LSA Honors to Revise Admissions Criteria

The Daily shines a bright light on a huge black mark at the University: the enormous bias towards wealthy white students in admissions to the “honors” program, something that engendered a lively debate when I posted posted about it in July. In short, the honors program until recently used a rigid minimum GPA and SAT score to invite people to join the program, resulting in an extremely homogeneous community. According to the article, “The program will use the new undergraduate application to look at candidates more holistically,” although it’s unclear exactly how that will happen.

“At nine in the morning, about 500 freshman honors students listlessly assemble for Prof. H.D. Cameron’s lecture. On this morning, Great Books 191 seats one black person.

The glaring lack of underrepresented minorities is no secret to students in the Honors Program, a division of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Since the program is relatively small – enrolling about 2,000 students – most students and administrators have noticed the lack of blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

Statistics and records on the program’s racial composition are not available to the public. But the visible lack of minority students, who are statistically less likely to obtain such scores, indicates that the standards were more rigidly enforced. The program’s director, Stephen Darwall, confirmed that students were once admitted “by and large based on test scores and grades.”

“That was the University’s entire argument, that racial diversity is beneficial to the academic experience. If that’s what the University believes and it’s not extended to all its programs, then the University’s failing itself. If the belief is that true diversity is diversity of ideas, then it’s not,” said Ruben Duran, LSA senior and editor in chief of the Michigan Review.”

> Daily: “Honors Program criticized for shortage of diversity”

Here’s what I had to say in July:

“1) The honors admissions criteria- simply a minimum GPA and SAT score – is flawed. If the University recently won a supreme court decision by arguing in part that test scores alone are not enough to determine admissions, why does the honors program do it? The honors program should put more effort in communicating to incoming students, trying to recruit intellectually curious people through a broad variety of criteria, including students’ geographic and economic backgrounds, race, academic interests, and activities.

2) Prof. Darwall should focus not exclusively on forging an honors community, but an intellectual community in general at Michigan. By limiting events and resources to LSA Honors participants, they leave out many students who have much to give, and, I think, make the honors program unnecessarily elitist. I believe the Perlman Honors Commons and events held there should be open to all students – providing academic resources to motivated students is one thing, but creating a space exclusively for honors students at the center of campus is another entirely. “

Author: Rob