Foundation Friday: Solving What Can Be Solved

An elegant and appropriate use of foundation asset-power: supporting efforts of African-American alumni of UCLA to restore the campus’s black enrollment, decimated by a state referendum prohibiting consideration of race in admissions decisions.  (If a referendum were really all it took to neutralize race as a factor in decision-making, the Nonprofiteer would happily endorse such an initiative; but as long as race continues to be a factor in who gets the goodies in our society–and repeated studies, documented in Commie rags like the Wall Street Journal, demonstrate that it still is, and that nonwhites are continuously and repeatedly disadvantaged by the fact–she’ll remain a supporter of affirmative action.)  The Wasserman and Gilbert Foundations, along with real-estate mogul Richard Ziman, are contributing to a scholarship fund created to support African-American students who choose UCLA.

It’s a superb investment–and the more so because so many foundations would have brushed off the problem-solving alumni by parroting back guidelines that exclude scholarships from the type of funding available–but let’s be clear about its limits.  UCLA remains powerless to admit a reasonable number of minority students.  All it can hope to do is attract an unreasonable, or at least disproportionate, number of the minority students it accepts; and the only way to do that–the only way to jack up its "yield"–is to wave huge quantities of money under the noses of those admitted students.  (Actually, UCLA can’t even do that: the scholarship funds will have to be administered by the donors, so they can be directed at the intended beneficiaries, who are, after all, identifiable by their skin color.)

Great: so UCLA won’t be so pasty this coming year.  While it’s good for the school if more African-American students choose it (more diverse student body, therefore better education for all), it really has no impact on the problem affirmative action was intended to solve, namely, a continued and continuing lack of opportunities for those African-American students who DON"T have five or six other colleges to choose from and therefore DON’T need to be bribed to attend UCLA, but DO have a particular need for the economic and educational advantages inherent in attending one of the state’s flagship public campuses.  Giving money to successful African-American students doesn’t solve that problem–in fact, it exacerbates the problem opponents of affirmative action are purporting to solve, namely, that the people who "really" need help (by whom the opponents apparently mean non-affluent white people) don’t get it while wealthy African-Americans get all the breaks.

Be that as it may, kudos to everyone who figured out how to solve a portion of the problem (disgracefully few African-American students on a flagship public campus) even while the whole problem (legal mandate leading to exclusion of African-Americans from public higher education) remains insoluble.

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