Conventional wisdom says Asian-American applicants face higher hurdle than others at elite colleges. Federal probe raises question of whether differential standards can be proven and -- if so -- would violate the law.
A black woman who is a student at Duke University reported to officials there that last weekend a group of while male students taunted her with the racist chant used by a University of Oklahoma fraternity. That accusation has led to a larger debate at Duke. A group called the People of Color Caucus issued an online statement that said that the chant was not an "isolated incident" but part of a pattern of racist incidents at Duke and elsewhere. A hashtag -- #whatweneedfromduke -- has become a forum for people to share thoughts on these issues, while others have been putting up posters (at right) on what they believe the university needs to do.
Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth issued a joint statement Thursday in which they said that the reported incident with the racist chant was being investigated. Their statement said in part: "In the face of this situation both nationally and close to home, we want to underline Duke’s fundamental values. Inclusivity and mutual respect are core values for any civil society, but they have a special meaning in a university. Thinking in stereotypes is a failure of intelligence. Education begins the day we learn to pass beyond crude and distorting simplifications. Further, a university is based on the premise that we are all here to learn from each other, which requires a broad measure of inclusion and openness to others’ experience and points of view."
One of the two students expelled from the University of Oklahoma over a fraternity's racist chant has apologized to black leaders in Oklahoma City, and then to the public, The New York Times reported. The former student, Levi Pettit, said the chant was "mean, hateful and racist." After a meeting with black leaders at a church, he said: “Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly. The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those most directly impacted. The truth is what was said in that chant is disgusting, and after meeting with these people, I’ve learned these words should never be repeated.”
President Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post, responded to question about how the University of Oklahoma responded (in part by expelling two students and kicking a fraternity off campus) to a video showing a fraternity chant about not admitting black students to their organization. And the president strongly backed the university's actions, while offering some perspective on the incident.
The president's answer: "Look, at any given point on any given day, somebody is doing something stupid out there. In the age of the Internet, it's going to attract attention. I don't think this is the first time that somebody at a fraternity has done something stupid, racist, sexist. It won't be the last. What was heartening was the quick response from President Boren, somebody who I know well and I know who has great integrity. The quick reaction from the student body. You know, the way we have to measure progress here is not, 'Is there ever going to be an incident of racism in the country?' It's, 'How does the majority of our country respond?' And on that front, there's no doubt that the overwhelming number of students at the University of Oklahoma, and around the country, think that kind of behavior is deplorable and don't accept it. Frankly, 30 years ago or 40 years ago, there might have been a different reaction and more tolerance for that kind of racist chant."