Allegedly, Harvard is still very white!


The way we look to Others: How does our infallible tribe occasionally look to The Others? In particular, how do we look to Others with regard to issues concerning gender and race?

Being able to answer such questions isn't always one of our tribe's strongest skills. For today, consider something we read at New York magazine's Intelligencer site.

James D. Walsh was doing the honors, dropping a series of bombs on "the finest schools." The headlines on his interview piece read like this:

Harvard Has Too Much Money to Have So Few Students 
Scott Galloway on elite universities’ unethical obsession with exclusivity and prestige.

At this site, we aren't big fans of the finest schools, but at one point we were struck by something Walsh said. It struck us as an odd thing to say—and we suspect that we may know how this looks to some Others:

WALSH (10/25/21): There are indications that things are changing at elite schools. Harvard, while still very white, is more diverse now than it was. Amherst announced it was dropping its admissions advantage for children of alumni. Are there regulatory fixes that could expedite these changes? Some have suggested requiring schools to spend 8 percent of their endowment annually, or earmarking a set percentage on tuition. 

That was one of the questions Walsh posed to his interview subject. That said, is it true that Harvard is "still very white?" 

Skillfully, we decided to check the demographic stats on the Class of 2025.

Weirdly, Harvard is one of those schools which doesn't acknowledge having admitted any "white" students. Still and all, the famous school does acknowledge such "admission statistics" as these:

A Brief Profile of the Admitted Class of 2025
African-American: 15.9%
Asian American: 25.9%
Hispanic or Latino: 12.5%
Native American: 1.1%
Native Hawaiian: 0.5%

According to those numbers, at least 55.9% of all admissions went to kids who aren't officially "white." At most, that means that 44.1% of all admissions went to kids who are "white."

Do those numbers make you think that Harvard is "still very white?" There is no one correct answer to that, but we'd be inclined to say "no."

Admittedly, that's just one set of numbers. At a second site, we found a breakdown in the demographics of Harvard's undergraduate student body. We're using the categories the site itself used:

Harvard University Undergraduate Racial-Ethnic Diversity Breakdown
White: 37.6%
Asian: 20.9%
International: 12.3%
Hispanic: 11.1%
Black or African American: 8.6%
Multi-Ethnic: 7.5%

This site counts "International" students as a separate (rather large) category. By this site's reckoning, American non-Hispanic whites constitute 37.6% of the undergraduate student body. Limning it a different way, they're slightly more than 40% of all American undergrads.

Looking at numbers like these, does it seem to you that Harvard is "still very white?" There's no perfect way to answer that question, but when we toss off such claims in the way Walsh did, we suspect we know what some of The Others will think:

Some of The Others will think that Harvard is actually bringing in a very diverse student body. 

But so what, some of The Others will think. Nothing will ever be good enough for our grasping progressive tribe.

Some of The Others will think they see unyielding "racial" dogmatics being enacted Over Here in our tribe. That's the way it may seem to some Others.

Do you think that those Others are wrong? Can you squint your eyes in such a way that they may have a germ of a point?


  1. "Some of The Others will think that Harvard is actually bringing in a very diverse student body."

    Meh. For some reason we're fairly confident that what they brings in is extremely homogeneous: all liberals.

  2. "we aren't big fans of the finest schools"

    What an odd thing for a teacher to say.

    1. Have you ever read this site before? Somerby has made innumerable arguments that make his reasoning for this position crystal clear.

  3. Somerby has put his finger on the scales by considering only the undergrads and not the students enrolled in grad programs and professional schools (medical school, business school, law school, etc). If those students are largely or all white, then the statement about still being very white becomes more true, without progressives making such unreasonable demands.

    1. One might also consider the whiteness of the faculty.

    2. Not to mention that whites are double the next category, multiples of the other categories, and within the context of the situation, there is no expectation the population demos should match the general population, it is a selective school.

      Whites outpace Blacks on nearly every metric. That's either genetics or environment - aka racism.

      Somerby wants nature to take it's course, wants to persuade you to think that if racism even exists, it'll work itself out, keep it on the down low. We wouldn't want to upset Trump voters and their delicate sensitivities! Brother, please. Ain't nobody buying that, except for Trump voters.

      We aren't losing any votes due to so called identity politics, to the degree we engage in identity politics, it motivates our voters, just as it always has for Republicans when they use identity politics.

  4. Somerby seems to be saying that The Other will think that there is some percentage of minority students that constitutes enough diversity, a point at which Harvard can relax its efforts to recruit such students. That is problematic. There isn't a point where everyone can stop trying to eradicate racism. These are attempts that should become part of ongoing policy and procedure at Harvard and elsewhere, not a goal to to be reached one time and then everyone can forget about it and go about things the way they were previously. It sounds like the latter is what Somerby is attributing to The Other, and if so, that is still an inappropriate reaction.

  5. "Can you squint your eyes in such a way that they may have a germ of a point?"

    No, and why should anyone make such an effort?

  6. Hey, Thoreau went to Harvard. Lay off.

  7. “But so what, some of The Others will think. Nothing will ever be good enough for our grasping progressive tribe.”

    I’m sure high-school dropout Cletus in Bumfuck, Arkansas is deeply troubled and outraged about the percentages of black students at Harvard vs whites. Why must progressives try to counteract 300 years of black oppression? It hurts little Cletus’ feefees. AND BY GOD CLETUS VOTES, just like a good little Fox News imbecile.

    1. Nice.

      We would like your hitlerian cult to publicize this sentiment unequivocally, publicly, and frequently.

    2. mh, it’s very helpful of you to so thoroughly illustrate the spirit behind all the “isms” of reflexive prejudice.

      You’re an absolute pro!

    3. And somehow The Other are never expected to worry about how they look to us. Why is that? You illustrate the faults of your side amply, Cecelia. mh is demonstrating what it looks like when our side loses patience with your (and Somerby's) bad faith attacks on strongly held liberal values.

    4. It interesting to see you defend mh by arguing that anonymices would naturally, of course, engage in a default regression to ugly stereotypes when in defensive mode.

    5. Yes, at 8:48 above, mh makes many of Mao’s and Cecelia’s points for them quite powerfully.

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