Ever since affirmative action entered the national scene in 1961, the subject of diversity at the nation’s colleges and universities has morphed and shifted, especially as the percentage of underrepresented minorities at colleges has risen. Now a new study regarding the admission of minorities at the University of Oklahoma, released just a few days ago, is putting the subject in the limelight once more:

“The analysis sought to determine if race and ethnicity are weighed in law school, undergraduate, and medical school admissions. The study concludes that race and ethnicity are weighed in admissions to all three institutions.”

But this study does seem to have its holes. While some evidence suggests that African-American and Native American students may have had other factors in their admission other than GPA and LSAT score, other minorities don’t appear to have received any such special treatment, as seen in this quote:

“White admittees had the highest median LSAT scores (159). African American admittee scores
were 6 points lower; Hispanic admittee scores were lower by 5. The American Indian and Asian American scores were 3 and 2 points lower, respectively.

Hispanic and Asian American admittees had the highest median college GPAs (3.63 and 3.62,
respectively), while median college GPAs for whites were slightly lower (3.60), followed by the
median GPA for American Indians (3.54). African American admittees had the lowest college
GPAs (3.34) of the five groups.”

So this study sounds like a witch hunt that doesn’t really go anywhere. As a person of color myself, however, what bothers me most about this study is its ignorance of the true intent behind diversity initiatives. These initiatives weren’t created to get students with the absolute best GPAs and test scores. They were created to give underrepresented groups the chance to be better represented in the educated class and to enrich the learning experience of the whole student body.

Put in simple terms: the value that a black, Latino, Native American, Asian-American, or Martian student can bring to program can’t be summed up in a GPA or test score. And the learning that they and their fellow white students need goes far beyond lecture. Colleges and universities need to better define and publicize these benefits if people are ever going to value diversity.

What is your opinion on this study? How have diversity initiatives affected your education? How can colleges and universities do a better job of increasing understanding about the benefits of diversity? Tell us in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *