April 11, 2006

The Numbers Game

The U of C has generally not gone out of its way to look good on paper. Every year the dauntingly unique “Uncommon Application” discourages potential applicants who might otherwise raise the University’s “selectivity” ranking. But no student here honestly thinks that a marginal increase in the U.S. News and World Report College rankings is worth attracting the students who choose not to apply here because the “Uncommon” is “hard.”

This is why the University’s decision to woo 300 of the 500 minority students accepted to the U of C by flying them to campus—often independent of financial consideration—is disconcerting.

The idea that an individual statistic displays the ideal level of diversity is preposterous. Blatant University attempts to increase the percentage of black and Hispanic students should have a more robust definition of diversity in mind, not relying simply on dry racial statistics.

The University must remember that race is only one component of diversity. Socioeconomic background is a critical factor that is cast aside in the current diversity numbers game. Any university that assumes a white, black, Hispanic, or Asian student is the same across income brackets and places of residence does a disservice to itself. While the Maroon has nothing against wealthy students from the northeast, diversity is not achieved when a minority student from such origins is treated the same as one from the South Side of Chicago or rural Mississippi.

Reinforcing these statistics breeds a false feeling of diversity and an apathy that is contradictory to the aims of this University.