Survey: Dartmouth students prefer nonwhite faculty, classmates

A Dartmouth College survey found that, all else equal, students favor hiring nonwhite professors and admitting nonwhite students over their white peers.

Greater faculty diversity is among the most frequent demands made by student activists, with 80 schools having received such ultimatums to date, according to Recently, two Dartmouth professors surveyed students from their school about the trend, asking them to choose between hypothetical candidates in both hiring and admissions scenarios.

The polls were conducted by Social Sciences and Government professor John Carey and Japanese Studies and Government professor Yusaku Horiuchi, and revealed relatively consistent bias in favor of nonwhite candidates across almost all groups of students.

“First, Dartmouth students broadly support more demographic diversity in faculty recruitment and in undergraduate admissions,” the authors begin a summary of their conclusions.

“Second, some groups of students want a diverse faculty more than others, but effectively all groups want a diverse student body. Third, we found no evidence that groups are polarized about diversity. We never found one group—say, African American students—whose preferences directly oppose students from another group—say, whites.”

The professors first share their findings regarding diversity and choices to admit hypothetical students.

“Holding all else equal, students preferred an African American or Native American applicant by 15 percentage points over a white applicant, and a Hispanic or Latino applicant over a white applicant by about 7 percentage points,” report Carey and Horiuchi. “They slightly preferred a woman over a man; strongly preferred a socioeconomically disadvantaged student over the affluent; and a first-generation college applicant over one coming from a family where college has been the norm.”

Responses concerning faculty diversity reflected a similar preference for hiring minority professors over their white peers.

“All else equal, [students] preferred an African American candidate by 12 percentage points over a white candidate; an American Indian or Hispanic by 9 percentage points; and an Asian American by 5 percentage points.

“But that preference varied by the demographics of the students,” say the professors. “African American students place tremendous priority on recruiting non-white—and especially black—faculty, preferring an African American faculty candidate by 51 percentage points over an equivalent white applicant, holding all other attributes equal. (White students are also more likely to select the African American faculty candidate than the white one, but by a far lesser degree.)

“And Dartmouth women consider diversity a higher priority than do men. Yes, they want more female faculty members, but they’re just as committed to more faculty members from all underrepresented race and ethnicity categories.”

“No group opposed diversity,” the study asserted. “White students overall, male students overall, and white males in particular are effectively indifferent to a candidate’s race and gender.”

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