasel out and bake in extra money for UCB and UCLA (like the “rebenching” initiative, which was touted as redressing imbalances, but ended up making them worse).

2016 October 23

UCSC athletics “town hall”

A year and a half  ago, I wrote a post, I’m proud of UCSC undergrads, in which I praised UCSC undergrads for rejecting a fee to subsidize the approximately 250 Division III athletes on campus, and last Spring I wrote Not so proud of UCSC undergrads this year, when they voted 63% in favor of being asked if they would support a new fee of $270 a year to support the NCAA athletes (about $4.3 million for 16,000 students, or $14,000/athlete for the 300 NCAA athletes).

Last Spring, the Faculty Senate put together an ad hoc committee to report on athletics, but only those who strongly supported athletics volunteered to serve on it, so it came out with a very strongly pro-athletics report that I don’t believe honestly reflects faculty opinion. I particularly object to the claim

Perhaps more importantly, as faculty, we have great concern that the termination of UCSC student athletics, a program that distinguishes itself in the classroom and in competition, would signal to the world that we cannot maintain a first-class university.

That is BS of the highest order—being a first-class university has nothing to do with athletics, certainly not in the world outside the USA.  And even in the USA, a few Division III teams has nothing to do with the perception of the university.

Quite frankly, I find it shameful that the administration is spending $1million a year of unrestricted funds on NCAA athletics—that amount of money would hire instructors for about 100 more classes, helping about 3500 students, rather than 300.  The big advantage of sports on a campus comes from student participation, not being spectators, so funding models that provide facilities for intramurals and club sports that any student can participate in make much more sense than dedicating funding for a tiny number of privileged athletes.

Last Wednesday the Faculty Senate athletics committee had a “town-hall meeting”, ostensibly to get comments from students, but the audience consisted almost entirely of the NCAA athletes and their coaches, so turned into a “how can we get this passed?” rather than having students discussing whether it was a good idea.  The few students there who were not NCAA athletes were probably too intimidated by being surrounded by athletes to raise any objections—though one student did bravely ask what fraction of the students benefited from the student fee (a bit less than 2%).

There were some very strange ideas being passed around—like that students who weren’t athletes were getting sweetheart funding that the athletes should be getting instead (or perhaps as well).  The question was brought up of where engineering students got their funding from (which was not answered).  That one struck me as particularly strange, as engineering students generally end up either self-funding, crowd-funding, or getting funding from grants that faculty have spent years trying to get—they aren’t getting any handouts from the rest of the students!

A case in point: the iGEM project team needed about $25,000 for the 20-member team for the equipment, reagents, and travel to the iGEM conference. They raised this money through a crowd-funding campaign (which means that most of it came from family and friends).  The instructor’s salary was paid out of summer-school tuition (again, paid for by the team members, as there is no general-fund subsidy for summer school).  Rather than getting a $14,000 subsidy per team member like the athletes are asking for, they were paying out thousands of their own money to attend summer school to be on the team, and doing crowd-funding for the rest.  I have no objection to the NCAA teams running crowd-funding campaigns.

There is some industrial sponsorship for a few senior engineering capstone projects (maybe a quarter of all the capstone projects in the Baskin School of Engineering).  That sponsorship comes as a result of many years of hard work by faculty and administrators making contacts in industry and begging for support for student projects (and those projects come with several strings attached, sometimes including ownership of the students’ work by the sponsoring company, I believe).

Funding for student projects in engineering is much more like club sports than like NCAA athletics—essentially everything is paid for by the students involved, either directly or through fund-raising.  The same is largely true of other student groups on campus (theater groups, dance groups, artists, … ).  All the groups can apply for tiny amounts of money from student fees through the student government—only the NCAA athletes seem to feel that they deserve much, much more than that.

Theater and dance groups often need instructors, the same way that athletes need coaches, but there is no built-in funding for these instructors.  For the most part, they are paid for teaching courses, as OPERS coaches are—why should one group of instructors have a dedicated student fee, when others do not?

The NCAA athletes at UCSC are not dumb jocks—they have a higher GPA and graduation rate than the campus as a whole, so they must be aware that they are asking for very special privileges that are not given to other students.  Why do they or their coaches deserve special treatment?

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