college admissions

If you want to peruse any records associated with your admission to Columbia University, you’ll be quite limited in what you receive.

What Columbia junior Frederic Enea got back when he made a request to do just that included his original college application and an email sent to the school by his high school guidance counselor, but “any documents created or comments made by Columbia admissions officers were missing from his file.”

This is policy, it seems.

The Columbia Daily Spectator reports:

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jessica Marinaccio said that in the admissions process, admissions officers create a written assessment of the student’s application called a “reader rating sheet.” That document is shared with the admissions committee, which may add comments.

“We have a document retention policy here at Columbia that has been in place for a little while,” Marinaccio said. “And part of that document retention policy is that we do delete, we remove those reader rating sheets before a student matriculates.”

According to Marinaccio, those records are destroyed to provide students with a clean slate when they begin college.

“If we feel they’re going to be good fits here and they’re admissible and they make the choice to come, [their reader rating sheets] shouldn’t necessarily follow them throughout their entire career here,” Marinaccio said.

Columbia is the latest institution known to liquidate such documents.

Stanford began doing so shortly after the anonymous group Fountain Hopper “sent emails to its subscribers encouraging them to request access to their admissions records.”

Yale has eliminated such records, too.

The group Students for Fair Admissions has sent letters to all Ivy League schools but Harvard (with whom it’s currently involved in litigation) requesting they retain their admissions archives. SFA says “schools should not be able to ‘destroy evidence essential to judicial review of its admissions policies,’ especially if such policies were racially discriminatory.”

Unfortunately, currently there is nothing in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that prevents universities from extinguishing student admissions forms.

NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the year of student Frederic Enea, and to note that his college application and counselor email were not the exclusive contents of what he received from Admissions.

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Goucher, the small institution located near Baltimore, Maryland has implemented a new policy whereby prospective students can send in a two-minute video of themselves in place of … high school transcripts.

The New York Times reports:

Under the policy announced this month by Goucher, a 1,400-student liberal arts college near Baltimore, a prospective student may apply by submitting two pieces of work (at least one of them a graded high school writing assignment) and a two-minute video, rather than a high school transcript. José A. Bowen, Goucher’s new president, readily admits that he has no idea how many applicants will go that route, how many will be accepted or whether they will work out.

“This is an experiment, and there are plenty of reasonable objections,” he said. “We’re going to track these students, and we’ll really know in a year. If the kids who did video apps do worse than others, we’ll stop. If they do just as well or better, colleges around the country will be doing it.”

President Bowen is known for such radical ideas. He has pondered, among other things, “doing away with grades,” and “having students declare a mission rather than a major.”

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IMAGE: Jeff Carter/Flickr

Students at the University of Michigan ignited a discussion of race at the University of Michigan last week, with a bit of help from social media.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The University of Michigan tweeted thanks to the contributors for engaging in the conversation and promised their voices would be heard.

A sample of student tweets includes the following:

@paperframes:#BBUM is the constant assumption that you only got in because of affirmative action.”

@LehmanRobinson: “Personally, I’ve enjoyed my experiences , they’ve helped shape me into the diverse individual that I am today and I am proud of it.”

@HeyyyDramaQueen: “we’re only looked at as tokens…token black students who.they can say …yeah we graduated some black smart people just for display

@iDion__: “Only black person in my class

The University of Michigan has been ground zero for the battle over racial preferences in college admissions, with the two most famous Supreme Court cases concerning the issue, Grutter v. Bolliger and Gratz v. Bollinger, originating at the university.

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Jennifer Gratz, a civil rights activist and prominent critic of racial preferences in college admissions, writes about a crucial upcoming Supreme Court decision:

In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative… Even though the MCRI passed with a margin of 58 to 42, the radical group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) immediately filed to have it overturned in court…

BAMN insists that the amendment is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because the legal impact of banning race preferences falls wholly upon, and thus targets, certain powerless minorities. Here, the foundation of their argument is that preferences are in fact maintained not for society as a whole but for the benefit of specific minorities.

Supporters of race preferences now have conflicting arguments. They’ve argued before the Supreme Court that race preferences are primarily for the benefit of everyone. But in the fall they will argue in front of the same court that race preferences are primarily for the benefit of minorities. It would be impossible for the Court to accept that logic without undermining the legal basis for affirmative action.

The tide of public opinion has turned against racial preferences in college admissions.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll out today, 76% of Americans oppose allowing universities to consider race as a factor in college admissions.

That’s good news, and shows that most Americans understand that reverse discrimination is not the path to greater racial equality.

Why is it then that so many universities continue to factor in race in their admissions decisions? Why is it that elite college administrators seem to be so out of step with the views of most Americans?

Martin Luther King famously longed for the day when men would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It’s a shame so many in the left-wing academic establishment remain committed to racial preferences.

Although members of some ethnic minority groups do, on average, face various economic and cultural obstacles, it will only be after we embrace truly color-blind policies in college admissions that we can begin to acknowledge the real cause of minority educational under achievement, which is the catastrophic breakdown of the traditional two-parent family. This is a problem that is, increasingly, affecting all racial and ethnic groups, not just minorities.

The evolving views of the American public on the issue of racial preferences gives us reason to hope that the academic establishment cannot long continue their policies of reverse racial discrimination.

Justice requires equal treatment, regardless of race. That’s something a majority of Americans, in their hearts, understand.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

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Fix contributor Elaina Plott reports for the NY Observer on a big fat case of–I can’t believe he said that, Twitter edition:

It seems that for NYU’s PhD programs, fat people need not apply.

Geoffrey Miller, a visiting evolutionary psychology professor at NYU, is under fire for divulging his distasteful feelings yesterday on the PhD application process.

The since-deleted tweet read: “Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”

Miller’s tweet sparked instant outrage across internet news blogs and opinion sites, and among his colleagues at NYU.

…Dr. Miller quickly backtracked, subsequently tweeting that “Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria…sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet.”

Not everyone has been quick to accept Miller’s apology. As Elizabeth Brown of wrote, “I love when people publicly say something stupid and then insist that it doesn’t reflect their true “views, values or standards.” So you’re a dolt and a hypocrite, then? Cool; glad we got that covered!

Our prediction? Fat-bashing was probably not a very good career move for “visiting professor” Miller–especially in an age when words live forever online, following you from one academic job interview to another for the rest of your life.

As The Daily Caller recently reported, 1 in 10 young people are denied jobs because employers look at social media accounts (like Twitter) and don’t like what they see.

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