Admissions policies limit ethnic diversity

Take a look at this awesome piece from Tulane student Jessica Callahan on how Tulane’s admission policies contribute to its lack of ethnic diversity in the student population and what can be done to hold the university equitable:

Tulane University celebrated its 50th anniversary of desegregation last February with a number of panels and events. The topic continued to this year’s panel entitled “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion In Higher Education After Fisher V. University of Texas.” The March 19th panel discussed the ramifications of this court case in which Abigail Fisher filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas, claiming she was rejected from the school on the basis of racial discrimination. Fisher argued that as a white student, her potential spot at the university was given to a student of color because of the university’s affirmative action polices. This case is important in considering the future of diversity at universities across the country.

Panelists at Tulane’s event highlighted several key points. Cheryl Harris from the University of California, Los Angeles pointed out that the majority of racial discrimination cases in the U.S. come from white defendants like Fisher. The basis of many of these claims is that affirmative action policies give students of color an advantage over white students. Harris asserts, however, that we continue to live in a society in which racial inequity is institutionalized, and affirmative action policies have been enacted in recognition of this overall inequity. Claims against affirmative action assume that we live in a race-neutral society, in which all people are afforded equal access to good schools, Advanced Placement courses and academic resources. A quick glance into any Tulane classroom is proof that this is not the case. Tulane’s admissions website does not provide available statistics on the racial demographics of its student body, but tells us that Tulane is 72.4 percent white, 10 percent black, 3.9 percent Asian and 5.9 percent Latino. A student population that is almost three-fourths white is not diverse. Legally, universities are not allowed to put a number on how many students of color must be enrolled in order for the institution to be considered diverse. Instead, affirmative action policies require that schools reach a “critical mass” of students of color. It is unclear what qualifies as a critical mass, but it seems common sense that less than 30 percent is still a significant minority. It is evident that even with affirmative action policies in place, Tulane is still not diverse.

Full piece here.