Essay on Ethics in Admissions Lacked Any Supporting Evidence

To the Editor:

One of the quotes I use in my classes is “In God we trust, all others bring data.” In reading Dr. Morson and Dr. Schapiro’s article, “Ethics 101 for Admissions Officers” (The Chronicle, July 2), I could not find any evidence to support their speculations. What schools are using such practices? What is the extent of such use? There were not even any examples of single instances of a more qualified student being denied admission when lesser qualified students had been admitted.

These kinds of totally unsupported speculations made by academics are just fuel to the fire to the increasing number of people who are questioning the value of institutions of higher education and the college experience. I imagine many who now see colleges as a threat will see this article as some justification for their position, simply ignoring that it provides absolutely no evidence of the practices it outlines. On the other hand, those who carefully read it could reasonably use it as an example of how liberal academics simply make stuff up without having any solid evidence for their position — as evidence of what truly poor scholarship the institutions that profess to be scholarly actually practice. I would have thought the editors of The Chronicle would have been more demanding than to allow such an article to appear under their banner.

Now, the authors’ speculations may be true, and they may have made some valid points. I am not an admissions officer, so I have no evidence to provide to directly refute their claims, but at least I am willing to admit that I don’t know. From my reading of this article, I can only conclude that the authors also do not know that any of their speculations are indeed occurring.

What a disappointing article. I hope that The Chronicle editors will be more discriminating and demanding in the future, or clearly label such articles as “unsupported speculations” so that at least I won’t waste my time reading them.

Robert K. Henderson
Associate Professor
Math and Statistics Department
Stephen F. Austin State University
Nacogdoches, Tex.

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