Harvard Report Shows Significant Drop In Black Student Enrollment

Harvard Report Shows Significant Drop In Black Student Enrollment

The report showed that the number of Black or African American students at the school dropped from 68 in 2021 to 31 this year.

The Harvard Kennedy School has witnessed a significant drop in enrollment rates for Black students in 2023 compared to the 2021 academic year.

On Nov. 14, the school released an annual diversity report to “understand demographic diversity at the Kennedy School and see where we need to improve,” according to Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf. In doing so, he pledged to create a diversity task force of faculty, staff, and students to increase the demographic diversity of the student body. 

The report revealed that the number of Black students at the school dropped from 68 in 2021 to 31 this year. Since affirmative action was eliminated from college admissions, the school has also seen a drop in the percentage of enrolled African-American students.

To support students, the Kennedy School plans to address students’ concerns about the lack of need-based application fee waivers and emergency financial aid. In fact, the school is the only Harvard school besides the extension school that did not provide need-based application fee waivers. So, in February, First-Generation and Low-Income Caucus students penned a letter to Elmendorf suggesting that many other students “probably did not apply” because of the fee application.

Applicants are required to pay a $100 fee.

“If HKS truly cares about diversifying its class, the very least it can do is implement a clear, streamlined process for getting fee waivers, if not waiving them for low-income and FLI students altogether as other universities have done,” the letter reads.

Furthermore, the school intends to mandate “implicit bias training for degree program admissions.” Harvard is no stranger to being under investigation for its imperfect admissions processes. In 2019, a judge recommended that “Harvard provide admissions officers with implicit bias training, keep clear guidelines on the consideration of race in the admissions process, and monitor statistics for potential racial disparities.”

In the case brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina by Students for Fair Admissions, judges ruled that Harvard’s information about the “legacy status, athletic status, financial aid eligibility and race is disclosed to the admissions committee at the last stage of the decision-making process,” The Washington Post reported.

But the tradition of “legacy” college admissions came under increased scrutiny after the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling. In July, the United States Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation into legacy admissions at Harvard University, which sparked debate over the long-standing practice, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported. The federal government wanted to examine if legal admissions created an unfair playing field for prospective students. Since then, Harvard has taken critical measures to its admissions policies.

According to University President Claudine Gay, the call to end the use of legacy and donor preference is on the table.

“There’s no birthright to Harvard. As the Supreme Court recently noted, ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ There should be no way to identify who your parents are in the college application process,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, previously said in a statement.