In 2005 and 2006, Ohio State was six times more likely to reject a white student than a black student with the same credentials, according to a recent study.
The study, which The Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think-tank based in Falls Church, Va., conducted over the last year, analyzed trends in applicants to OSU and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The study highlighted racial discrimination in OSU’s admissions against white, and to a lesser extent, Asian students.
Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of CEO, said his organization has been conducting similar studies nationwide for 15 years. He said the results at OSU were not unusual.
“Frequently, universities will say that they consider race and ethnicity simply as a tiebreaker or simply as one factor, and I think that what this shows is that race is not simply being used as a tiebreaker, it’s a huge factor in determining who gets in,” Clegg said.
Dolan Evanovich, vice president for strategic enrollment planning, said the university placed value in diversity access and inclusiveness.
“We are focused on creating a welcoming environment for all types of students at Ohio State,” Evanovich said.
Clegg said the study analyzed the data with a variety of factors, including odds ratios, probabilities of admission, gaps in test scores, high-school grades and admission versus rejection results.
Evanovich said OSU adopted a holistic review process in 2003 after a Supreme Court decision.
“(The holistic review process) includes information deeper than grade point averages and test scores,” Evanovich said. “We look at the strength and rigor of an applicant’s curriculum, the strength of their high school, personal essays, work experience, leadership, extracurricular activities and life experiences.”
Clegg said OSU is the largest university in the country that continues to use racial preferences. He said this was significant because OSU is a public university.
“It seems like it’s pretty equal around here, It’s pretty diverse,” said Sean Durner, a third-year in actuarial science. “If I was rejected by Ohio State, it wouldn’t have been based on race, but my intelligence and my GPA.”
The discrimination could flow both ways, Clegg said, and could adversely affect minority students.
“This is obviously unfair to the people who were discriminated against, but even those who received discrimination in their favor, can be hurt by this kind of discrimination because it feeds stereotypes and it also can result in students being admitted to schools where they’re less likely to graduate,” Clegg said.
Evanovich said that since the implementation of the holistic review process, graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic students at OSU have increased.
“This is an issue that could be presented to the voters, if the university refuses to change and the state legislators refuse to get involved,” Clegg said. “We simply can’t have public officials, including public university officials, classifying people by skin color and what country their ancestors came from and treating some of them better and others worse depending on which silly little box they checked.”
Admissions processes are reviewed constantly, Evanovich said, to ensure no laws are being broken.
Thomas Bradley contributed to this story.