Cornell despises students of color, famous newspaper says: In this morning's New York Times, our very limited "college admissions scandal" is back in the saddle again.
As reported and charged so far, the scandal involves the fraudulent acquisition of several dozen admissions at a handful of elite colleges. Despite the small numbers involved in this scam, the famously upper-class Hamptons-based newspaper has rather plainly gone wild in its coverage of the topic.
Yesterday, an experienced Times reporter claimed that this very limited scandal, along with two other limited situations, shows that the college admission system is "broken" (see her third paragraph). Today, the Times has the scandal back on page A1, in a human interest report about the "pied piper" who was running the scam:
BOSMAN, KOVALESKI AND DE REAL (3/18/19): He was part coach, part therapist, part motivational speaker and part name dropper. Like a traveling salesman, he sought out clients near and far, selling dreams of prosperous futures.Based on what is known so far, Singer ran a deeply repellent but rather limited scam. But because this scam involves the only three things which actually matter—celebrity, wealth and admission to Yale—the Times is treating it like the outbreak of World War IV.
In central Illinois, William Singer made a passionate pitch to local business executives who came by invitation to a hotel meeting room. In Sacramento, he addressed rapt audiences of parents at private schools. He twice spoke to well-heeled employees at Pimco, the giant investment management firm based in Newport Beach, Calif.
His message was confident and concise: He knew the secret to getting into college.
Yesterday, our analysts had finally had enough! At issue was a remarkable essay in the Sunday Review section—an essay about the miseries Jennine Capó Crucet has had to endure because, as a lower-income Latina, she applied to Cornell, was accepted by Cornell and graduated from Cornell, an Ivy League school.
For reasons we can't necessarily explain, Crucet is a "contributing opinion writer" at the Times. Amazingly, yesterday's essay was the third piece she's written for the Times in the past eighteen months about the miseries she's had to endure because she applied to, was accepted by, and graduated from Cornell.
Crucet was the first in her family to attend college. For some other students at Cornell, it seems this wasn't the case.
Yesterday's belly-aching concerned the trauma Crucet endured when she spoke with a "legacy" student, during lunch, early in her freshman year.
Based on what this student said, Crucet concluded that the other student was unqualified for Cornell on a purely meritocratic basis. That may, of course, have been true.
(For all we know, of course, that could also have been true, in some regard, for Crucet herself. There's no way for a reader—or perhaps for Crucet herself—to make such an assessment.)
At any rate, the trauma of this revelation has haunted Crucet ever since. In her high-profile essay, she describes the advice she later gave to other low-income high school kids who were thinking of applying to upper-end colleges:
CRUCET (3/17/19): A decade or so after that lunch, while working at a nonprofit as a college access counselor to low-income first-generation college students like me, I made sure to tell them about legacy and development admissions. I told them about application coaches—how parents spent millions on services that all but guaranteed admission into the country’s best schools, and that colleges didn’t generally require anyone to disclose that they used those services. I wanted my students to know what they were up against, and I also wanted them to realize how much more they belonged on whatever campus was lucky enough to snag them than the students who’d essentially bought their way in.According to Crucet, the admission process at schools like Cornell is designed to discriminate against low-income students and students of color. According to Crucet, the process "is designed to let as few of us in as it can."
I reminded my students that a college degree is one of the fastest ways to break the cycle of poverty in a family. And that’s exactly why the college admissions process—with its overreliance on scores from tests that are widely regarded as biased against low-income students, students of color and students from single-parent households—is designed to let as few of us in as it can: Why invest in us when there could be a bigger payoff, in future donations, for that same spot?
That's what New York Times readers were told by one of the paper's contributing writers. Tomorrow, we'll show you the current enrollment figures at Cornell—figures which are extremely hard to square with Crucet's remarkable claim.
By this point, the analysts were already aroused. But as Crucet finished her highly dubious piece, they came right out of their chairs:
CRUCET (continuing directly): I learned too late that college was never a meritocracy and that it was not a prize: It was an extension of the same uneven playing field that created a campus where very few of its students looked and lived as I did. Part of me is glad I didn’t know, because I worry such knowledge might have discouraged me from working to get admitted in the first place.Crucet says she's almost glad that she didn't know how the system worked. If she'd known, she might have been so discouraged that she wouldn't have applied to Cornell at all.
That was quite a confession! As we read it, we couldn't help wondering how many of Crucet's students were so discouraged by her poisonous presentations that they gave up on the dream of admission at a school like Cornell.
Our analysts had had the exact same reaction. That's why they were appalled by the idea that the Times would have published this piece, the third in Crucet's moving triptych about the horrors of getting accepted as a place like Cornell.
Tomorrow, we'll show you the current enrollment data for Cornell. Those data are very hard to square with Crucet's remarkable presentation.
We'll show you the data tomorrow. As a general matter, we'll say this right now:
It can be very easy for us liberals to see propaganda and disinformation when they're peddled by players over at Fox. But the New York Times is horrible too, in ways which leave readers misinformed and help Donald Trump hold power.
Tomorrow: Let's take a look at the data