A new study of racial segregation in American colleges (covering only black and white students) shows that progress has been made in the past 40 years (one should hope so), but also that higher learning is far from integrated. Is that a problem? Depends on your perspective.
Inside Higher Ed reports on the study by a Georgetown University professor, which is interesting, but without a clear "Aha!" data hook to make everyone stand up and pay attention. The key findings:
- "[In] 1968, the typical white student attended a college that was 2.3 percent black. But by 2009, the typical white student attended a college that was 9.8 percent black. This percentage gain is much larger than overall black enrollment during this period, which also rose, from 5.5 percent to 13.7 percent." That would seem to indicate that black students are not evenly distributed among all schools (duh).
- A measure of "dissimilarity" in enrollment indicates that, indeed, black and white students still enroll in different schools, to a notable extent. This can partly be explained by the existence of HBCU's (which can themselves be explained by the entire history of racial discrimination in America). And, perhaps more important: "most students (of all races) attend colleges and universities near where they live. Since the black population is not evenly distributed in the United States, there are likely to be regions where colleges have relatively low black enrollments." Segregation in society leads to segregation in higher education.
- There is, surprisingly, some evidence that states that banned affirmative action in college admissions subsequently saw an increase in measure of integration, due, Prof. Peter Hinrichs says, to a redistribution of black enrollment after the bans. The full implications of this, I do not know.