Affirmative Action for Men?

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, one of the original Seven Sisters schools, decided to go co-educational in 1970. Since that time, the college has struggled to achieve a student body that is balanced between men and women.

Due in part to its history as a women’s college, only about one third of all applicants to the institution are men. Other factors are also involved, including the fact there is no football program and no engineering curriculum which tends to attract male applicants.

Critics have charged that women are being discriminated against in the admissions process because the acceptance rate for male applicants at Vassar is higher than the acceptance rate for women. The critics charge that highly qualified women are being rejected for admission in favor of less qualified men. But David Borus, director of admissions and financial aid at Vassar, states that this is not the case. Recently, he told the student newspaper on campus that, “Today we have about 2,500 men applying each year, and we’re looking to enroll 300 to 330. So there are lots of great candidates in the applicant pool. All the students we admit have to have valid academic credentials. Our admitted men and our admitted women are equally well qualified academically.”

There are signs that Vassar is making progress in creating a more balanced student body. For the Class of 2015 that entered this fall, men make up 45 percent of the students. (See the WIAReport rankings on the percentage of women in the entering class for all the top liberal arts colleges.)


Filed Under: EnrollmentsGender Gap


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