Brown University creates a new committee to re-examine its admission policy

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Brown University is following several other schools nationwide, taking a look at its admission policy after the end of affirmative action. 

A letter was sent out to Brown University students earlier this week, which said the college put together a committee that will look into three things when it comes to admissions: early decision, standardized testing, and legacy admissions.

The university has taken a look at each of those policies at various points in the past few years, and students at Brown said it has become more important than ever following the Supreme Court decision in June to end Affirmative Action.

“I think it’s a great step that they’re at least looking at it,” Junior Stewart Morris said. “I think they should have been doing stuff differently for many, many years. Affirmative Action was only a step in the right direction, but I still think brown could be doing a lot more to reaching out to students who don’t normally go to college or consider colleges like Brown.”

The committee is made up of Brown faculty and alumni and will look at a previous test-optional policy the university had implemented.

It will also take a deeper look into admissions and outcome data for legacy students.

“I do think that there absolutely needs to be a conversation about legacy admission and athlete admission and the ways that a lot of people are granted access to this campus just based on things such as parents coming here or maybe they’re really good athletes,” first generation student and Senior Delaney Dill said. “And I think it needs to all be looked at more holistically.”

While the plan is still in its earliest stages, the University hopes to have a recommendation from the committee before the spring 2024 semester, an effort that local advocates are applauding.

“Affirmative Action is something that has been around for decades, and which generations of students have benefited from, and now, you don’t have it.” Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC President Harrison Tuttle said. “And not only do you not have it, you don’t have an infrastructure to replace such a key initiative. And so, I think Brown is doing this smart, I think they’re creating their committee, and we’ll just all wait for their decision.”

The full letter from Brown President Christina Paxson can be found below:

Dear Members of the Brown Community,Brown has a strong track record for national leadership in demonstrating a commitment to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive campus community, and we have taken seriously our commitment to demonstrating this in the way we build a student body that is diverse by many measures.Over the course of several years, the University has continually examined its admissions policies and processes, particularly as various national conversations have prompted debate around issues of admissions integrity and access. Concerns about the use of various preferences in admissions have been growing over time but have become amplified in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down race-conscious admissions. There is intense interest among policymakers, the public at large, and our own students and alumni in ensuring that admissions practices are as fair and equitable as possible.I write to share that I have charged an Ad Hoc Committee on Admissions Policies to evaluate Brown‘s undergraduate admissions policies and practices to ensure they advance the University‘s mission and values. I have charged the committee to do the following:

  • Review data on applicants admitted through the early decision and regular admissions cycles, and make a recommendation on whether Brown should alter its current policy on early decision.
  • Assess the impact of standardized test score requirements on the applicant pool, the composition of the student body and successful student outcomes, and make a recommendation on whether Brown should continue to be “test optional.”
  • Evaluate admissions data on students with family connections to Brown, and make a recommendation on whether preferences for such applicants should be modified.

The committee may choose to make additional recommendations that are consistent with Brown’s commitments and support our educational mission. At Brown, we know that all of these issues are much more complex than is commonly represented in the national discourse. Each of these policies and practices also affects many in our community in different — and often personal — ways, and discussions of these topics will reflect varying perspectives and points of view.As stated in the charge, this is an important moment for Brown to assess its admissions policies to ensure the University is fully realizing its educational mission and upholding its commitments to academic excellence, equity, access and diversity. The full charge is posted on the Office of the President website.The committee is being asked to make its recommendations to the president and the Corporation of Brown University — as the University’s highest governing body — before the start of the Spring 2024 semester. This will ensure that any decisions that would affect admissions practices will be made in advance of next year’s admissions cycle.The committee will be co-chaired by the provost and a member of the Corporation. The full committee membership is as follows:

  • Francis J. Doyle III, Provost (co-chair)
  • Preetha Basaviah ’91 MD ’95, Brown University Trustee (co-chair)
  • John Friedman, Briger Family Distinguished Professor of Economics
  • Earl E. Hunt II ’03, Brown University Trustee
  • Carlos Lejnieks ’00, Brown University Trustee and Past President of the Brown Alumni Association
  • Kimberly Mowry, Robin Chemers Neustein Professor of Biomedicine
  • Alison Ressler ’80, Brown University Fellow
  • Noliwe Rooks, L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Africana Studies
  • Bjorn Sandstede, Alumni-Alumnae University Professor of Applied Mathematics
  • William Zhou ’20, Brown University Trustee and former president of the Undergraduate Council of Students

The committee will be staffed by Elizabeth Doherty, Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs.I want to thank the committee in advance for devoting time to this complex work. Brown remains firmly committed to admitting and educating students who can thrive and go on to fulfill their greatest potential, both as students and in their lives after Brown.Sincerely,Christina H. PaxsonPresident

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