Can We Get A Slow Clap? Harvard Is Getting A Little Less Whitewashed

Harvard’s incoming freshman class is majority non-white, which means big things for diversity on campus.

Oct 17, 2017

Harvard Business school building in Cambridge Massachusetts USA

Harvard University has been in the news a lot recently after rescinding a fellowship offered to Chelsea Manning and then hiring Trump’s ex-Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

In a separate incident, two male Harvard history professors complained to the administration when a qualified Black female doctoral applicant who had served a prison sentence applied to the doctoral program. They argued that “Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer.” The applicant was swiftly rejected.

While Harvard has done its fair share of capitulation to the cis, white patriarchy, it is notable that the university’s incoming freshman class is majority non-white.


While the BBC claims that this is the first time in 381 years that this has been the case, the LA Times picked up on official numbers from the Harvard Gazette that show that not only is this not the first year that minorities are the majority, the numbers are actually down from last year. This year’s minority admissions are at 50.8%, whereas last year’s were 51.4%.

Harvard spokeswoman Rachel Dane said the numbers in the Gazette were accurate. –Ann M. Simmons and Melissa Etehad

2017’s breakdown is still notable, at 22.2% Asian American, 14.6% African American, 11.6% Hispanic and Latino, and 2.5% Native American and Pacific Islander. 15.1% are first-generation students. Harvard is also one of the schools where men and women are generally admitted at equal rates.

The legal battle over diversity

Despite seemingly dropping minority admission numbers, Harvard has still come under fire for its acceptance policies. CNN reports that the Department of Justice is exploring a complaint

Filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 [which] “alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in [Harvard’s] admissions policy and practices.” say Nancy Coleman and Sarah Isgur Flores.

The complaint may seem strange considering that Asian Americans dominate the spread of minority admissions. It challenges the basic structure of Affirmative Action, arguing that “the Supreme Court was misled” and that there was

An elaborate mechanism [in place to hide] Harvard’s systematic campaign of racial and ethnic discrimination against certain disfavored classes of applicants […] created for the specific purpose of discriminating against Jewish applicants [and used] today […] to hide intentional discrimination against Asian Americans- Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

It’s a hefty claim and Harvard, for its part, has denied all allegations, which are also alleged to include “admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants”:

Harvard spokeswoman Melodie Jackson said in a statement that the college’s admissions process “considers each applicant as a whole person” and is “consistent with the legal standards established by the US Supreme Court.” writes Nancy Coleman

And though the minority admissions numbers haven’t set a record overall this year, there are some communities who have had higher acceptance rates: Latino and Hispanic applicants, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders and, interestingly enough considering the lawsuit, Asian Americans.

Oct 17, 2017