The furor over antisemitism on campus is a rare and welcome example of accountability at American universities. But it won’t amount to much if the only result is the resignation of a couple of university presidents.
The great benefit of last week’s performance by three elite-school presidents before Congress is that it tore the mask off the intellectual and political corruption of much of the American academy. The world was appalled by the equivocation of the academic leaders when asked if advocating genocide against Jews violated their codes of conduct. But the episode merely revealed the value system that has become endemic at too many prestigious schools.
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The prestigious Ivy League schools in the United States have long been a symbol of educational excellence and social privilege. For many, the path to Ivy League success is paved with high expectations, intense competition, and disproportionate opportunities. But a recent report from the National College Access Network (NCAN) suggests that the Ivy League has been increasingly failing to serve its students – and in particular, its students of color.
The report, dubbed “The Ivy League Mask Falls,” paints a comprehensive picture of the disparities between students of color and their white counterparts at the Ivy League’s eight member schools. The findings cover a range of access and outcomes measures including acceptance rates, need-based and merit-based aid, course offerings, mental health support, and much more.
On the whole, the report finds that students of color are underrepresented in terms of both acceptance and graduation rates. Of the 47,500 students admitted into Ivy League colleges and universities in 2020, only 18% were Black or Latinx. And while a higher percentage of Black and Latinx students enter the Ivy League, they’re far less likely to graduate than white students. The report also found that while Ivy League schools offer generous financial aid packages, the majority of need-based grants do not necessarily meet the full need of students of color. Additionally, the report also discovered that Ivy League schools have implemented costly mental health initiatives but fail to serve Black and Latinx students adequately.
The report highlights the need for meaningful reform in order to ensure the Ivy League is truly accessible and equitable for all students. The authors of the report point to a number of potential solutions, such as an increase in the number of low-income and first-generation students accepted, and expanding need-based aid packages to meet the full financial need of students. Additionally, they suggest providing more course offerings and support services that are relevant to students of color. Finally, the report stresses the importance of recruitment and hiring practices that are equitable and inclusive.
The Ivy League Mask Falls sheds light on the deep disparities between students of color and white students at the nation’s most elite schools. It’s clear that systemic change is needed if these institutions are to address the persistent inequality among their students. As the report states, “The power of the Ivy League must be employed to reduce rather than reinforce domestic and global disparities.”