Not enough discrimination for UC


It is ironic that  the University of California system is dropping National Merit Scholarships offered by the school because of lack of recipient diversity as diversity of another sort——some would call it outright discrimination——is built into the allocation of scholarships. 
When the National Merit Scholarship system was organized in the mid—1950s some of the officials were concerned that easterners, more specifically New Yorkers (read Jews) would win a disproportionate number of scholarships based purely on merit.  And so the powers that be instituted an early form of affirmative action:  instead of offering scholarships to those who scored in the upper 2%, they decided to distribute the scholarships to those who scored in the upper 2% in each state.  Therefore, each state was guaranteed Merit winners.
This raises some interesting questions:  What are the differences in scores state by state?  Would a Merit Scholarship winner in say, Mississippi qualify in say, New York?  Was it worth it for say, a New Yorker to travel to say, Mississippi to take the qualifying exam or for a Mississippi junior to delay moving to another, more academically endowed, state?  (No offense to Mississippi of course.Or to NY.  Or to Jews of course.)
About 15 years ago, the National Merit Corporation, concerned——and also prodded——because of the small number of black National Merit winners, set up a separate program just for self identified black students. If they didn't qualify for a Merit Scholarship, the highest black scorers received their own black Merit Scholarships.  Irish, Asians, Jews and other ethnic groups, needless to say, are not the beneficiaries of alternative ethnic Merit Scholarships.
When I asked about this, the Merit spokesperson replied with all sincerity this was not discrimination. 

Ethel C. Fenig   7 15 05