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State of Things
Wed February 1, 2012
Affirmative Action and Academic Performance
A new study about racial differences in academic performance at Duke University is creating controversy – and it isn’t even published yet. Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono and his colleagues reported that African-American students are more likely to change from being math and science majors to programs in the humanities or social sciences at a higher rate than their white counterparts. The study also suggests that the switch to less rigorous majors was largely responsible for why the grade point averages of black undergraduates ultimately became comparable to GPAs of white students as they progressed through school. Duke’s Black Student Alliance organized a protest in reaction to the research and the study has drawn heated reactions from others in the Duke community. Host Frank Stasio reviews the report and the response to it with Arcidiacono, a professor of economics at Duke; William “Sandy” Darity, chair of Duke’s African and African-American Studies Department and Arts and Sciences Professor of Public Policy, and Economics; and Nana Asante, a Duke senior and president of the university’s Black Student Alliance.