Undergraduate enrollment at Cornell!


As compared to the Times' propaganda:
Should the New York Times adopt a new motto? Should its old motto give way to this:

All the news which fits the script?

So it might seem if we consider the way the Times has treated the recent "college admissions scandal."

As we've noted, this scandal is very limited in scope. The behavior involved has been egregious, but very few people seem to have been involved.

Yesterday, Kevin Drum complained about "the unbelievable amount of attention paid to a tiny little college admissions scandal." He then tried to quantify the extent of the scam. This is what he came up with:
DRUM (3/18/19): We still don’t know how many people were involved, but it appears to be something like 0.01 percent of the entering freshman class of America’s most elite universities. This is a rounding error, and it’s for a scandal that only affects about 5 or 6 percent of American families in the first place. What’s more, it’s just standard issue cheating, not even a symptom of some new or systemic problem. It deserved a few column inches on A7, not flood-the-zone coverage everywhere we looked.
As best anyone knows at this time, this heinous behavior has involved a very small number of college admissions. The blanket coverage at the Times is a sign of gruesome journalistic judgment in service to upper-class values, in which admission to Stanford or Yale is the only event which actually counts.
The Times has grossly over-covered this severely limited matter. It has also taken the opportunity to grossly mislead its readers in service to a preferred narrative. Once again, let's consider what Jennine CapĆ³ Crucet has said.

Crucet wrote an essay for the Times about admission procedures at Cornell. Her piece appeared in this weekend's Sunday Review section. At one point, she said this:
CRUCET (3/17/19): [W]hile 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 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.


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?
According to Crucet, the college admission process "is designed to let as few [students of color] in as it can." Given the overall thrust of her essay, she was presumably talking about admissions to "elite," upper-end colleges.

Since Crucet's essay involved the miseries involved in attending Cornell, we decided to take a look at Cornell's enrollment data.

Has Cornell been trying to admit as few students of color as possible? That's the impression the Times conveyed when it published Crucet's piece. But according to NCES data, undergraduate enrollment at Cornell currently looks like this:
Undergraduate enrollment, Cornell
White students: 38%
Black students: 7%
Hispanic/Latino students: 13%
Asian-American students: 19%
Two or more races: 5%
Race/ethnicity unknown: 8%
Foreign students: 11%
Those are the official NCES data. We'll summarize them like this:

According to the NCES, 38% of undergraduates at Cornell are white American kids. Some 39% are American "students of color," with an additional 5% listed as biracial American kids.

You'll note that foreign students are treated as a separate category in the NCES statistics. No attempt is made to report their race or ethnicity. An additional 8% of undergraduates seem to be American students for whom race/ethnicity is unknown.

That said, does it look to you like Crucet's alma mater is doing everything it can to eliminate "students of color?" We think the Times committed one of its many grievous offenses when it put Crucet's essay in print, in a very high-profile section no less.

That said, Crucet's endless bellyaching did advance a favored narrative, in which it's still 1955 and no one but whites need apply. Crucet's irate assertions very much fit this treasured script. Again and again, this is the way the New York Times seems to report educational issues, whether in the public schools or in the nation's colleges.

Tomorrow, we'll show you comparable data for the colleges involved in the current limited matter. We'll also show you basic data for all eight Ivy League schools.

The basic facts are hard to square with the propaganda the Times has been selling. At this point, does this ridiculous upper-class newspaper ever do anything right? Does the Times consult basic data at all? Or is it script all the way down?

Tomorrow: Stanford and Harvard and Yale oh my! If you read the Times, you might be surprised, perhaps even pleased, by the actual data.


  1. "As we've noted, this scandal is very limited in scope. The behavior involved has been egregious, but very few people seem to have been involved."

    Compared to the population of New Zealand, only a few people were affected by the shooting there. 50 out of millions isn't much, so why the big fuss?

    It is the egregiousness of the crime that matters, not the number of victims. Does Trump's lying matter because of the number of lies or because of the fact that he tells blatant lies?

    Somerby is an ass.

  2. "We'll also show you basic data for all eight Ivy League schools."

    As someone noted a few days ago, the scandal isn't about the Ivy Leagues but about top research universities across the country, including UCLA and USC which are not part of the Ivy League.

  3. Those tests may be "widely regarded" as biased, but my understanding is that since Stephen Jay Gould's book "The Mismeasure of Man" and lawsuits based on bias, the testing services have bent over backwards to eliminate racial and gender bias from their tests. They norm the questions to make sure they are not selecting on the basis of race.

    Somerby should explore whether there is indeed still racial bias in educational admissions testing. That is a bigger complaint and a problem if it is in fact a misperception, especially among minority students.

    1. I agree @11:36. AFAIK there's no evidence that these tests are biased. On the contrary, they do a good job of predicting student performance.

      By using a standard of "widely regarded", the Times is essentially spreading old wives tales.

    2. “AFAIK”. Well, that settles it, then.

    3. They don't actually do a good job of predicting performance because motivation and obstacles such as working a job have a bigger effect on grades. That's why admissions staff use other criteria besides test scores to admit students.

      The other universities on the list where cheating has occurred are very different places than somewhere like Cornell, in terms of student demographics, student culture, expectations and experiences. Somerby only knows the Ivy League and he only cares about young journalists (preferably female) who appear to have gotten their jobs on newspapers through channels he considers improper (not the same as in the good old days when news reporters couldn't type or spell and came from the mean streets, etc., etc. He only cares about this story because the writer pisses him off, not because he cares about college students and the pressures they face.

  4. "Yesterday, Kevin Drum complained about "the unbelievable amount of attention paid to a tiny little college admissions scandal.""

    Heh-heh, poor liberals. Squirming and fidgeting every time their sanctimonious superstars are caught in another corruption scandal.

    Here's an idea, dear Bob and Kevin: Putin made them do it!

    Repeat after me: The Russkies! The Russkies! An equivalent of 9/11!

    1. Putin says they should blame their actions on Liberals. That's what he had the Neo-Nazis in the GOP do, and now they own the Executive and Judicial branches of government.

    2. The people caught cheating are both liberals and conservatives. This is a bipartisan scandal.

    3. Meh. Apparently Felicity Huffman is enough, to cause serious liberal discomfort...

    4. Yes. Felicity Huffman sits on the throne at the right hand of the Liberal God Maddow, issuing directives in her spare time while also starring in Desperate Housewives. When One of Our Liberal Gods is brought low, we All grieve, as the Liberal Universe is tainted by mere association with the Bad Behavior of a Single Liberal. We may not leave our homes for a few days.

    5. You don't grieve, dembot. You bitch and moan and complain that "the unbelievable amount of attention paid to a tiny little college admissions scandal."

      Comically trying to justify your whine by 'estimates' like: it "only affects about 5 or 6 percent of American families". Only! Lol.

    6. Mao, what the hell happened??? not one, not two, but three people beat you out today - you came in fourth in posting a comment. Pretty poor. Maybe daydreaming when you should have been clicking. Must be a bad day for you, and it shows in your stupid comments (Felicity Huffman = dembot "superstar???- where do you get that?? You keep this up and Victor Orban might have to let you go.

  5. "Crucet's endless bellyaching"

    Some people might call this advocacy.

    Who calls the complaints of POC "bellyaching"? Mostly conservatives. Not any liberals I know. Why does Somerby keep calling himself a liberal while he behaves like a conservative? Could be he is confused about his white identity. Could also be he is being paid to confuse the left by portraying himself as a liberal while espousing conservative memes and talking points. Hard to decide without knowing him. Maybe he is becoming "mentally ill" and we should tell someone. Who? Does anyone know any of his relatives?

  6. If Somerby is going to use statistics to show there is no discrimination at Ivy League schools, what does he think about the lawsuit filed by Asian students against Harvard for discrimination?


  7. "Ivy League schools enroll more students from the top one percent than they do from the bottom 50 percent"
    The article in the Time which Somerby cites is full of complaints about Cornell's bias against low-income students. That bias is obvious and undeniable from the statistic I quoted above.
    It seems like Somerby ignored what Crucet wrote and made his judgement purely on the color of her skin. If she's non-white and complaining, she must be bellyaching on behalf of black students.
    I've seen Somerby post wrongheaded stuff before, but these last two posts go beyond that in the intensity of his dishonesty, and his barely disguised racism.
    And then he attacks the Times for its "upper class values"!

    1. "That bias is obvious and undeniable from the statistic I quoted above."

      Dear Robert,
      Your statistic would only demonstrate a bias if Ivy League schools' admission policies were as follows:
      1. pick random names from the full database of US citizens, and
      2. enroll them whether they want it or not.

      And since their admission policies are nothing like that, your claim only demonstrates the usual liberal stupidity.

      I'll admit that obvious and undeniable liberal stupidity in combination with ritualistic accusations of racism makes a good comment, but unfortunately even here you managed to fuck it up.

      You accusation of racism was good, but haven't you noticed that Bob here is criticising, in an infidel manner, a person with female genitalia? And don't you know that this constitutes misogyny? Where's your accusation of misogyny, Robert?

    2. Mao, I used Somerby's own criteria. He's the one who claimed the numbers don't bear out Crucet's claim. The numbers I quote (which are from the Jan 23, 2017 issue of the Cornell Daily Sun) certainly do bear out what Crucet wrote, don't you agree?
      Sure, you are entitled, Mao, to hope that there is some kind or alternative explanation. But the numbers I quote are still there, like a "trout in the milk".

    3. First, thank you for your civilized reply, and I apologize for excessive sarcasm.

      Still, I don't see how your (or any other similar) statistics could provide any (let alone "obvious and undeniable") evidence of a bias.

      If you want something resembling evidence, you might want to produce, at the very least, the statistics on SAT scores of 1-percenters applying for admission to the Ivy League schools vs 99-percenters applying for admission to the Ivy League schools...

  8. I was saving my sarcasm for my second reply, Mao, but now you crossed me up.
    Daniel Golden, in The Price of Admission, writes about the ways the admission process is rigged for the wealthy. The book is full of SAT scores, and it actually names the wealthy children, which is a plus. Golden backs this up with a fair amount of statistics on SAT scores.
    Of course, the quote from Daily Sun are not "irrefutable" as I claimed, but it would have to be a pretty extraordinary refutation.
    As to Somerby's "racism", Crucet says "low income" and Somerby hears "non-white." Maybe he has another, better explanation, but it's worth raising the issue, because racism seems the simplest way to explain his post.

  9. He copied the meaningless (imo) construct "students of color" from her piece.

    Now, as I reread it, it appears that she doesn't accuse the university of bias as much as the tests ("widely regarded as biased against low-income students, students of color and students from single-parent households").

    I can't imagine how tests can be biased against the skin tint (as such) or the number of parents in the households. So, yes: socioeconomic status.

    All this very much sounds like some sort of naive interpretation of sociology of culture a-la Bourdieu.

    Sure, the Ivy League is not going to test in Ebonics. Sure, social domination, cultural reproduction, and all that.

    But this is not 'bias'. That's the absolutely normal - and the only possible - way capitalist socioeconomic systems function.

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