Aidan O’Neill, Semani Yehdego, Imani Thompson, Makena Wong
THE SANTA CLARA
February 25, 2016
President Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”
These words hold true to this day. The political climate may have shifted, but the message remains intact and relevant, especially for universities around the country.
Last week, over 750 prospective Santa Clara students and their family members visited our campus.
Many of them already knew the school’s facts and figures, or at least had a general idea—the average class size of 23, the 96 percent retention rate, the $60,000 price tag—but they wanted to know the whole story.
They wanted to feel the sunshine, walk along the cobblestone paths, crane their heads to look at the palm trees and talk to the students. All the while, they wondered if their own scores were high enough to gain admission. Yet, it’s not just about the numbers.
When it comes down to it, GPA and test scores only show a two-dimensional image of a student. Schools like Santa Clara recognize that these numbers do not represent a student enough to admit or deny him or her based off this information alone.
Our university in particular prides itself on a “holistic” application-reading process, which seeks to create a more complete rendering of each applicant. Context matters, and this extends beyond academics.
Community service, experiences of overcoming adversity, alumni relatives, coming from out-of-state and even graduating from a Jesuit high school are all factors taken into consideration. Another one is race.
Admissions counselors consider these components because they influence an applicant’s perspective upon entering college, and race is no different. No matter how little or how much our racial identity shapes us, it inevitably effects our experiences. Regardless of how we view ourselves, the way others perceive us will indefinitely influence our interactions.
Unfortunately, racial identity has given some students a leg up in the application and admissions process, while forcing others to fight harder for an acceptance letter.
America’s history of racial oppression has negatively impacted several minority groups’ economic opportunities. The minority poverty rate is close to double that of white Americans.
The wealth disparity alone disproportionately decreases these students’ access to opportunities that enhance college applications—summer trips abroad, SAT tutors, college visits, etcetera. Admissions offices take this disparity into consideration.
Increasing minority groups’ access to all levels of education would be a major step towards closing this economic opportunity gap.
In an ideal world, the question of race on a college application would be as irrelevant as asking whether one is left or right handed.
In a just world, our school’s demographics would better reflect the Bay Area’s racial melting pot. However, neither of these are a reality.
Our university’s admissions process is designed to push towards acheiving that ideal, rather than remain in the status quo.
Aidan O’Neill is a junior economics major, Semani Yehdego is a senior marketing major, Imani Thompson is a sophomore biology major and Makena Wong is a junior civil engineering major. They are all student ambassadors.
Articles in the opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University.