On February 2nd, 2012, The CMC Forum had this revealing paragraph in an article it wrote about President Gann's handling of the SAT fraud.
In 2002, the Board of Trustees adopted a general policy statement to guide the admissions office on shaping incoming classes. Some considerations include leadership, diversity, and support for co-curricular programs. According to Gann, one change in this policy since the beginning of her presidency was to increase the number of international students.
Was President Gann lying in her closed door meeting with The Claremont Port Side and The CMC Forum when she suggested that the only change that had occurred to admissions was the inclusion of international students in the statistics?
It appears so. In this article from the February/March 2003 issue of The Claremont Independent, Claremont McKenna's racial preferences regime is laid bare, adding another instance of Claremont's target of a more racially diverse campus as evidence of what I detailed in a Big Government piece. We still don't know definitively if Claremont McKenna was excluding racial minorities from its SAT scores, as other schools have done in the past, but it is seeming more and more likely.
CMC Admissions Office Uses Affirmative Action
Program Will Increase Under Irvine Foundation Grant
By Jason Lippenberger
Publisher, CMC ‘04
C. Apollo Morgan
Editor-in-Chief, CMC ‘04, and
Contributing Editor, CMC ‘03
The CMC Admissions Office currently considers race as “one of many factors” in admitting students. The Administration vigorously denies that the College uses quotas, which could be illegal. But an investigation of admissions statistics from recent years reveals that black and Latino applicants are admitted at significantly higher rates than white and Asian candidates.
The Admissions Office is due to expand its affirmative action policies under the terms of a new “Campus Diversity Initiative” grant, which calls for a 2% increase in non-white enrollment per year during the next three years. CMC has also declared its intention to attain a student body that is 37% non-white.
These changes are part of a larger campus diversity effort that is funded in part by the James Irvine foundation. The new initiative includes a plan to pay the travel costs of some non-white applicants who visit the CMC campus. The College is also considering creating a new admissions brochure for prospective non-white students, although Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Richard Vos now suggests those plans may be discarded.
A review of Admissions Office statistics shows that CMC admits applicants of different races at widely varying levels. Between 1997 and 2001, 42% of Hispanic applicants and 36% of black applicants were accepted. During the same period, 29% of white applicants and 23% of Asian applicants were granted admission.
The consistency of the numbers from year to year is striking. The admission rate for Hispanic applicants has by far the lowest standard deviation of .009. White students followed with a standard deviation of .023, Asian Students with .025 and black students with .04.
Standard deviation measures the differences of the numbers from year to year. A low standard deviation means that the numbers for each year are closer together.
Administrators deny that the disparities are the result of a quotas or manipulation.
“I can assure you that there is no quota system,” declared President Pamela Gann.
Vos explained that race is “a factor, as is geography and testing and transcripts and essays and fit and leadership and athletic activity.” He added, “it’s not the most important factor, but it’s one of 15-20 factors that we look at.”
Gann asserts that CMC “follows the concept of the Bakke case,” referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision that has governed the use of affirmative action for the past 25 years. She describes the plan to increase minority enrollment by 6% over three years as “a motivator target.”
According to Jerome Garris, an Assistant Vice President who handles foundation grants for the College and co-authored the Irvine proposal, “There isn’t any effort to arrive at some specific number. For Irvine, we felt we had to put some numbers in here because they, frankly, asked us to do that.”
He added, “it is not a quota, it’s not something that we are inexorably committed to.”
Asked why Asians have such a low admittance rate, Vos commented, “A lot of things explain [the numbers]. Fit is a big thing—a very big thing for us especially because of CMC’s market niche. And again, this is a very, very, very dangerous generalization, but I would suggest it just might be true that Asian and Asian-American students are sometimes more involved in solitary activities than Latino students or white students.”
Based on the thousands of applications he has reviewed, Vos says “it’s more likely that an African-American student did not play the violin but maybe got involved in an athletic team, got involved in debate, got involved in student government, did things that we, in our value system at CMC, perceive to be a more CMCish fit. Leadership, group-oriented extracurricular activities that we feel are perhaps more in-line with our mission.”
Administration officials defend CMC’s affirmative action practices as educational and beneficial.
Dean of Faculty William Ascher told an interviewer, “you have been shortchanged by CMC not being able to have access to diverse perspectives that are rooted in different ethnicities and different experiences in people by virtue of their race.”
According to President Gann, the Administration believes “that the best educational experience for every student that comes here is to have a racially diverse student body from the standpoint of residential life and the educational outcomes of our students.”
During the Irvine grant application process, CMC prepared a “Narrative” that summarized CMC’s racial diversity, “barriers” to increasing racial diversity, and actions necessary to racially diversify the campus.
The “Narrative” noted that while non-white enrollment has decreased in past years, the Admissions Office “increased [its] efforts during 2001-2002 with some success.” During that year, the percentage of admitted black applicants increased by exactly 10 percentage points to equal the admittance rate for Hispanic students. Dean Vos said that the jump was not produced intentionally.
“Compared to previous years, in 2001-02 we targeted the stronger, more academically-qualified minority students, especially in the African-American category,” he said. “As we expected, the applicant pool decreased in size but increased in quality. Yes, it was intentional to admit the best-qualified candidates. No, it was not intentional to increase the percentage admitted by exactly ten points—it simply turned out that way.” In fact, the number of black applicants shrank to 89, the lowest number in the past 6 years.
According to the “Narrative,” there many barriers to non-white student recruitment. Besides the idea that a lack of non-white role-models in the faculty is a barrier [see cover story], the “Narrative” also cites CMC’s “suburban location, liberal arts mission, and small size,” the small number of black students (meaning that “a critical mass number is rarely achieved”), CMC’s “intentional political balance,” and the fact that CMC is increasingly recruiting from outside California.
The Irvine grant was intended to fund the creation of a “minority student recruitment and admissions brochure.” But when asked about these brochures, Vos said that he has reservations about producing them.
“I admit to being conflicted myself on the very subject of a minority-specific brochure,” he said. “We’ve never had one. And I have talked with [Garris] since this grant was given to us and we’re not sure if we’re going to have one. We might end up instead deciding to use that money to hire a photographer to take more good pictures of our student body.”
This “better photography” would consist of racially-diverse groups of students, but Vos emphasized that the pictures would not misrepresent the composition of the student body.
When asked about what is included in a brochure aimed at non-white students, Vos said that there were no specific plans but he did offer an example from another college.
“A school like Carlton, for example, that has a minority-specific brochure, will talk about its academic support services for minority students. And in the very fact that you talk about that in the minority brochure but you don’t talk about that in . . . the main recruiting brochure that is sent to everybody, you’re implying that minority students are more likely to need this academic support than anybody else, and that’s a form of racism. That sends a signal to minority students that they’re not as strong academically in that ‘We know you’ll need this help, but we’re telling you that we have it, so come over here to our college.’ I think that’s a huge mistake.”
Another Irvine-funded initiative to racially diversify the student body is a “minority fly-in program.” The plan will continue and expand a program CMC started in the fall of 2002, which pays the expenses of some non-white applicants who fly to southern California to see the College. (CMC pays only driving expenses for prospective students who live in the region.)
When asked why the College would fly in non-white students but not white students, Vos replied, “Because we want more minorities. Because we’re living in a very diverse culture. We don’t have very many minorities here and we think it would be beneficial for all of our students to learn from being around all different types of people.”
The “Narrative” points out that according to U.S. News and World Report, CMC is the eighth most “diverse” liberal arts college in the nation. On the west coast, only Whittier and Occidental are more “diverse,” according to the magazine.
Aside from the low number of non-white role models and non-white students, the only other changeable “barrier” to increasing non-white enrollment is the College’s “intentional political diversity.” No one, though, seemed willing to change that.
“Generally—not always true—but generally, African Americans—more so than Latinos—tend to come from a more liberal perspective, and so they are sometimes worried that this place is only a place where conservative students are happy,” Vos said.
“I don’t want to change [the political balance],” he continued. “I think it makes us a better college that we have a very, very even balance of political points of view.” Vos added, “I also think it helps us differentiate ourselves from most other national liberal arts colleges.”
Assistant Vice President Garris also commented on the idea of political balance as a “barrier” to diversity. “I guess the reason is they tend to see us as conservative, which, relatively speaking with other institutions, we are,” he said. “And I think what [the Admissions Office is] hearing from a lot of minority applicants is that that isn’t always their political orientation, let’s say.”
“I would argue that you’ve got to confront that head on,” he continued.
“What you ought to do with that is say ‘Look, here is why that is a positive point. If you go to an institution where everybody has the same opinion, and it’s the same as yours, what kind of . . . value is going to be added to your educational experience’?”