Tag Archives: diversity

Quotas by any other name

I received the following from Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, 2 days ago.  My comments are at the end.  I’d be interested in what readers think about the issue. Click “Post a Comment” at the end to do so.

Harvard University - Office of the President

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In the weeks and months ahead, a lawsuit aimed to compromise Harvard’s ability to compose a diverse student body will move forward in the courts and in the media. As the case proceeds, an organization called Students for Fair Admissions—formed in part to oppose Harvard’s commitment to diversity—will seek to paint an unfamiliar and inaccurate image of our community and our admissions processes, including by raising allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to Harvard College. These claims will rely on misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context. Their intent is to question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and to advance a divisive agenda. Please see here for more information about the case.

Year after year, Harvard brings together a community that is the most varied and diverse that any of us is likely ever to encounter. Harvard students benefit from working and living alongside people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives as they prepare for the complex world that awaits them and their considerable talents.

I have affirmed in the past, and do so again today, that Harvard will vigorously defend its longstanding values and the processes by which it seeks to create a diverse educational community. We will stand behind an approach that has been held up as legal and fair by the Supreme Court, one that relies on broad and extensive outreach to exceptional students in order to attract excellence from all backgrounds.

As this case generates widespread attention and comment, Harvard will react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence—and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process. A diverse student body enables us to enrich, to educate, and to challenge one another. As a university community, we are bound across differences by a shared commitment to learning, to pursuing truth, and to embracing the rigor and respect of argument and evidence. We never give up on the promise of a world made better by an assumption revisited, an understanding expanded, or a truth questioned—again and again and again.

Last month, I presided over our Commencement Exercises for a final time and reveled in the accomplishments of our graduates and alumni, and in the joy and pride of the faculty who educated them, the staff who enabled their manifold successes, and the family members who helped nurture them and their aspirations. Tercentenary Theatre was filled with individuals from the widest range of backgrounds and life experiences. It was a powerful reminder that the heart of this extraordinary institution is its people.

Now, we have an opportunity to stand together and to defend the ideals and the people that make our community so extraordinary. I am committed to ensuring that veritaswill prevail.

Sincerely,
Drew Faust 

© 2018 The President and Fellows of Harvard College | Harvard.edu

Harvard University | Massachusetts Hall | Cambridge, MA 02138

Dr Faust:

You are not defending diversity — you are defending quotas against Asians as Harvard did against Jews years ago — and I’m not Asian

 M. S.  Chemistry 1962
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Back from the 50th Med School Reunion

Mostly some social notes from my 50th Med School reunion (Penn), but first some serious science.

I did two years of graduate work in chemistry between college and med school, and one of the guys I taught organic to is an academic research neurologist. He told me that they had some encouraging results using antisense oligonucleotides to remove the excessive repeat CTGs from myotonin, the gene defective in myotonic dystrophy. They were able to get it into cells, and even showed some clinical benefit in animal models. So he’s still using chemistry.

Myotonic dystrophy is one of the few triplet expansion diseases that makes sense to me, because unlike most of them, it affects a wide variety of tissues, not just the nervous system.

Just about everyone had a great time at the reunion. On entering med school I was told, that I’d know my classmates better than my spouse. Well, I certainly spent more time with them in the clinical years.

It was a happy time and yet sad as well, as we all knew that this was probably the last time we’d all see each other.

The previous post https://luysii.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/off-to-the-50th/ had a lot about (the lack of) minority representation back then.

Things have improved, as there is now an office of diversity (so Penn is now doing more than paying hypocritical lip service to it — vide Elizabeth Warren).

Our Nigerian classmate came back. He’d spent 17 years back home in Africa but left because he was unable to fight the corruption there, even as a native son. He hassled a black medical student from Africa, finding that she was of the Yoruba tribe, telling her to go back and serve her country (at least for a while).
So things have improved, but not enough. An an affair Friday night, all 5 or so of the blacks present were sitting at the same table. I barged in saying I was bringing some diversity to their table, and initially got some strange looks. But then I told them a few of the events of the previous post and they warmed up. At least the country is  now getting the benefit of their brains.

We’ll know things have really improved, when black physicians feel comfortable enough to mingle with the crowd.

About 65 of the 125 of us were back. Only 18 people were listed as having died, which seems like a very small number for a group of 125 26 year olds 50 years later. I do know of one unreported death of a classmate from AIDS.

This is actually nothing new — and here are my notes on a study done nearly 30 years ago. My speculation is that, docs get a lot of reinforcement, seeing the effects of negative health choices. I doubt that all of it is due to social or economic class, although some must be.

****

[ J. Am. Med. Assoc. vol. 259 p. 3158 ’88 ] This is an overview of the Physicians’ Health study in which 22,000 American physicians took either aspirin or placebo in a double blind study. They were only taking 5 grains of aspirin every other day. Cardiovascular mortality was cut, but overall mortality was not. However the group experienced just 88 deaths when 733 would have been expected. . This may be due to a beneficial life style, or social class. Thus the EIGHTFOLD lower mortality throughout makes the study harder to interpret. Amazingly, the authors of the study don’t really focus on why the study group (even those on placebo) did so well, but whether the aspirin added anything extra. What we need is to reduce mortality in our patients eightfold and then worry about giving aspirin.

****

Here is a tale of the bad old days for the feminists among you. There were under 10 women in our class of 125. One very bright woman wanted to be a surgeon. She asked Dr. Everett Koop about it. This was when Koop was basically inventing the specialty of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and long before he became Surgeon General.

He gave her some very hard and very honest advice (this was Koop after all). He told her that the first rate surgery residencies simply were not accepting women. To rise to the true level of her ability, she’d need to choose something else. She didn’t like this one bit, but did follow his advice, went into another field and became department chair at another Ivy League med school.

Lastly two stories about the All American basketball player in our Class (Jerry Gardner Kansas ’62). He’s about 6′ 2″ now, and using a cane as he’d had hip surgery a few months ago. He did note that back then Freshman weren’t allowed to play, so he still has a year of eligibility left. Jerry went to NIH after graduation and established a lab studying GI hormones.

Further proving that time does not heal all wounds, Jerry reminisced about the two foul shots he missed at the tail end of a game in the NCAA final (or semifinal) which might have won them the game. For further examples of the phenomenon see — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/time-does-not-heal-all-wounds/

Warren, Harvard and Penn — Sanctimony, Hypocrisy and Fraud

I find the behavior of Elizabeth Warren, Harvard and Penn incredibly disturbing and sad.  It’s the perfect storm of sanctimony, hypocrisy and fraud. I imagine that I’m a lot older than the readership, so let’s revisit the bad old days of the 50’s and 60s to see how things were back then and why the behavior of all three besmirches heroic attempts to set things right.

Fall 1956:  Enter Princeton along with 725+ others.  The cast of characters included about 5 Asians, 1 Indian Asian, no hispanics and/or latinos as I recall, and all of 2 blacks.  I was the first to attend from a small (212 kids in 4 grades) NJ High School. I’d never been west of Philly, and immediately appreciated what passed for diversity back then — a roommate from Florida, and 2 guys next door from Wisconsin and Tennessee, the four of us packed like sardines into two miniscule rooms (each of which is now a single).

Although my High School was above the Mason Dixon line, there was only 1 black student in all 4 classes when I was there.  A 2nd cousin who graduated 6 years before I entered, noted that there were NO blacks when she was there and asked why, and was told “we don’t encourage them to attend”.   To be fair, there were very few black families in the area.

So, because we were musicians, and in the marching band, I got to know one of the blacks.  At away games there were postgame parties  (what’s the point of having games after all?).  Girls would come up to Harvey and tell him that he must meet Virginia, she’s wonderful. etc. etc.  Virginia being the black girl at their school, as Harvey was the black boy at ours.  There was no condescension involved, and I never saw anyone at Princeton give Harvey a hard time, and we had plenty of southerners.  It was the way things were, and we had no idea that things could be different.

Spring 1958: Back at the H. S.  The one black girl in the class 2 years behind me was very smart.  She graduated as the Salutatorian.  However, she should have been the Valedictorian, the powers that be having decided that it wouldn’t do to have a black in that position.  That didn’t stop her of course. The high school was so small that it was folded into a regional H. S. the next year.  So our little school has reunions every 5 years or so for anyone who ever went there, and I saw her 40 – 50 years later.  She’d become a very high powered R. N. with a very responsible position.

Fall 1960: Harvard Chemistry department.  Not a black, not a latino, not an Asian to be found in the grad school (there was one Sikh).  I don’t recall seeing any as undergraduates.  There were a fair number of Japanese, and Asian Indian postdocs however.  Fast forward to the present for what it looks like now — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/the-harvard-chemistry-department-reunion-part-i/.

Fall 1962: Entering Penn Med school — 125 students, one black (a Nigerian) no latinos/hispanics, no asians of any sort, under 10 women.  They really can’t be blamed for this, the pipeline was empty.

Summer 1963: Visiting my wife to be at her home in Alexandria Virginia.  A drive perhaps 10 – 20 miles south toward Richmond finds restaurants with Colored entrances.

2008:  My wife has a cardiac problem, and the cardiologists want her to be on coumadin forever, to prevent stroke.  As a neurologist having seen the disasters that coumadin and heparin could cause when given for the flimsiest of indications (TIAs etc. etc.), I was extremely resistant to the idea, and started reading the literature references the cardiologist gave me, along with where the references led.   The definitive study on her condition had been done by a black cardiologist from Kentucky.  We had a long and very helpful talk about what to do.

Diversity is not an end in itself, although some would like it to be.  I’ve certainly benefitted from knowing people from all over.  That’s not the point.  Like it or not, intelligence is hereditary to some extent (people argue about just how much, but few think that intelligence is entirely environmental).  The parents (grandparents) of today’s blacks , are likely just intelligent as their MD, Attorney, teacher etc. etc. offspring today.  This country certainly pissed away an awful lot of brains of these generations.   So clearly, I’m all for letting the best into our elite institutions whatever they look like.

This is why Warren, and the behavior of Harvard and Penn is such a perversity.

First the sanctimony.  Many at Harvard think they are head, neck and groin above you in every sense, intellectual and moral.  Do not think for a minute that their previous rejection of a military presence on campus had anything to do with the military’s treatment of gays.  It was a cover for their antiwar and antimilitary  agenda (present when I was there ’60 -’62 long before Vietnam).  They were what my father called “Bible-backed Bastards”, using scripture as cover for what they wanted to do.

Second and Third.  That Warren would claim to be Indian and that Penn and Harvard would tout her as evidence of their commitment to diversity, is hypocritical in the extreme and fraudulent as well.

Well, it’s just another scam.like all the rest. Isn’t it?  We’ve got State Troopers sitting on their ass in their cars with lights flashing on the Mass. Pike at construction sites.  We’ve got politically connected drones handing out tickets on the Pike standing next to machines which do the job when they’re not around.  No one seems to mind.  It may be one of the reasons unenlightened Florida and Texas grew faster in the last 10 years and acquired one of our representatives (along with 5 more from NY, NJ, Illinois and Pennsylvania).

But it isn’t like the rest.  It perverts something the country needed to do and gives arms to those opposing it.  Ironic that it wasn’t done by rednecks, but by the very institutions that led the charge.