Monday, October 23, 2006

Affirmative action for gays

Liza informs me that colleges are starting to adopt affirmative action policies for admitting homosexual students. The Princeton paper reports:
Since the institution of affirmative action more than 40 years ago, American colleges have been working to diversify their campuses, increasing the likelihood of enrollment for students who have suffered discrimination or economic hardship.

Two weeks ago, Middlebury College took this process one step further, implementing a policy through which students who identify themselves as gay will receive the same benefits in the admissions process as ethnic minorities, athletes and legacies.

While no college has yet matched Middlebury's policy, several, such as Claremont McKenna and Loyola University in New Orleans, are seriously considering it.

Princeton's Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye declined to comment on whether the University will make this move but emphasized the University's commitment to diversity in all its forms.

"We value students from all backgrounds, and diversity has a broad definition for our work," she said in an email.

"In terms of the admissions process, we give students every consideration if they have a diverse background including students who are gay, or who may be involved in LGBT groups in their high schools, communities or national organizations."

Princeton was recently named one of the top 20 campuses for LGBT students in The Advocate magazine's "College Guide for LGBT Students." It is also one of only 100 schools in the country with full-time professional LGBT coordinators or directors.
I wonder what those colleges would do with an applicant who was involved in a contrary group -- that is, a group whose goals might be contrary to the goals of the typical LGBT group.

Middlebury has now issued this denial:
I want to clarify Middlebury College's admissions policy as described in your article. While Middlebury welcomes students from diverse backgrounds, it has no admissions policy related to sexual orientation. Middlebury accepts only those applicants who have demonstrated evidence that they will succeed at the college academically and who will make positive contributions to its undergraduate community.
This denial is a little fishy. If a Middlebury applicant says that he belongs to a GLBT group, what does the admissions office do with that info? Whether it ignores it, or rates it as a positive or a negative, it must have some policy. For Middlebury to say that it has no policy is just another way of saying that it does not wish to publicly state its policy.

Here is another source:
Middlebury College is this year for the first time giving students who identify themselves as gay in the admissions process an "attribute" -- the same flagging of an application that members of ethnic minority groups, athletes, alumni children and others receive, according to Shawn Rae Passalacqua, assistant director of admissions at Middlebury. ...

Passalacqua said that gay students bring "a unique quality" to the college, which he said tries hard not "to be too homogeneous." Of 6,200 applications last year, 5 students noted their gay identities in their application essays and another 50-plus applicants cited their membership in gay-straight alliances. Passalacaqua said that Middlebury admissions officers were also likely to look favorably and give an admissions tip to "straight allies" of gay students -- not just out of support for that view, but because a college benefits from having people who are "bridge builders."
It sounds to me that Middlebury has an affirmative action policy for gay students.

Here is another Middlebury denial.

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