With less than 10 days to go before May 1 — when admitted students must decide whether to attend Penn — some are wondering if recent claims of racism on campus could deter minority students from matriculating into the Class of 2015.
The Penn community was alerted to a student’s encounter with racism through a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column published Tuesday.
In the column, College of Liberal and Professional Studies student Christopher Abreu described a run-in with racism on campus this month and advised minority applicants to steer clear of the University.
In response, more than 200 students and faculty members joined in a silent protest against racism Wednesday on College Green.
“It is hard to say how this will impact this year’s enrolled class or applications in subsequent years,” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda wrote in an email.
However, he added that the Admissions Office “will work even harder to build on the success of admitting the most diverse class in Penn’s history.”
Furda wrote that his reaction to the experience Abreu described “was one of pure disgust.”
“If we’ve made our case well, then I don’t think this one incident will define a student’s decision,” said Associate Dean of Admissions Sean Vereen, who works on the opportunity and access team in the Admissions Office. “What’s more telling about Penn is the community’s response [to the column], not the column itself.”
Others, though, were not so optimistic that the University will continue to see strong yield numbers among minority students.
Michael Goran, a 1976 College graduate and founder of IvySelect College Consulting, believes the recent incident could “definitely” cause a drop in minority students at Penn.
“Any time you get into a sensitive area like this, you can cause quite a firestorm,” he said. Especially at this stage, “something like this could be a tipping point in admissions decision-making.”
Maria Morales-Kent, director of college counseling at The Thacher School in Ojai, Calif., said it will be important for the Admissions Office “to address the big elephant in the room” if prospective students ask about the recent events.
Morales-Kent — who worked as a Penn admissions officer in the 1980s when many prospective students and parents were concerned about campus safety in light of the presence of MOVE, a black liberation group — added that the University must be sure to “get rid of any incorrect assumptions about campus life so students and families have the right information.”
During a campus tour which passed by the protest on Wednesday, College freshman Jessica Stokes, a Kite and Key Society tour guide, said visitors were interested in learning more about what was happening. Though Stokes was not fully aware of the issues that had prompted the protest, she said she told visitors “that Penn is one of the most active, diverse and welcoming environments I’ve seen.”
Daniel McCord, a black student who was admitted regular decision from Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, N.Y., said Abreu’s column will have no impact on his college choice.
“I’ve never gotten any negative feelings about [the University] in that way,” said McCord, who is currently considering offers from Penn, as well as Duke and Princeton universities and the University of Virginia. “If racism was a prevalent enough problem at Penn, I think I would’ve heard about it.”Comments powered by Disqus
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