College diversity policies don’t extend to Asians, low-income whites, Junior ROTC officers or Idaho farm boys, writes Russell Nieli, who works for Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, on Minding the Campus.
A new study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford uses data from eight highly competitive public and private colleges and universities over three years.
To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550.
Low-income status improved the admissions chances for blacks, Hispanics and Asians, but not for whites. Private institutions were much more likely to admit affluent whites than disadvantaged whites with the same grades and test scores.
Private institutions, Espenshade and Radford suggest, “intentionally save their scarce financial aid dollars for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students.”
In the Bakke ruling Lewis Powell laid the groundwork for “diversity” admissions, Nieli points out. Powell wrote:
“A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.”
But the Ivy League doesn’t see Idaho farm boys or other red-staters as diverse. In most cases, extracurriculars help admission, especially for students in leadership roles, but that’s not true for Junior ROTC officers or 4-H or Future Farmers of America leaders, the study found. Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”
Update: New York Times columnist Ross Douthat cites Nieli and the Espenshade study in The Roots of White Anxiety.