Program in Quantitative Social Science (QSS) faculty members John Carey and Yusaku Horiuchi and QSS pre-doctoral fellow Katie Clayton gave a presentation on September 27, 2018, at a Harvard University seminar series called Universities: Past, Present, and Future. This series is sponsored by Mahindra Humanities Center, and the Carey, Clayton, and Horiuchi presentation was based on a book manuscript, "The Hidden Consensus on Campus Diversity
,” that these scholars have prepared.
A summary of the talk is as follows:
Campus diversity is central to national debates over racial, ethnic, and gender equality, affirmative action, and political correctness. Discussions of diversity tend to focus on instances of conflict such as court cases and protests where participants are polarized. But what do students more broadly think about diversity? To answer this question, we use a novel survey technique to elicit honest opinions among students at seven major universities. We measure their preferences for emphasizing demographic diversity in decisions about which applicants to admit and which faculty candidates to hire. The results show preferences in favor of members of traditionally underrepresented groups — for racial/ethnic minorities, for women and gender non-binary individuals, and for applicants from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. These preferences tend to be stronger among members of traditionally underrepresented groups than, for example, among whites and men. Importantly, however, the level of consensus we find is far more encompassing than the differences across groups. Critically, we find almost no polarization of preferences between any groups. The central message is that overall, students show broad support for diversity in practice. Campus communities are less deeply divided than they are often portrayed.