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With A Brooklyn Accent: Some Thoughts on Ivy League Admissions-And Affirmative Action- For Donald Trump (Participation)

April 22, 2012

Some Thoughts on Ivy League Admissions-And Affirmative Action- For Donald Trump

Professor Mark Naison

Fordham University

Donald Trump’s comments that Barack Obama didn’t have the grades to get into Ivy League

Schools shows a profound ignorance of the admissions policies of those institutions. According to Bowen, Shapiro et all who thoroughly researched the admissions policies of elite universities in the US ( and whose conclusions can be found in their 2002 book The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values) the greatest admissions advantage at those schools goes not to children of alumni, or underrepresented minorities, but to recruited athletes! Not only are their twice as many recruited athletes as underrepresented minorities at these schools, but the admissions advantage accruing to an athlete, whether male or female, is twice as powerful as those given to a minority or a “legacy”.

We are not talking about a small number of students here. At most Ivy League schools, close to 20 percent of the undergraduates are recruited athletes, and at Williams College, they

constitute 40 percent of the student population. Given the variety of the sports encompassed, which go from lacrosse, to golf, to tennis to sailing, to soccer, to hockey along with softball, baseball, basketball and football, it turns out that the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries of

“sports affirmative action” are white. Not only are these athletes admitted with significantly lower grades and SAT’s than the university mean, but their grades in college tend to be lower than those of their fellow students. Nevertheless, their incomes after college are no lower than those of their fellow students because a large proportion of them go into careers in the financial sector, which go out of their way to recruit “Ivy league athletes” as key components of their work force.

The populist resentment of allegedly “undeserving” minorities who push hardworking white students out of top college- which Trump is exploiting with his rhetoric- turns out to be misplaced. To put the matter bluntly, there are a lot more white hockey and football players who get into Ivy League schools with SAT’s below the school norm than there are Black and Latino students from the inner city. As someone who spent more than 15 years coaching athletes from diverse racial and class backgrounds in Brooklyn in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I know this from personal experience as well as research. One young woman I worked with, a nationally ranked tennis player who was highly recruited by every Ivy League college, actually got a letter from Harvard telling her that her target SAT score for admission was 1100! Another young man from our community, a highly recruited left handed pitcher, was told that his admission target for Princeton was 1200, with an expected verbal score of 600 because “Princeton has a lot of reading.” Needless to say, both of those young people were white!

So much for “undeserving minorities” pushing white kids out of top colleges! To put this in perspective, I have taught African American Studies at Fordham for more than 40 years and talked to hundreds of Black and Latino students about their college recruitment experiences. Not one of them has mentioned being given SAT targets that low for admission to Harvard, Yale or Princeton!

Donald Trump needs to find a new subject for his demagoguery. If Barack Obama got into Columbia with lower grades and SAT’s scores than the college mean, he was only one of many students- the vast majority of whom were white- who fell into that category. And his success, along with so many others so admitted, should be a warning that traits measurable on standardized tests are not the only indicators of talent and potential that should be considered for university admission. When Ivy League schools admit students, irrespective of the scores they register on standardized tests, they almost never drop out, and usually achieve professional success after graduation. Whether these schools should have as much power as they do in American society is another question, but none of the students they bring in are programmed to “fail.”

Columbia College chose wisely in admitting Barack Obama. His admission was only one small part of a broad policy for creating a student body diverse in talent as well as cultural background from which far more whites than ethnic and racial minorities were beneficiaries

Mark Naison

Aprl 27, 2011

via With A Brooklyn Accent: Some Thoughts on Ivy League Admissions-And Affirmative Action- For Donald Trump.

via With A Brooklyn Accent: Some Thoughts on Ivy League Admissions-And Affirmative Action- For Donald Trump.

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13 Comments
  1. Megan Grichel permalink

    This article was suprising to me. I couldn’t believe that 40% of the students and Williams are athletes. Almost half of the population was there for athletics rather than academics.This is another article that validates the inconsistencies and preferences in the admission process. Donald Trump shouldn’t have said anything against Obama’s education, since there are many factors that can influence admission into universities or a persons choice in schools.

  2. Tucker Creek permalink

    This is a classic case of where whites feel like they are entitled to more since that has always been the way in the past, and now that we are trying to push to equality which means that whites will have to take a hit in numbers they think they are being targeted. There is people who think that the world is trending toward reverse racism even if all it is just becoming more equal and less caring about race. I am not surprised Trump would say something like that, growing up in the past times he did you may think that he feels that whites are more entitled to what they want over someone else of another race.

  3. Reed Clarridge permalink

    My first thought was the same as Megan’s. Wow. 40%. Why is there no attention on this issue, but plenty on affirmative action? Naison brings up a good point. I’m going to have to bring up the dialogue about the number of whites who receive lower than average scores the next time I hear about the evils of affirmative action. I usually hate the commodification of anything, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether college sports should be separate from the university systems? It seems the academic and instruction functions of the schools receive little back from the sports department.

    • Brittany dyess permalink

      I don’t think that college sports should be completely eliminated from the university system,but i di think that their athletic ability or “their hobby” should have any leniency on admissions,gov assistance,or school resources such as extra notes,higher demand free tutors,or “pats on the back”. When I hear athletes say the advantages they have being a student athlete,moreso underpriveledged minority,I do think its unfair.

    • Jennifer Shoff permalink

      I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they should be totally seperate. Part of why people love college so much is because of the sports and the pride they have. I do however agree that academics can sometimes be put on the backburner when it comes to athletes.Balancing being an athlete and a student is extremely difficult I’m sure and it would be nice if more effort was put into education instead of sports.

    • Trevor Harper permalink

      I don’t think sports should be completely separate as others have stated, athletics are a big part of universities. However, the percentages presented in this article make me think Ivy league schools are putting too much weight on being an athlete, and especially at Williams College. It seems there should be some attention drawn to the issues this article presents, because it shows some people are reaping the benefits of a Ivy league school education due to being an athlete, when some people may be more deserving to get that chance.

  4. Brittany dyess permalink

    I’m so confused as to why Donald Trump keeps judging PRESIDENT obamas character,ability,and past.Regardless if he recieved all D+’s throughout his entire term In college and still became president today,why would it matter??If he’s capable of being trustworthy,driven,and qualified enough,than he should be left alone to do his job!
    This is where this quote comes in,” his success, along with so many others so admitted, should be a warning that traits measurable on standardized tests are not the only indicators of talent and potential that should be considered for university admission. “

  5. Victoria Kolytiris permalink

    I honestly think Donald Trump personally just has a problem with President Obama and that is clear why he stated that. Many athletes do receive more privileges than the normal student because of their superior athletic ability. The school supports this though because athletics is what helps make the school money and ultimately that is the goal for most universities.

  6. Jennifer Shoff permalink

    This article just proves people’s ignorance toward Affirmative Action. As far as Affirmative Action goes people need to stop believing everything they hear and educate themselves on this extremely relevant and important issue. I didn’t find it too surprising that many athletes get superior treatment at Ivy League schools because it happens at tons of schools. I can’t say that that really bothers me. Attending a Division 1 school I find going to sporting events a huge part of my college experience and I especially like it when we are winning. Recruiting good athletes is a great tactic used by colleges to make the school seem more desirable for others to attend.

  7. Bryce Jackson permalink

    It was really surprising that 40% of the students and Williams are athletes. That is basically saying that half of the school’s population were there for athletics rather than academics. I understand that college athletics are a big deal and that balancing sports with academics is quiet hard. I really don’t get why he has such a problem with Obama’s education. I really don’t think college athletics should be separated from the admissions. College athletics brings in a good amount of money for schools and helps get new things around campus. Sports only help a university. Student athletes do get more advantages but they do have to balance school and sports which is quiet hard.

  8. Todd Mehrkens permalink

    This article really opened up my eyes. I never would have guessed that Ivy league schools had most of their students come to the school as athletes. When reading the article it kept telling that schools were telling the athletes to target certain SAT score, which were way below the average for the school. I don’t think it is unfair that these schools are allowing these students into the school with poor academics because they make it up in their extra curricular activities (sports). These athletes spend a lot practicing instead of studying, which hurts them academically.

  9. I feel that finding a balance between students and athletes in college is hard. On one hand, sports brings in A LOT of money and also it’s what makes college so much fun!! However, I can see it being difficult for professors when they have athletes in the classroom who are having a hard time learning. It’s unfair to students who work hard to pass there classes when professors are more lenient with athletes. I don’t take it too personally though as a student because I know that athletes bring a lot to the table.

    • Do we think the same thing about legacies or those who are admitted under other circumstances (parents gave money) – why not?

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