For the first time in 380 years, the majority of students accepted at Harvard University are not white.
Of the freshman accepted into Harvard this year, 50.8 percent are from minority groups — including Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Hawaiians. According to the institute, that’s up from 47.3 percent last year, because of the efforts of its recruiters who visited 150 communities in the United States and met with students, parents and high school counselors to improve diversity numbers.
Although Harvard accepted more than half non-white students to its class of 2021, not all students accepted their admissions and hence the percentage of minority students has fallen. Nevertheless, a record high 84 percent of those accepted will attend in fall.
In total, 2,056 non-whites from 39,506 applicants will attend Harvard this fall. Of those admitted, women make up 49.2 percent, Asian-American students make up 22.2 percent, African-Americans 14.6 percent, Latinos 11.6 percent, Native Americans 1.9 percent and Native Hawaiians 0.5 percent.
The numbers aren’t that big a surprise from the university, which set the bar for affirmative action with the “Harvard Plan.”
The policy implemented in the 1970s to fight the school’s non-existent minority students record is frequently cited in affirmative action cases, according to The Washington Post. Furthermore, the diversity program is not just about race but also includes social class, geography and other personal attributes.
Harvard’s efforts to maintain diversity comes at a time when the Department of Justice announced it will sue campuses with affirmative action admission policies because they are supposedly discriminatory against white people.
However, the Trump administration recently said it had no broad plans to investigate college and university admission programs, but was only looking into a single complaint from a coalition of 64 Asian-American groups filed in 2015. The lawsuit alleges the school and other Ivy League institutes were using racial quotas that rejected high-scoring Asian Americans while it admitted lower-scoring white people.
Still, the sudden scrutiny by the Trump administration in affirmative action policies has a number of colleges and civil rights group worried.
On Wednesday, many universities in Massachusetts defended their diversity practices and said building a campus for different races, cultures and experiences were crucial to their mission.
Harvard has also released a statement about its admission process.
“To become leaders in our diverse society, students must have the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. Harvard remains committed to enrolling diverse classes of students,” said Rachael Dane, a spokeswoman for the university. “Harvard’s admissions process considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors, consistent with the legal standards established by the US Supreme Court.”
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Brian Snyder