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A Push to Make Harvard Free Also Questions the Role of Race in Admissions
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Should Harvard be free?

That is the provocative question posed by an outsider slate of candidates running for the Board of Overseers at Harvard, which helps set strategy for the university. They say Harvard makes so much money from its $37.6 billion endowment that it should stop charging tuition to undergraduates.

But they have tied the notion to another equally provocative question: Does Harvard shortchange Asian-American applicants in admissions?

The slate of five candidates was put together by Ron Unz, a conservative from California and software entrepreneur who sponsored ballots initiatives opposing bilingual education. Although the campaign, “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard,” includes one left-leaning member — the consumer advocate Ralph Nader — Mr. Unz and the other three candidates have written or testified extensively against affirmative action, opposing race-based admissions.

Their positions are in lock step with accusations in a federal lawsuit accusing the university of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions. Harvard has denied the allegations.

 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    Is that an antisemitism trap?

    The Toronto-born Islamophobe Jewish writer, author and former speechwriter for Dubya Bush, David Frum, admitted in an article published in pro-Israel Jewish magazine The Beast on February 13, 2013 that Jewish students are overrepresented in the Ivy League institutions.

    Hillel, a leading pro-Israel international Jewish campus advocacy group’s 2009 data indicated that Jewish students at Harvard, Brown, Columbia and Penn made up 25 percent of respective undergraduate populations, and at Yale and Cornell, the number was 22 percent. The lowest Jewish enrolment was found at Princeton (13%) and Dartmouth (11 %). Rabbi Julie Roth, the executive director of the Center for Jewish Life (CJL) has been leading a campaign to see the percentage jump to 20% at Princeton and Dartmouth.

    On May 3, 2013, The Bilzerian Report, said: “Contrary to popular opinion, the most important criteria for admission to the Ivy League is not grades, nor SAT, nor recommendations, or even essays. The most important criteria is actually race/religion. By claiming to be Jewish, an applicant can increase his chances of admission by up to 15 fold“.

    A survey taken two years ago showed that most of administrators in the Ivy League were Jewish. They’re accepting Jewish students at a ridiculously overrepresented rate. In addition to that, about 80% of senior officials in the Ivy League are Jewish or married to Jews. This has resulted in Jews taking 12-35% of places…..

    http://rehmat1.com/2013/05/05/how-jewish-is-the-ivy-league/

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Anonymo1
  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What’s the best way for a Harvard alum to contact Mr. Unz to indicate support of his slate for the Harvard University of Overseers?

    Please post that information in reply to this comment.

    • Replies: @res
    , @Anonymous
  3. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The rich get richer. Making Harvard free would privilege people who are already generally very privileged and who also stand to make a lot of money when they graduate. Harvard should find another way to deal with its wealth. Perhaps it should give its excess money to other universities so that that there can be more top-notch university options for American students or more financial aid for Anerican students at other universities.

  4. @Rehmat

    Our great universities weren’t lost to others until mandatory chapel attendance was discontinued. Bringing it back would not only discourage Jews from enrolling, but Moslems as well. Two birds with one stone!

    • Replies: @Rehmat
    , @Karl
  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Harvard already is free for all practical purposes with its needs based financial aid grants.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @res
    , @Alec Leamas
  6. Anon7 says:

    I thought that the main purpose of Harvard University was to provide a place for the rich kids who were born on third base to all meet each other – and to meet the brainiest, best-of-the-best kids who were struggling to get to first base. After graduation, the first-base kids would then work for the rich third-base kids, as they took over their wealthy family businesses. Or the first-base kids would start new businesses, financed by the wealthy third-base kids’ families, expanding their already vast fortunes.

    Aren’t most Harvard alums the sons and daughters of Harvard alums? And don’t forget the very rich who buy their way in (in itself a form of self-selection)? Where do you think that $37 billion endowment came from?

    The fact that Harvard is an excellent educational institution just reflects the fact that rich white people still know how to get what they pay for. For their kids. If the rest of you poor schmucks want that level of excellence, why don’t you work for it and make it happen?

  7. Rehmat says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    If you promise not to call me a “towelhead”, could you please which US university is flooded with Muslim students considering American Muslims make the largest religious community after Christians?

    Here is a hint – Professor Kaukab Siddiqui (Lincoln University, Pennsylvania) who defended the “disgraced” comedian Bill Cosby by saying Cosby didn’t do worse than his fellow Americans.

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/09/09/us-muslim-academic-defends-cosby-irks-jewish-lobby/

    • Replies: @Maj. Kong
  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    “Harvard already is free for all practical purposes with its needs based financial aid grants”

    Absolutely. Harvard really ought apply itself to finding a way a more creative and productive way to use its wealth, preferably one that will benefit the overall American economy and not not just Harvard alums and their families at the top of it. Maybe they could use their money to create businesses with the intention of creating more jobs for Americans, instead of focusing on making the founders of such businesses extremely rich. Is Harvard and its alums up for the challenge? Probably not. They seem to want to have a monopoly on wealth, success, and moral pretending in America.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Jeff77450
  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    That should have been “Are Harvard and its alums up for … “, not “Is Harvard and its alums up for … “

  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    That should have been “preening”, not “pretending” (IPad autocorrect).

  11. res says:
    @Anonymous

    Harvard already is free for all practical purposes with its needs based financial aid grants.

    One thing I think gets neglected in the “free Harvard” conversation is the role of price in brand management. Making something free tends to diminish perception of its value while having a high list price (even if few actually pay it) tends to do the opposite. I would argue especially here since the most successful pay the highest price and find it worthwhile. Contrast that with other cases where the best informed/connected get the best deals.

    Some articles on this: http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/brand-value-pricing

    I suspect Harvard being expensive (with breaks for low incomes) is actually best for Harvard and not that terrible for its students overall. IMHO the real travesty is that lower tier colleges (apparently all the way down!) are also priced as luxury goods.

    I think Apple pricing provides a good example of this. Think about how Android pricing trends differ from lower tier college pricing trends (both relative to the leaders).

    Some more articles discussing colleges as brands:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2014/08/21/higher-ed-luxury
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/education/edlife/how-to-raise-a-universitys-profile-pricing-and-packaging.html

    I wonder if the free is there more for its own value or to increase the palatability of fair.

    P.S. It would be helpful to have better data for how much lower income students actually pay (both cash and debt). In my experience folks getting big breaks still feel like they are spending heavily. Paying other expenses and keeping up with the Jones IV’s probably contribute to this.

    • Replies: @Will
  12. Jeff77450 says:
    @Anonymous

    I’m reasonably sure that that $37.6-billion isn’t in the form of “cash stuffed in a mattress” where it isn’t doing society or the economy any good. It’s in various investments that create economic-activity which creates jobs which creates tax-payers, a certain number of whom are lifted out of poverty.

    Exact same situation with “rich” people’s money. This is what the confiscatory “tax the rich” crowd doesn’t understand.

    • Replies: @bach
    , @Alec Leamas
  13. Darwin says:

    For Ron Unz,

    I am a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and would be happy to sign your petition for or otherwise support your slate running for the Board of Overseers.

    Dan Grossman
    [email protected]

  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    Email him with your postal mail address: [email protected]

    If you have other friends you can recruit let him know.

  15. Benjaminl says:

    Steve Hsu says:

    If you are a Harvard degree holder (including from the graduate and professional schools), you can sign the petition for us to get on the ballot. Please contact Ron [ [email protected] ] directly if you are willing to do so. Even better, you can help us recruit your fellow Harvard alums to sign.

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2016/01/free-harvard-fair-harvard.html

  16. @Anonymous

    Not really. Need based financial aid (no merit scholarships) coupled with a high sticker price just allows Harvard and similar schools to exclude the bright children of the middle class (white non-Jews). The wealthy can write checks for tuition without discomfort. The AA and diversity admits go for free. The middle tends to have illiquid assets (home, 401K) and enough income that a hefty “expected contribution” is calculated and a menu of financially draining loan products and the like presented to it. If a middle class family has multiple college-bound children, it is a near impossible feat.

    I don’t think this is a mistake or oversight. The makeup of the institutions then looks like the Leftist’s wet dream – the remnants of the deposed/displaced WASP aristocracy who nevertheless still have wealth and contacts (all four of Al Gore’s kids seriatim), a healthy overdose of children of Jewish professionals, and the melanin-rich tokens of the “underprivileged” (cf. Barack Soetero/Obama). Harvard is a hedge fund with a networking country club cum indoctrination camp attached. The new thoroughly Leftwing aristocracy/technocracy is then forged by mixing the three groups and loosing them on Wall Street, the legal profession, government internships, etc.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  17. ” a federal lawsuit accusing the university of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions. Harvard has denied the allegations.”

    ….disparate impact ?

    Should they have any concessions for minorities if it’s free ?

    Is “affirmative action” to let in the dumb kids (who won’t succeed there anyway) or
    to help the kids that just can’t afford the tuition ?

  18. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Alec Leamas

    “Not really. Need based financial aid (no merit scholarships) coupled with a high sticker price just allows Harvard and similar schools to exclude the bright children of the middle class (white non-Jews). The wealthy can write checks for tuition without discomfort. The AA and diversity admits go for free. The middle tends to have illiquid assets (home, 401K) and enough income that a hefty “expected contribution” is calculated and a menu of financially draining loan products and the like presented to it. If a middle class family has multiple college-bound children, it is a near impossible feat.”

    According to a 2011 article, beginning in 2012 (and perhaps it’s still the same), Harvard’s financial aid was such that families with incomes up to $65,000 pay nothing toward the cost of their child’s attendance at Harvard, families with incomes above 65,000 and up to $150,000 pay up to 10% of their income, and beginning in 2016 families with incomes between $150,000 and $180,000 will pay slightly more than 10% of their income.

  19. Maj. Kong says:
    @Rehmat

    Many Saudi students are in this country, there were several dozen at my alma mater a few years back.

  20. Will says:
    @res

    IMHO the real travesty is that lower tier colleges … are also priced as luxury goods.

    You’re tellin me.

    #99 Drexel: $49K
    #93 Bennington: $48K
    #2 Harvard: $45K
    #1 Princeton: $43K

  21. Anonymo1 says:
    @Rehmat

    From Greg Cochran on Unz: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/hamilton-rules-ok/#comment-11885

    As for the Harvard thing, pro-Jewish discrimination in admissions, Ron uses one method to estimate Jewish National Merit Finalist numbers [last name analysis] and another very different method to estimate the actual numbers admitted – quoting Hillel as an authority. It seems that you get a far lower number. if you apply that last-name analysis to Harvard too. And the National Merit threshold varies by state – it is higher in the states where most Jews live, which would depress their numbers of finalists, all else equal.

    Moreover, it surely matters who even bothers to apply to Harvard – but nobody knows that, outside of Harvard. I had pretty high test scores, and got letters from quite a few colleges, including Harvard, but I never applied there, because (among other considerations) I didn’t think much of the place. I still don’t. He also ignores geographical proximity – most Jews live in the Northeast. As I remember, proximity was one of those other considerations for me, since I needed to be able to take my laundry home on on the weekends.

  22. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Alec Leamas

    Harvard may be trying to exclude bright children of the middle class, but they’re not doing it via its need based financial aid grants. If they’re doing so, they’re doing it by not accepting them in the first place. Families with multiple college bound kids get more aid. The vast majority of middle class kids accepted at Harvard choose to attend Harvard or similar schools. Harvard provides more generous financial aid to middle class students than most other private universities do, and Harvard is more affordable for middle class students to attend than most other universities except perhaps some in-state universities, but few middle class students choose state schools over Harvard.

  23. bach says:
    @Jeff77450

    I’m reasonably sure that that $37.6-billion isn’t in the form of “cash stuffed in a mattress” where it isn’t doing society or the economy any good. It’s in various investments that create economic-activity which creates jobs which creates tax-payers, a certain number of whom are lifted out of poverty. Exact same situation with “rich” people’s money. This is what the confiscatory “tax the rich” crowd doesn’t understand.

    True, but under a relatively “hard money” regime.

    In the current very elastic monetary system weighed down by debt on the heels of multiple bubbles, savings do virtually nothing.

    Anyone who is credit-worthy and wants to borrow can get it from the banks, who in turn, get it from the FED, on an as-needed basis. The FED will print as much as you can borrow if there is a banker willing to lend.

    The traditional monetary mechanism of savings –> investments doesn’t apply anymore — not here, not in Japan, nor in the EU.

    So what is Harvard’s $38B doing for the economy? Probably not much of anything except reinforcing higher asset prices and bubbles.

    • Replies: @Jeff77450
  24. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t understand the claim that harvard’s admissions policy discriminates against Asians.

    U.S. census figures for 2014 show that Asians (non-mixed race) make up 5.4% of the U.S. population. Likewise, about 30% Harvard’s Class of 2019 identify as Asian or South Asian.

    If I recall correctly, around the time I was applying to college (1980s), Harvard stopped requiring and I think even looking at, SAT scores from applicants. It was commonly understood – at least among the people I knew, or maybe explicitly stated in Harvard literature – that Harvard had enough extremely qualified applicants that it didn’t need SAT scores to select its future students. I remember it was also understood that Harvard wasn’t just looking for applicants with the highest standardized test scores or grades. Lastly, supposedly Harvard wanted a diverse or well-rounded student population, in terms of academic interests, extracurricular interests and skills, race and ethnicity, and personality types. If any of this is still true today, then I don’t see how Asians have a leg to stand on, with regards to their claims of discrimination. In fact, it would seem that having a student body that is almost 30% Asian threatens any goals Harvard might have for diversity in its student body. Or does Harvard’s desire for diversity in its student body only extend to making sure that a Harvard has a significant number of blacks, Hispanics and other non-Asian minorities in its student body?

    As it is, the number of Asians in Harvard’s student body is lopsided in their favor. Steps to increase their numbers would seem to pose a very real threat to student diversity at Harvard.

    http://features.thecrimson.com/2015/freshman-survey/makeup/

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  25. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    The dominant ideology today that animates Harvard and society in general proclaims to value and pursue diversity and to be against discrimination. But these are mutually exclusive. Having a diverse student body or company or team requires discrimination. Harvard and others who subscribe to this dominant ideology can’t openly admit or confront this fact, however, because the ideology’s claim to moral authority is that it is adamantly opposed to discrimination. If they acknowledge that they engage in discrimination, then they will be exposed as hypocritical and non-discrimination will be revealed not to be a sacrosanct principle. Other institutions and people in general will then ask why they can’t discriminate as they see fit for their own purposes, and that is the last thing the purveyors of the dominant ideology want.

    What Mr. Unz and his fellows seem to be trying to do is to try to force Harvard’s hand and at least get it to openly and clearly admit that it discriminates. Institutions such as Harvard that preach and demand others in society to practice non-discrimination should reveal that they don’t fully subscribe to the morality they promote, in the interests of full-disclosure and honesty.

  26. It would be nice if they ended discrimination against Asians and (especially) non-Jewish whites, but I can’t see that happening. They would need to totally revamp the admissions system and make it much more objective. The result would be an east-Asian majority, possibly an increase in non-Jewish whites, a drop in Jewish whites (per Unz), and a huge drop in NAMs.

    Long term this could threaten Jewish control of the Ivy League system, replaced by east-Asian control. I can’t see that as being very likely.

    • Replies: @Bob Arctor
    , @Karl
  27. @Simon in London

    The result would be an east-Asian majority, possibly an increase in non-Jewish whites, a drop in Jewish whites (per Unz), and a huge drop in NAMs.

    This is doubtful; according to Unz’s research only around 25-30% of the best students in the country are Asian, not anywhere close a majority.

    Under a pure academic meritocracy Gentile whites would, by far, see the largest increase in enrollment at elite colleges.

  28. Karl says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Harvard ==originally== required Hebrew-reading proficiency as a condition of graduation.

    Can we compromise on Mandatory Chapel in Latin?

  29. Karl says:
    @Simon in London

    Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to convince my American co-ethnics to forget about Harvard/Princeton?Yale, and look more at Colorado School of Mines and the like

    I try to sell it as more bang for the buck. They can’t see it, although the numbers are as plain as day.

  30. Jeff77450 says:
    @bach

    You have given me “food for thought.” Many thanx, –Jeff York, writing from Houston, Texas

  31. @Jeff77450

    It’s not “taxing the rich” to levy the existing tax rate on gain from investments – just like in the event that you or I made the same investment. The issue is that educational institutions with truly enormous endowments are growing their endowments at exponential rates because the gain is tax exempt. One major condition of acquiring this status from the IRS is that the institution is supposed to offer its services at a reduced fee or no fee. The proportion of Harvard’s endowment (and annual gain) against its exempt income from tuition and student fees is such that charging any tuition for any program is simply farcical and only serves to exclude meritorious applicants or burden them financially. Put simply, Harvard and other educational institutions are – by the numbers – tax free hedge funds with an ancillary University attached. Certainly you must understand as well the degree to which these elite institutions are beholden to a discrete class of connected persons, alumni, and the like.

    As far as the productive economic activity – does that not apply just as much to the tuition dollars paid and debt undertaken by students? We’re entitled to ask whether and to what degree the public purpose of tax exempt entities is served from time to time and make adjustments when the public purpose is not well served. All the more so when the benefit is seemingly largely restricted to the children of an insular class of connected people.

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