Majority Of College Presidents Support Race-Based Admissions

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A majority of college presidents support race-based admissions as Harvard University enters the spotlight for allegedly discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

Inside Higher Ed’s 2019 Survey of College and University Presidents surveyed 784 college presidents and found 62 percent strongly agree or agree that race and ethnicity should be considered in admissions while 19 percent strongly disagree or disagree. Close to 80 percent of presidents also believed the general public did not understand the idea of holistic admissions, which considers criteria beyond test scores and GPAs.

The Harvard lawsuit was filed in 2014 by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group against affirmative action in higher education. The case went to trial in October 2018 and highlighted the issue of Asian-American applicants receiving lower “personality scores.”

“Presidents do not appear to be very confident that Harvard will prevail, as 37 percent strongly agree or agree they
are confident in Harvard’s defense of itself and the principles of affirmative action,” the survey said. “Twenty-seven percent strongly disagree or disagree.”

Forty-two percent of college presidents strongly agree or agree that they are concerned about possible discrimination against Asian-American applicants. More than 50 percent believed it was okay for private schools to consider legacy students in the admissions process, however.

The study, conducted by Gallup, was in its 9th year and looked into other perceptions regarding financial stability of colleges, race relations and sexual assault on campus.

Gallup invited 3,667 presidents over email with regular reminders sent between Jan. 3 and Jan. 30. The number of presidents representing public institutions was 436, 320 for private and 28 institutions representing the for-profit sector, according to the study.

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