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Massive DEI efforts have not increased grad rates for students of color: study

Colleges also fail to represent ethnic populations that mirror general population, analysis found

Despite major diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at colleges and universities across the nation, students of color continue to lag behind the national average when it comes to graduation rates.

Black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander students today “have worse academic outcomes as measured by graduation rates,” according to a new analysis by McKinsey & Company.

The analysis also found that, despite Herculean efforts to diversify campuses, 92 percent of colleges fail to represent racial populations among students and faculty that mirror the general population.

“For Black and Native American students and for faculty from all underrepresented populations, there was effectively no progress from 2013 to 2020,” the analysis found.

At the current rate, the report added, it would take colleges another 70 years to recruit enough students of color for their enrollment to somewhat mirror America’s demographics.

What’s more, after factoring out Latino students, for Native American and black students it would take more than “300 years to form a representative student body.”

Since 2010, the white population has decreased by 8.6 percent, but the multiracial population has seen a 276 percent increase, U.S. census data show.

Similar to the McKinsey findings, according to a report from the Center on Education Data and Policy, from 2003 to 2017 black enrollment at public colleges only increased by 12 percent and Latino enrollment simply doubled. At the same time, white enrollment at American universities still increased as their total population decreased in the country.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the McKinsey analysis blamed the achievement gap on “[p]oor-quality K-12 education, selective admissions practices, and a lack of faculty diversity.”

Despite the ineffectiveness of DEI initiatives over the past decades, the analysis advised colleges to “reflect on their own racist history and their campus culture, evaluate their student-recruitment strategies, and invest more in diversity efforts, such as expanding dual-enrollment programs, forgiving student debts, and partnering with minority-serving institutions,” the Chronicle reported.

How much more money needs to be spent on diversity remains to be seen, but the costs are already quite high, according to Mark Perry, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and professor emeritus of economics and finance at the University of Michigan Flint.

For example, the 93 employees with the University of Michigan’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion receive a combined $10.6 million in annual salaries, according to Perry’s calculations.

Such spending patterns by universities on DEI efforts can be seen nationwide. Take Columbia University, which dedicated $185 million to support DEI from 2005 to 2019. American University spent $61 million on diversity in 2019 alone.

The College Fix sought comment from some campus diversity offices and sociologists on the findings but did not receive a response.

MORE: Higher education DEI takeover will not end until this one major problem is fixed

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About the Author
Blake Mauro -- Clemson University