A record number of Black students have been accepted to Harvard under early admissions this year, according to admissions officers.
Of the 714 students admitted early this year, 45 or 15.9 percent are Black. This record number marks a significant increase from last year's 28, and may be part of an attempt to address the troubling dearth of Black students in the Harvard community.
Because other schools are luring Black students with large scholarship packages, it is hard to tell how many Black students will actually matriculate at the College.
Last year, even though 168 Black students were admitted, only 95 enrolled in the Class of 1996, the lowest number since 1969.
Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons '67 said the total number of minority students in the past 20 years has greatly increased. He cited the rise in Asian-Americans from 4.8 percent in 1978 to the present 20 percent.
The number of Black students, however, has remained between six and 10 percent in the same 20-year period, Fitzsimmons said.
"There have not been the same dramatic increase in African-Americans as seen in Asians," Fitzsimmons said.
Black Students Assocation Vice President Alvin L. Bragg '95 said he is excited by the high number of Black early admits this year, and would like to see them matriculate.
"The overriding concern is money," Bragg said.He said a number of Black prospective first-yearshe talked to are waiting to see how much financialaid other schools offer them before making theirfinal decision.
"For many Black candidates, this is a difficultdecision to make, when other colleges out thereare offering free four-year rides," Bragg said.
"African-Americans are among the most highlysought-after [students]," said Fitzsimmons. "Manycolleges give financial aid and make offers [toBlack students] not based on need."
Harvard's policy in financial aid isneed-based, and does not offer any targetedpackages for minority students, as schools likeDuke do.
"It has never been our position to have quotasor goals," said Director of Admissions MarlynMcGrath Lewis. She said the admissions office doesnot consciously seek to increase the number ofBlack students at Harvard.
"We have focused on recruiting the ableststudents, the strongest people we can get, andhope to get a diverse group," Lewis said.
President Neil L. Rudenstine expressed concernlast September at the dearth of Black students inthe Class of 1996 and suggested that moreaggressive measures including merit-based,minority scholarships may be needed to boostmatriculation rates