Hoxby says some college administers had confided to her that they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the pool of low-income students with top academic credentials was just limited, and there wasn’t much they could do to change that.
But in an analysis published with Christopher Avery in December, Hoxby has shown that this conclusion isn’t true. There is in fact a vast pool of highly talented, low-income students; they just aren’t ending up in top schools.
"The students whom they see are the students who apply," she says, of admissions officers. "And if a student doesn’t apply to any selective college or university, it’s impossible for admissions staff to see that they are out there."
Hoxby found that the majority of academically gifted low-income students come from a handful of places in the country: About 70 percent of them come from 15 large metropolitan areas. These areas often have highly regarded public high schools, such as Stuyvesant in New York City or Thomas Jefferson in the Washington, D.C., area.
Low-income high-achieving students at these schools have close to 100 percent odds of attending an Ivy League school or other highly selective college, Hoxby says.
The reasons are straightforward: These schools boast top teachers and immense resources. They have terrific guidance counselors. Highly selective colleges send scouts to these schools to recruit top talent. And perhaps most important, students in these schools are part of a peer group where many others are also headed to highly selective colleges.
Hoxby and Avery found that top students who do not live in these major metropolitan areas were significantly less likely to end up at a highly selective school. These students were far less likely to find themselves in a pipeline that ended at an Ivy League school.
The image above was taken from an article published over the weekend in Very Noice, the online component of The Harvard Voice, a “student life” magazine dealing with “5 People” one encounters at job recruitment events. If you look at the piece now, however, you won’t see “The Asian,” described thusly:
"You can always spot the Asian contingent at every pre-interview reception. They dress in the same way (satin blouse with high waisted pencil skirt for girls, suits with skinny ties for boys), talk in the same sort-of gushy, sort-of whiny manner, and have the same concentrations and sky-high GPAs. They’re practically indistinguishable from one another, but it’s okay. Soon, they will be looking at the same Excel spreadsheets and spend their lunch talking about their meaningful morning conversations with the helpdesk of Bloomberg. Uniqueness is overrated when you make six-figure salaries."
A Racialicious reader who attends the school sent us the screencap above from the original version of the piece Saturday evening. However, the reader emailed us later that evening saying the Voice’s editor, identified on the site as April Sperry, contacted readers saying “this piece was uploaded by an anonymous contributor without anyone else’s knowledge.” As our reader noted, this seems “bizarre,” considering the piece wasn’t taken down at that point.
Sperry addressed the incident in a column published late Monday night, with an opening line that is by now standard to this kind of incident:
"First and foremost, an apology is in order. To anyone who was offended or in any manner hurt by the comments about Asian students in the recruiting process, The Voice is deeply sorry. No readers should feel attacked or singled out in a negative manner by our content."
Sperry also said the staff “did not collaborate to conceptualize or write this article.” Yet it was an unidentified staff member who accepted the piece, published it, and “mistakenly attributed it to the staff as a whole,” even while the staff doesn’t agree with the opinions presented.
As of Monday night, Sperry said, she did not know who wrote the piece, or why comments on it were temporarily disabled.
The media focus on student debt, on congressional battles over student loans, and the scarcity of jobs for college graduates obscures the racial and class dynamics that define America’s colleges and universities. With the public discourse surrounding the unfairness of affirmative action for Whites, the threat that Ethnic Studies represents to (White) America, and the absence of “White student unions” in college campuses, public discussions re-imagine Whiteness as precarious, and Whites as victim and at the frontlines of a changing educational landscape. Despite the daily lamenting of the state and future of America’s White students, particularly those with middle and upper-middle incomes, college campuses are still White. In fact, Whites, particularly those whose parents are part of the top 5% of the income distribution, continue to reap the benefits of privilege in (1) admittance, (2) scholarship, and (3) treatment. Let’s not get things twisted here; these colleges and universities are in America, so yes the rules of the game (racism, sexism, classism) do apply.
In 2005, less than one in eight youth from the poorest 25% of society would enroll at a 4-year college university within 2 years of high school graduation. According to Peter Schmidt, author of The Color of Money, “a rich child has about 25 times as much a chance as a poor one of someday enrolling in a college rated as highly selective or better.” Colleges’ overreliance on SAT scores, heightens cultural bias, and the unequal advantages resulting from SAT prep classes, which have proven to benefit Whites and the middle-class. In addition, because admissions give credence to a school’s reputation (which cannot be seen apart from segregation, and racial and class inequality), the rules and the game of college are set up to advantage Mitt Romney’s America: the already privileged. Worse yet, the hegemony of the narratives of meritocracy and the illusion of diversity—which Lani Guiner describes as “a leaf to camouflage privilege”—obscure the endless privileges afforded to the members of middle and upper middle class White America, before they ever step foot on a college campus.
The money is there for White students, particularly those who already have class advantages. From access to prep classes to performative enhancing drugs, from legacies to the “donation path,” America’s colleges and universities are overpopulated by Whites, by the sons and daughter’s of the elite, not because of some level of intelligence, the requisite values, or some all-powerful work ethic, but because of the power of privilege and money.
This points to a clear conclusion: because of access to money, prep classes, or mere connections, that is, because of privilege, America’s colleges and universities, particularly the elite schools, are overpopulated with White students lacking the requisite skills to succeed within these spaces. It is no wonder that America’s colleges and universities are increasingly the educational weight stations for the ill prepared and ill qualified.
While the national press and politicians lament the status and predicament facing (White) college graduates, let us not forget the broader issues at work here. It is revealing that while the face of the aggrieved student is often White, and while the narrative of the student left behind is White, they are not the faces of those students who are getting admitted to universities without “deserving” to be there. Whites are not the face of having easy access to financial aid; they are not the face of those who can afford to and are using drugs without being busted; they are not the face who pop performance enhancing pills; they are not the face of cheating scandals. Yet, instead Whiteness remains the face of victimized student who deserves to be in college, who deserves to secure the American Dream. If that is the case, I think we need to return to a basic lesson: a more accurate definition of “deserve.”
Give the person or people behind the OSU Haters Tumblr some credit: the campaign has actually spurred their school, Ohio State, to confront the racist attitudes of some of its students. Tonight, members of various student groups will hold a special town hall meeting to discuss the ugliness the page uncovered.
The page was founded months ago, but has gained more attention online over the past week or so, including the curious gaze of local media in Columbus, OH.
“The motivation to create these accounts came from the multiple sightings of hate speech online,” OSU Haters told The Columbus Dispatch via email. “Particularly the fact that these posts continued not only without consequence, but were sometimes promoted and shared by their peers.”
It’s a testament to what social media can do to force attention to an issue that the school’s president, E. Gordon Gee, has weighed in—and thankfully, not to pooh-pooh OSUHater’s cause.
“It’s just clearly unacceptable behavior,” he said to the Dispatch regarding the racism. “We have a very clear policy, and I have very strong personal feelings about how wrong it is.”
What is happening at UCLA should give us pause, allowing us to think about potential connections here and the ways in which implicit bias and assumptions play out in both the media narrative and the disciplinary process. One has to wonder: do readers consider the larger context of race? Do people think basketball and immediately assume black players given societal representations? Given the celebration of programs like Duke and Gonzaga, private institutions whose best players, historically, have often been white, it is clear that blackness embodies the normative, the point of reference within the context of the NCAA’s basketball culture.
If the story is read through that lens, does the media focus in the form of headlines reinforce stereotypes about misbehaving black athletes? One has to wonder if readers think about Reeves’ whiteness and the blackness of other players, and how their differential treatment offers a window into broader issues.
While I have no knowledge about how race may have impacted this process (and it is impossible to know given the powerful and implicit ways that race operates within our society), where one black player eventually left the team (even if a mutual decision) while Nelson was given many chances before finally being kicked off the team, the experiences at UCLA point to larger issues in terms of race and discipline, and who is seen as redeemable and who is seen as a lost cause.
A UCLA Latino student’s apartment door was tagged up with racist comments. This event should definitely get media coverage. There’s a hidden racism on campus and I’m sure it happens on other campuses too. Schools never want to look bad, but its not about that. Its about gaining visibility for the prejudice that affects its students.