Now that the Court has ruled against use of race as a “plus” in admissions decision-making, Middlebury will abide by the Court’s decision and adapt our policies, programs, and practices. There is already extensive use of race-neutral alternatives in admissions, including at Middlebury, ranging from emphasis on identifying first-generation college students, seeking geographic diversity, collaborating with organizations like the Posse Foundation, and other ways to increase the range of students who learn about and apply to four-year higher education institutions.
The admissions program of Colorado University Boulder is an example of a race-neutral alternative in practice. CU Boulder views its applicants’ financial need as well as statistical indicators of their socioeconomic status when deciding their admission. Using these data points, the school can generate two important metrics: the Disadvantage Index, which quantifies the socioeconomic obstacles an applicant has faced throughout their academic career, and the Overachievement Index, which estimates the applicant’s academic success with respect to these obstacles. These indexes allow the school to flag applicants who outperform their peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Initial research found that these indexes resulted in a student body with a higher percentage of students of underrepresented minority status than CU Boulder’s past race-based affirmative action programs. While the findings are limited to CU Boulder’s applicant demographic and need-conscious status, its supporters argue that it “suggests that an end to race-based affirmative action need not be devastating for campus diversity.”
Middlebury will continue to look for opportunities and holistic approaches that offer access to a wide range of students with certain experiences, like those overcoming racial bias or discrimination, and will strive to ensure that the population of Middlebury is a reflection of the country and world we live in, and the leadership we wish to see in our institutions. Middlebury has made great strides in recruiting amazing, more diverse classes and providing an enriching student learning experience for all. Our vision of creating a robust and inclusive public sphere where our students can contribute to solving the world’s most challenging problems demands that we continue to seek talent everywhere from all walks of life.
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