UW-Madison policy calls on professors to distribute grades based on race

Katherine Timpf
The Claremont Independent

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  • The new policy was implemented this spring.
  • Policy calls for "proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups...including...in the distribution of grades."
  • A new policy at the University of Wisconsin - Madison states that good grades should be distributed equally among students of different races.

    The policy, named the “Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence,” calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

    "Under the ‘equity’ policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their ‘difference’ group."   

    UW - Madison professor W. Lee Hansen wrote about his concerns with the policy in a piece published Wednesday.

    “Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, ‘historically underrepresented racial/ethnic’ students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students,” he wrote.

    Lee’s piece also points out that being concerned with how many students of each race select a particular major could keep students from picking the major they want.

    “Suppose there were [sic] a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science,” he wrote. “Under the ‘equity’ policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their ‘difference’ group.”

    Via National Review.

    UPDATE: Professor Patrick Sims, Chief Diversity Officer and interim vice provost for Diversity and Climate at the University of Wisconsin - Madison released a statement Wednesday clarifying news reports of race-based redistribution of grades.

    "The idea that UW-Madison will begin to base student grading or the make-up of programs or majors on race or ethnicity has circulated on the Internet," Sims wrote, "[n]othing could be further from the truth."

    "This proportional and equitable distribution of grades arises (without intervention at the time of grading) by fostering living and learning spaces that are inclusive of historically marginalized students so that they can do their best learning and earn better grades; not through the “redistribution” of artificially-enhanced grades."

    The concern, originally addressed by Professor Hansen, originates from the UW System Inclusive Excellence framework, a separate document, adopted by the Board of Regents in 2009.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf



    Katherine Timpf

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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