Watch: Exploring Equity in Selective College Admissions
Recent event highlighted systemic inequities that impact higher education—from admissions and beyond
On October 3, BU Wheelock—along with Boston University’s Howard Thurman and Newbury Centers—hosted “Thumbs on the Scale: The Future of Race, Legacy, and Other Considerations in Selective College Admissions,” a panel discussion about equity in selective college admissions after the Supreme Court limited the use of racial preferences in college admissions.
Moderated by senior lecturer Raul Fernandez, the panel also included associate professor Anthony Abraham Jack; Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights; Maria Dykema Erb of Boston University’s Newbury Center; Massachusetts state senator Lydia Edwards; and Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Wesleyan University.
Drawing from their experiences as students, educational leaders, teachers, and community members, the panelists highlighted the systemic inequities that permeate higher education, including the continued existence of admissions preferences—for example, legacy admissions or athletic scholarships for tony sports like lacrosse, fencing, and polo—that favor affluent and white students. Panelists also suggested ways to approach affirmative action by focusing on the harm done to systemically marginalized student populations, rather than following the popular narrative of “special treatment.”
Highlights from the Event
The impact of privilege
It is is inconceivable for me to still live in a world where we provide privileges to these kids to have access to institutions to Harvard, where they are seven times more likely to be admitted, where these kids make up one-third of the class— and to live in a world where they continue to have access to these opportunities, but low-income kids and kids of color overwhelmingly do not. That is a matter of basic fairness.Iván Espinoza-Madrigal
Preferences in admissions
We actually know how much your scores on MCAS and other state exams go down based upon the neighborhood you live in. . . . If we only think about affirmative action from the moment a student is a senior applying to school, we will always have a conversation that is too truncated and too ignorant about preferences in admissions.Anthony Abraham Jack
The importance of retention
We can talk about who we’re going to admit or not all day long, but if we don’t create the space on our campuses to retain our students, then we haven’t done our jobs.Marie Dykema Erb