College of Charleston Drops, Then Reinstates, a “Second Look” for Applicants of Color

In 2016, the admissions office at the College of Charleston in South Carolina discontinued the practice of conducting an additional review of applications from students of color who were not initially recommended for admission. This “second look” was designed to give additional consideration to applicants who were underrepresented in the college’s student body. No public announcement was made of the decision to discontinue the additional review.

Recently, when it was revealed that the college had discontinued the practice, interim president Stephen C. Osborne reinstituted the additional application review for students of color who are initially rejected for admission. In a statement, President Osborne explained that “there was no secretive effort to change the College’s policies by past administrations. And there was certainly no effort to reduce the College’s commitment to promoting diversity on campus.”

President Osborne did admit that “the admissions office discontinued the practice after the summer of 2016 due to the positive results of various recruitment initiatives for students of color.”

However, it should be noted that according to the latest data on file at the U.S. Department of Education, there are nearly 10,000 undergraduate students at the state-operated educational institution. African Americans are 8 percent of the student body. Blacks make up 27.3 percent of the population in South Carolina, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In his statement, President Osborne said “I have advised the admissions team, effective immediately, to implement an additional application review of students of color and to make it abundantly clear that, as an institution, we do and will consider race as a factor in our holistic review process. While we are pleased that our overall numbers of students of color are improving, frankly we have not moved the needle enough regarding our African-American student enrollment.”

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