Sunday, March 7, 2010

Diversity in the College Admission Process?

After class on Tuesday when we discussed Spelman’s article on the Ampersand Problem, I recalled my own experience looking for the “right” college and my acceptance into Rhodes. When I started my college search, there was always a specific fraction of how many percentages there are of certain races or males to females. Every college had this sort of demographic breakdown. Through my college selection process, people would say that I would get into any college I wanted regardless of my accomplishments and only on the basis that I am an Indian female because that will increase any college’s diversity. I was told the same thing when I got into Rhodes, that I got accepted because I was an Indian female and Rhodes is known to be a predominantly white school hence more ethnicities would diversify Rhodes College. I had never thought of my admission into Rhodes as a contributor to an institution’s fight against underlying discrimination or that my acceptance could have caused an equally qualified male not to be admitted. As we discussed in class, if you help one type of oppressed group you will unconsciously be enforcing another one. For example, I was admitted into Rhodes therefore, Rhodes had to overcome racism by giving me admission into the college; however, I might have been given admission while rejecting an equally qualified male. Therefore, even though the admissions department accepted a more racially diverse candidate, they did reject the male candidate, so sexism is advanced.

I wonder if we can apply this concept of trying to combat oppression to the concept of transparency and thickness, as seen in Lugones’s article, in regards to the college admission process. The aim for accepting ethnicities is to make campuses culturally more accepting. If admission into a college is based minutely on a person's nationality or race, then we are starting the process of college on the grounds of groups. There are certain people that will be represented as thick or transparent if we accept people on the basis of oppression groups; thus does the college admission process cause thick and transparent members in the group to form?

To clarify, I am not trying to say that Rhodes only accepts students on the basis of race or ethnicity but I am simply using Rhodes as an example. I might be completely off the mark but I am not sure how we can overcome issues such as sexism if we have this sort of a problem when dealing with the admission of oppressed or minority groups on a college level.

By putting an emphasis on diversity we are in fact enforcing groups within the student body by laying out such demographics before and during the admission process. Would it help to actually appreciate diversity on college campuses by not publicizing the demographics of a college?


  1. This is a very interesting post, Manali. I liked hearing your perspective on this issue. This is, of course, a very controversial issue and it's hard to feel like one side is completely correct. Overall, I feel that affirmative action is positive, but only insofar as it is a temporary measure. Of course, I do not want one race or gender to be favored over any other in college admissions indefinitely, but I do support affirmative action as a tool to improve the lot of minority groups. Theoretically, if this is done enough these minority groups will be able to raise themselves out of the substandard socioeconomic conditions many of them live in without affirmative action.

    This is an extremely simplified analysis of the motivation behind affirmative action, but I think that its goal of eventually promoting more transparency on college campuses and other groups is an admirable one.

  2. When I was a first-year, the campus sent out one of their annual e-mails regarding the next year's class. The e-mail was celebratory in nature, claiming that the admissions department had, "filled their quota for minority students." This statement really got to me, which is why I remember it four years later. When we think of minority students in terms of "quotas" to be filled, it completely dehumanizes and demerits the individuals in question. That this type of language was being used in a favorable tone, sent from one of the school's highest officers, is despicable. I agree with you that Rhodes has an especially noticeable focus on the percentages of minority students on campus, and that that notion is actually racist in nature. Your suggestion that we don't use demographics during the admissions process (basing admittance on merit) has worth, and I think we should apply it to descriptions of our population as well.

  3. Colin, I'm glad you brought a different take to my blog by addressing your support for affirmative action atleast as a "temporary measure." Thanks for that insightful comment!

    Armanda, that is shocking that after granting admission there were emails sent out about the quota to be filled. I completely agree that the use of " quota" does " dehumanize and demerit the individual in question." Maybe the admissions process will get to a point when demographic are not mentioned - I hope so. Thanks so much for the comment.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.