Race in College Admissions, Is It Really What It Seems?

On Tuesday, the Daily Tarheel featured an article titled, “The minority report of UNC.”  The article was written by Trey Mangum, an African-American student, who argued that the number of minorities, specifically African-American males, enrolled and graduating on time at UNC is unacceptable.  According to Mangum, only 98 African-American males are in the UNC class of 2017, which is lacking compared to the 1, 054 white males. 

Although I agree with Mangum that the number of African-American males enrolled at the university is a smaller than optimal, I do not believe that the University is unfair regarding diversity in admissions.  After examining the First-Year profile for the class of 2016, I learned that 67.1% of the class identifies as Caucasian, 7.8% African-American, 10% Asian and 5.9% as Hispanic.  Upon first glance the number of white students enrolled may seem shockingly large, almost 68%! And as some already believe, this may be a racist conspiracy by the University trying to kill diversity or maybe, perhaps, it’s just a projection of the demographics of North Carolina and the United States as a whole.  In 2010, the United States was made up of 72.4% Caucasians, 4.8% Asians, 12.6% African Americans, and 16.4% Hispanics.  North Carolina, similarly, was made up 68.47% Caucasian, 2.2% Asians, 21.5% African Americans, and 8.39% Hispanics.  When these numbers are compared to those of the class of 2016, one can safely conclude that the University doesn’t admit an unfair number of Caucasians.

As Mangum wrote, the number of African-Americans is down from the state and national average but so is the number of Caucasians similarly.  Should the University align its admittance based on the demographics of our country or our state, or should it merely examine the merit and situation of each individual and evaluate from there?  These statistics don’t even take into account the number of students who actually graduate high school and are eligible for college.  In fact only about 61% of African-Americans compared to 82% of Caucasians graduate high school within four years.  This proves that the gap between the races has more to do with high school graduation rates and lower education rather than discrimination from universities.  How can one expect colleges to give certain ethnicities a better chance of getting in solely based upon the color of their skin?  I don’t think this would be fair, and the numbers show that the current admissions system is fair.

This column is not written to rebut Mangum’s statement but to try and plead to those individuals who believe that race should be a main factor in admissions to take a second look at the numbers. Perhaps the best solution to separate the gap that remains between races is to stop focusing on the differences in race and selecting individuals based upon only one of their individual, unique characteristics.  Having clubs created solely for minorities and possessing such a strong emphasis on accepting certain ethnicities can often times perpetuate the idea that race defines an individual and sets them apart from the crowd.

As seen above, it is obvious the university is not being discriminatory. Therefore, if people truly want to be seen in the same light, we should band together and focus on our similarities rather than our skin color.

Emily Farthing

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