[The Center for Equal Opportunity is an educational, non-profit organization, which supports the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative. On October 8, 2008, the Center published a Special Report on Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Admission at the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2006 and 2007. Here is the section of the report that shows how much an applicant's probability of admission rises or falls depending upon his/her race or ethnicity. Following this section are comments about the report to the press by Dean Willborn of the College of Law. Curtis Crawford]
Probabilities of Admission
The meaning of logistic regression equations and their associated odds ratios may be difficult to grasp because the equations are complex and hard to explain without resorting to mathematical formulations. A more intuitive way to grasp the underlying dynamic of preferential admissions is to convert these logistic regression equations into estimates of the probabilities of admission for individuals with different racial/ethnic group membership, given the same LSAT scores and grades. In this section, we compare the probabilities of admission for individuals belonging to these different groups, using the logistic regression equation specific to each year. The probability calculations provide an estimate of the admission chances for members of each group, all with the same test scores, undergraduate grades, residency status, and sex.
We chose to examine the probabilities for an in-state male applicant with the same LSAT score and undergraduate GPA as the median for black admittees for 2006 and 2007.(1) The same set of test scores and undergraduate GPAs were entered for blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians. Chances of admission were then calculated for a black applicant, a white applicant, a Hispanic applicant, and an Asian applicant with those academic qualifications. These calculations do not change the statistical results reported in the earlier section on odds ratios, but they do provide an easier-to-understand interpretation of their meaning.
The differences in odds ratios illuminate large differences in the probability of admission based on an applicant's race. The probability of admission is presented in Table 4. It shows the probability of admission for blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and whites, for the same test scores and grades in a particular year.
Figure 5 . Probabilities of Admission *
Figure 5 shows the likelihood of admission for the four groups, divided into in-state and out-of-state applicants. Applicants were assumed to have an LSAT score and college GPA equal to the average score and GPA of black admittees in 2006 and 2007. (2) The extremely large weight given to race and ethnicity can be particularly appreciated when comparing the likelihood of admission of black, Hispanic, Asian, and white in-state applicants with out-of-state applicants of the same racial and ethnic groups, all with the same academic credentials as the average black admittee. The odds ratios favoring blacks and Hispanics over whites, (3) for example, are larger than the 7 to 1 odds ratio favoring Nebraska residents over non-residents (controlling for all other factors).(4)
Accordingly, the results are that, with the same credentials as the average black admittee, Hispanic, Asian, and white residents were all less likely to be admitted compared to black residents . Additionally, Asian and white residents were less likely to be admitted compared to black and Hispanic non-residents .
In 2006, black residents with the same test scores and grades as the average black admittee had a 79% chance of admission, while black non-residents had a 35% chance.
Hispanic in-state applicants in 2006 had a 43% chance of admission – a smaller chance of admission compared to black in-state applicants, with a 79% chance of admission. Hispanic in-state applicants in 2006 however had a greater chance of admission than black out-of-state applicants, with a 35% chance of admission.
Asian residents in 2006 with the same credentials as the average black admittee had a 5% chance of admission, compared to a 79% chance for black residents and a 35% chance for black non-residents. The 2006 Asian in-state probability was also smaller than the admission chances of both in-state and out-of-state Hispanics (43% and 10%, respectively).
White in-state applicants in 2006 with the same credentials as the average black admittee had the smallest chance of admission among all in-state applicant groups (1%). It was much smaller compared to the 79% chance of admission for in-state blacks, the 43% chance for in-state Hispanics, and the 5% chance for in-state Asians. Moreover, white in-state applicants had less of a chance of admission compared to out-of-state blacks (35%) and Hispanics (10%), and the same chance of admission as out-of-state Asians (1%) with the same credentials.
In 2007, black in-state applicants with the same credentials as the average black admittee had a 93% chance of admission, while black out-of-state applicants had a 67% chance.
Hispanic in-state applicants in 2007 had a 74% chance of admission – smaller than the chances for black in-state applicants (93%) but larger than the chances for out-of-state blacks (67%).
Asian in-state applicants in 2007 had a 15% chance of admission, compared to a 93% chance for in-state blacks and a 74% chance for in-state Hispanics. The Asian in-state admission probability was also much smaller than the chances for out-of-state blacks and Hispanics (67% and 29%, respectively).
White in-state applicants in 2007 had the smallest admission probability of all racial and ethnic groups in Nebraska. White in-state applicants had a 3% chance of admission, compared to a 93% chance for in-state blacks, a 74% chance for in-state Hispanics, and a 15% chance of admission for in-state Asians. The 3% chance of admission for in-state whites was also smaller than the admission chances of out-of-state blacks (67%) and Hispanics (29%) with identical credentials, and was the same as Asian out-of-state applicants (3%).
2. The median LSAT score for black admittees was 146 in 2006 and 148 in 2007. The median college GPA for black admittees was 3.1 in 2006 and 3.3 in 2007. [return to text]
3. 442 to 1 and 90 to 1, respectively. [return to text]
4. Gender gives an applicant no substantial advantage, with an odds ratio of women over men by 1.2 to 1. [return to text]
[The complete Center report is here.]
RESPONSE OF DEAN WILLBORN TO THE CEO REPORT
[According to an Associated Press report, published by the Columbus, Nebraska Telegram, Oct. 13, 2008, the Law College's dean made the following comments in response to the Center's claims.]
Law school Dean Steven Willborn questioned the statistics that were the basis of the group's findings. He said the college did not provide the group with information that showed the race and ethnicity of students.
Willborn acknowledged, however, that race is a factor in admissions decisions. “We give preference to people within racial and ethnic categories,” Willborn said. “The only way we can provide a good education to all our students is to provide a climate ... where there's a whole bunch of diverse points of view.” For that reason, Willborn said, he didn't have a problem with the admitting minority students who may have lower test scores than white students.
Willborn said the center reached broad conclusions based on a small number of students. “They're talking about something like 14 or 15 African-Americans admitted to the law school, and that's why they want to change the constitution?” to prohibit affirmative action, Willborn said. The law college's admission policies, he said, are consistent with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003. In its decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the high court banned the use of rigid formulas that award points based on race for admission to the University of Michigan's undergraduate program and law school. But the court permitted colleges to consider race as part of a “holistic review” of every application. Willborn said considering race when admitting students is common at law colleges around the country.
[The complete AP report is here.]