Racial discrimination has always been a bane of modern society. However, it is quite shocking to see prestigious educational institutions in America trying to turn away Jews in the most creative of ways, reveals a new book.
The modern American college admission process has become more intricate and complex than ever before. The reason for this to happen now is quite justifiable; there are thousands more vying for the few coveted seats. But turn back the clock a 100 years and the scenario was quite different, and frankly speaking, much less competitive. Ironically, it was the colleges who were trying to turn down college aspirants of a particular ethnic persuasion.
About a century earlier, the application process was a lot more straightforward: take an entrance exam, get a high enough score, and you were in. Back in the good old days, the competition to win a seat at prestigious colleges didn’t have other extracurricular aspects that had to be factored in. All that mattered in the end was that one test score.
But slowly, institutes like Harvard, Yale, and to some extent, Princeton, started to lay out rules that reeked of antisemitism, says author Jerome Karabel, in his book, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
The book tries to highlight how many of the elite universities of the early part of the 20th century made little effort to hide their strong apprehension about Jewish students who were requesting admission in scores. In fact, Harvard tried to explicitly cap the number of Jewish students admitted each year at 15 percent. Despite the fact that the policy faced a severe backlash, Harvard didn’t back down. Instead, the college instituted regional quotas. Needless to say, the revised policies were meant for a singular reason: bring down the number of Jewish students on the campus.
Yale, on the other hand, deployed subtle tactics to wean out Jews. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish population at Yale was steadily increasing. Concerned about the “trend,” Yale administration initially attempted to curb enrollment by limiting the scholarship money available to Jewish students.
But when such tactics failed to yield the desired results and dissuade Jewish students from getting into Yale, the institute came up with a clever and rather hard-to-prove tactic. Yale decided that mere test scores weren’t the sole criteria, and wanted more than just an excellent admissions exam score to secure entrance to the freshman class.
Yale insisted that would-be freshmen be of a certain “personality and character” consistent with whatever arbitrary requirements the admissions board deemed relevant at the time.
Essentially, the book argues, an entirely new and rather arbitrary new system of admissions was invented. The author claims that using such methods as asking to submit essays with seemingly irrelevant topics, including photos with the application process and conducting personal interviews allowed these colleges to weed out whoever they want, without being questioned.
[Image Credit | Ivy Gate]