I greatly dislike randomness. So much so, that at one point in my life I committed to completely ignoring it as some of you may have read in my last article. While I did a good job ignoring it, and I recommend trying to do so yourself, that does not mean it goes away. Crazy random things happen all the time and we can never stop that, there is some measurement of randomness to just about everything. What rubs me the wrong way, is when randomness is instituted where randomness has no place.
One of the latest bills President Trump has backed is the new immigration reform bill. The bill would raise the expectations for what is currently in place and expect more of immigrant’s attributes coming into the United States. Immigrants would be compared to one another via a points system that accounts for levels of education, English fluency/ability, salary offers, prior achievements, and more in Trump’s wheelhouse, entrepreneurial initiative. The bill would also completely nix the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also referred to as the green card lottery. A program that allowed those trying to immigrate to the United States of countries with low immigration levels in the previous five years to be placed in a lottery that would select 50,000 applicants.
As you may venture to guess, I don’t particularly like lotteries as they are random. Especially when it comes to something as important as immigration. I like the fact that Trump is moving in a direction that incentivises those trying to come into the country to up their game on many fronts in order to boost their scores in the different skills categories. Mostly if anything, as I don’t think this bill gets very far as is, I’d hope perhaps a revised bill is made that gets rid of the visa lottery. Randomness should not be involved in matters as important as this, and I can speak somewhat from experience.
My freshman year in college I took part in three lotteries. Two for course selection for my freshman spring semester and my sophomore fall semester, and another for housing selection for sophomore year. I got duped in every single one, getting selected to pick classes on the very last day both times, and getting a bottom 20 number out of 450 in housing selection. Subsequently I was unable to take 2000 level psychology courses(my major) until the second semester of my sophomore year, which subsequently left me not qualified to be inducted into Psi Chi this last winter due to not enough credits within the major.
There ended up being a real consequence for the randomness that was the course selection lottery freshman year. You may be asking now, well why did you deserve to pick before any other given student? Sure you got unlucky to get the last day both times, but why should you deserve to pick before others? I was sitting at roughly a 3.9 GPA when all these poor lottery outcomes took place. I’d propose instead of a lottery, something like GPA highest to lowest decides course selection picking day. 4.0-3.0 picks the first day, 2.9-2.0 the second, and below 1.9 the last day. This would perhaps incentivise students to strive for better grades as it would mean more than just their GPA, but whether they get into that class they really want.
After freshman year you pick by number of credits, which is a good system, and one I took advantage of by taking an extra class or two here and there so I had a good day compared to my classmates. However, the system in place for freshman will continue to leave students like myself, who felt they did everything to deserve priority in their hard work and academic success, wondering why they had to pick after students with grades barely good enough to keep them eligible to come back the next semester.
Fundamentally lottery systems serve as a completely “fair” way of determining an outcome as naturally every participant has the same odds of any given outcome. However, there will always be a party that will receive the short end of the stick. Having a lottery system only serves as a way to exempt the party administering the system of the burden of being unfair.
By having it be random, they can’t be charged with being unfair, as they could be if say they implemented the GPA system I suggested. They would be “unfair” to those with poor GPA’s. But if the same if generally the same amount of students will be chosen to select classes on days one, two and three, then are two not in the same when it comes to the result.
I will always argue to remove randomness where it need not be, because while randomness is inherently fair in a vacuum, college course selection, and immigration is not said vacuum, and merit ought to be put in place in deciding important matters rather than leaving them to chance.