The National Review faults my new report on minority college graduation rates because “the words “affirmative” and “preference” appear nowhere in the document.” Well, yes, that’s true. And I have to admit, in the course of my analysis, I observed one group of students that consistently struggles in graduating compared to their peers. At college after college, this faction is apparently enjoying the benefit of identity-based admissions preferences and dragging down all the rest.
I refer, of course, to white men.
There are over 550 colleges and universities in America that reported higher graduation rates for black women in 2006 than for white men. They include Princeton, Yale, Georgetown, Pomona, Rice, Northwestern, Cornell, Davidson, Vanderbilt, Cal Tech, Wake Forest, Villanova, RPI, West Point, Virginia Tech, George Washington, BYU, Air Force, The University of Texas-Austin, Georgia Tech, SMU, Baylor, Miami, Rutgers, Julliard, Tulane, American, Purdue, Coast Guard, Florida State, UMASS, SUNY-Albany, South Carolina, Bowling Green, Oklahoma, George Mason, West Virginia, and many more.
There are a number of private colleges in the report that have very selective admissions, take race into account when considering applicants, and have no graduation rate gap. There are also lots of public institutions in the report that admit most students who apply regardless of race or anything else–some located in states that have outlawed affirmative action–yet still have very large graduation rate gaps.
So, no, I don’t think the report offers damning evidence against affirmative action that we somehow failed to come clean about.
Colleges admit lots of different kinds of students. Some have more barriers to graduation than others. Statistically speaking, students are less likely to graduate if they work full-time, have children, come from low-income households, enroll part-time, don’t enroll immediately after high school, struggle with reading and math, have parents who didn’t graduate from college, or have a Y chromosome. Responsible institutions understand this, and support individual students depending on their invidual needs, whatever they might be. That’s not a practice specfic to race or anything else, it’s about devoting resources and attention to students who need them most.