The Alumni Council’s Admissions Agenda

The Alumni Council’s Enrollment and Admissions Committee is considering new rules to “diversify” alumni interviewers, and the committee’s members found little fault with Dean Karl Furstenberg’s letter condemning the football team, according to an e-mail from the committee’s chairman.

The e-mail, from Stuart Bratesman ’75, suggests the committee may pressure regional directors to include more members of the College’s official minority alumni groups on interviewing teams.

A concerned District Enrollment Director passed on this e-mail to The Dartmouth Review. Emphasis added.

Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 14:38:44 -0400
From: [Stuart Bratesman ’75]
To: [Repressed]
Subject: Re: May Alumni Council Admissions meeting

Kiyoe:!

Thank you for your email.

Krysia and I have just been exchanging notes about the agenda for our Admissions and Enrollment Committee meeting. Please let me know if you have your own thoughts or suggestions about what we’re proposing:

1. Election of the new Committee Chair and Vice Chair
(I presume that Krysia’s elevation from vice-chair to chair will be a mere formality.

The vice-chair’s position is open to any current first-year member of the Committee. The member who is elected will serve as vice-chair throughout his or her second year on the Council, and then serve as Chair during the third year. It is the responsibility of the vice-chair to write up a meeting summary to submit to Patsy Fisher, and to give a brief oral summary to the rest of the Council during the early Saturday morning session.)

2. Karl’s report on the latest admissions results

3. A comparison of acceptance rates for applicants who had an alumni interview to applicants who did not, and a discussion of how alumni ratings of applicants figure into the decision process.
(Krysia recalls that you gave us a summary of this last year. I agree with her suggestion that it would be useful to make it a regular annual report for the May Council meeting. What would be really fascinating would be to see the acceptance rates associated with applicants at each level of the alumni interview rating scale. I.e., the percentage of applicants rated exceptional who got accepted, and so on through the lower ratings.)

4. A very brief review of the football letter.
(The members of the committee had a fairly active email exchange when the letter was first disclosed and the consensus was that the issue wasn’t really important enough to merit our formal action. Everyone who did respond supported Karl with opinions ranging from, “the letter was a mistake, but I support him,” all the way to, “the letter was great, but it didn’t go far enough.”)

5. A discussion of Ivy League recruiting rules.
(This issue has come up in the Athletics Committee, and I think it would be good for our group to have a clearer understanding of how the rules work and whether Dartmouth should lobby to have them changed. My understanding is that the League has established a set of four-or-five Academic Index bands based on a numeric rating system that incorporates SAT scores and high-school class rank. The minimum AI score for each of the bands is the same across all Ivy League schools, but the numb! er of football recruits needing to qualify for the top academic band, second-highest band, and so on, varies from school-to-school depending upon the overall academic index score for the entire student body. Teams from schools with higher overall Academic Indices are allowed fewer recruits from the lower bands and are required to have a proportion of their recruits meet the minimum scores for the higher bands. * or something like that. I admit to still feeling confused. In any event, I think there are some alumni who feel that Dartmouth is treated unfairly by the rules, to the extent that our incoming first-years classes are getting increasingly “smarter” compared to other Ivies, and that means that some miraculously talented football player we could have recruited a few years ago couldn’t make it into Dartmouth today, while some other Ivy with a lower overall AI could still recruit him. Other alumni wonder why the Ivy League should tolerate any system that consistently results in Ivy League football players having an average SAT score in the neighborhood of a full standard deviation below that of the rest of their male classmates. They believe that the academic profile of the football team should be statistically indistinguishable from the academic profile of the entire school.)

6. A discussion of efforts to increase diversity among alumni interviewers.
(I have been terrible in letting this get very dormant in past months. There are a number of Councilors who belong to various Affiliated Alumni organizations who are eager to be involved, along with Nels Armstrong and other people from Blunt Hall. [I am wondering if we should keep this as an informal collaborative effort between members of the Admissions Committee and representatives from the different Affiliated Alumni organizations, or as the Council to create a more formal body.] Our current general idea is to approach the problem at two ends:

A. The committee sends a letter to every DED to explain the problem and ask for his or her participation in reaching out to alumni of color and to gay and lesbian alumni to invite and make them feel welcome to participate in alumni interviewing and other local admissions-related activities. To that end, Nels, and most of the Affiliated Alumni groups seem likely to approve of the concept of sending each DED a contact list of every identified affiliated alumni member in his or her region. DEDs would be invited to contact all the persons on the list. One point we would want to make clear in the letter to DEDs! , and in any other communication we send them, is that we want to avoid a situation where Asian alumni interview Asian applicants, and African-American alumni interview African American applicants, and so on.

B. Each Affiliated Alumni organization sends all of their members a message to encourage them to contact their local DED, and volunteer to participate in interviewing and other local recruiting activities. The message would stress that the process is very open and that Dartmouth warmly welcomes their participation. The message would also tell them how to contact their local DED.

Issues:

– Will some DEDs feel like this is asking them to take on too much work? Would Alumni Affairs or the Admission Office be willing to foot the bill to allow each DED to compose a letter, and then print and mail the letter to the! alums on the DED’s behalf? Would email be an effective low-cost alternative? I propose that the messages going out from the affiliated organizations not make any promise that “the DED for your local region will be contacting you shortly.”

– What happens when an affiliated alum in region Y contacts his or her local DED and the Region Y DED turns them down? How likely is it that that might happen? Is it conceivable that there are any DEDs with a non-diverse group of interviewers, who, none-the-less already have so many volunteers lined up that they would feel like they couldn’t handle any more? What happens if we have one or more DEDs who end up reject a minority or gay-and-lesbian volunteer for reasons of prejudice? How do we prepare ourselves to detect and respond to that kind of situation?

That ought to give us plenty to talk about on Friday morning.

I am sending a copy of this email to all the members of the Committee so they can let us know if there are changes they would suggest, or any other issues they will want to add to the list.

We look forward to seeing you and Karl in Hanover!

* Stuart Bratesman ’75