Lehigh shares its stance on affirmative action

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The admissions process for colleges and universities varies across the nation. Affirmative action has has come under scrutiny recently since Harvard has been forced to disclose its admissions process. (Maddie Braman/B&W Staff)

After Harvard University was put on trial for its practices relating to affirmative action, questions have arisen on college campuses across the nation regarding what factors are fair to consider in a college’s admissions process.

The plaintiffs in the case have accused Harvard of successfully setting a restrictive quota on the amount of Asian-Americans that the university admits each year. As the case has garnered national attention, it begs the question: How does Lehigh stand with all of this?

Bruce Bunnick, the director of admissions at Lehigh, said he feels that the case against Harvard was brought upon them because of its reputation on a global scale.

“(It is) regarded globally as one of the finest institutions in the world, based on the reputation that they have,” Bunnick said.

Bunnick said at Lehigh, the application process takes a holistic approach, with no focus on a specific group of students. Last year, the university admitted 22 percent of 15,200 total applications. 

Dan Warner, the vice provost for admissions and financial aid, said Lehigh’s financial aid, however, is decided without any consideration on race and ethnic background – albeit nationally speaking, minority students have a greater need.

“We see students of all backgrounds that require aid,” Warner said. “It is a socioeconomic consideration. The fact that we are one of the last institutions in the country that is need-blind and meets 100 percent need is impressive and that’s the club I want to be in and maintain. Race does not factor into that for us.”

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions looks specifically for factors that “speak to the student’s intellectual growth, and then we focus on what their diversity will bring to our community,” when reading applications, according to Bunnick.

As one of the GO: Campaign initiatives, much of the added resources and grants associated with the campaign will contribute to continue to meet 100 percent of need-based aid. The university’s goal is to limit loan caps and provide generous calculations on tuition for its students.

Theo Faucher, ’22, is a member of the College Democrats. He said that he believes affirmative action needs to change with the times.

“A lot of the discrimination on college campuses is much more wealth based rather than race based,” he said. “I think that if affirmative action is implemented, it should be based on income rather than race.”

Faucher said the Lehigh community, in general, lacks diversity. However, he acknowledges that it is not the fault of admissions. He said he believes that the process of need-based aid and the holistic application approach is a step in the right direction to balance diversity on campus.

“If I were to offer advice to improve on the current diversity situation, I would say that Lehigh should reach out to more minority communities and market to those groups of people and areas that are underrepresented here,” Faucher said.

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