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Randomization Study Confirms Stereotypes

But Report Says House Character Will Change

By Jal D. Mehta

A report on randomization authored by two students confirms many common house stereotypes, but also shows that randomization will likely change those perceptions.

The report, compiled by Nienke C. Grossman '99 and Mark F. Veblen '99 as their final project for Statistics 100, gives a breakdown of the student body by race and concentration in each of the 12 houses and for the incoming sophomores.

The study comes four months after Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 said he would not release figures concerning race or concentration until the houses became fully random in the fall of 1998, saying that to do so would simply confirm stereotypes.

Grossman and Veblen researched their project by examining facebooks and assigning students to three racial categories: white, black and Asian American. The study divides concentrators into three categories: social sciences, humanities and hard sciences.

Numbers compiled by The Crimson based on the report show that the "white triangle houses," Eliot, Winthrop and Kirkland, are 4.8 percent black, while the Quad Houses, Cabot, Currier and Pforzheimer, are 24.6 percent black.

Mather House, the site of several racist incidents last year, has the highest percentage of white students with 78.9 percent.

The study also showed that the racial compositions of the houses will likely change rapidly.

In Cabot House, only 4.1 percent of the rising sophomores are black, and in Pforzheimer House only 3.7 percent of the incoming students are black.

Quincy House, long thought of as a studious, pre-med house, had the highest percentage of hard science concentrators (44.8) as well as the highest percentage of Asians by far (39.3).

Sixty-three percent of Mather House students are social science concentrators, outdistancing second place Winthrop House by nearly 20 percent.

Lewis refused to confirm or deny the figures provided by the students.

Students leaders yesterday rejoiced in the publication of the study, which they said finally put the administration and the students on equal footing in terms of knowledge about randomization.

"I think the administration should have released these figures a long time ago," said Marco B. Simons '97, a member of the Committee on House Life. "[Without publication] it just allows the administration to make whatever decisions they wanted based on superior knowledge."

While some have questioned the Racial Balance in the Houses Amelia E. Morrow Crimson   Upperclass Students  Class of 1999 House  White  Black  Asian  White  Black  Asian Adams  60.1%  13.8%  26.1%  69.3%  13.2%  17.5% Cabot  47.2  31.7  21.1  74.0  4.1  22.0 Currier  54.9  18.3  26.8  65.3  13.9  20.8 Dunster  66.1  8.2  25.7  57.5  20.7  21.8 Eliot  76.7  2.8  20.6  66.7  10.8  22.5 Kirkland  72.6  8.9  18.5  62.7  22.4  14.9 Leverett  67.8  9.0  23.1  73.0  12.0  15.0 Lowell  69.3  9.1  21.6  70.3  6.9  22.8 Mather  78.9  4.8  16.3  69.5  5.5  25.0 Pforzheimer  43.5  23.8  32.7  55.6  3.7  40.7 Quincy  53.4  7.3  39.3  78.0  5.5  16.5 Winthrop  72.8  3.0  24.3  73.3  2.2  24.4 Quad  48.5  24.6  26.9  66.2  7.2  26.6 Aggregate  64.1  10.9  25.1  68.7  9.5  21.8 Data from report by Nienke Grossman and Mark Veblen.

accuracy of the researchers methodology, teaching fellow Emily Mechner fully supports the validity of Grossman and Veblen's conclusions.

"I found their research a very competent piece of work," Mechner said. "While there is some error in measurement, unless there is some systematic bias, it shouldn't matter too much."

House leaders praised the new system of randomization as a way to create a microcosm of the university.

"My general view is that students used the system of ordered choice against its original intentions by flocking to the houses," said former Cabot Master Jurij Striedter.

Black student leaders said they thought the new era marked a loss of a social center for blacks, but said that the problems facing minority students remained unchanged.

"The Quad previously served as a center of minority social activity, but still was never a place where you found a majority of black students," said Black Students Association President Derek N. Ashong '97.

"Any black student is aware that by entering Harvard, he or she has chosen a majority white environment," Ashong said.

Pforzheimer House race relations tutor Elizabeth Guzenar said the new figures confirmed her worst fears of the marginalization of minority students in the eyes of the administration.

"I hope that they are committed to reviewing [randomization] and the needs of minority students," Guzenar said. "We all want to pretend that race doesn't matter, but it does. It matters to all students."

But other house leaders said that the study, while accurate, did not persuade them that the houses are the proper spot for ethnic grouping.

"I don't think the residence halls are the place to wage that issue, there are a variety of other outlets for that," said Cabot House race relations tutor Thomas H. Lee '91

accuracy of the researchers methodology, teaching fellow Emily Mechner fully supports the validity of Grossman and Veblen's conclusions.

"I found their research a very competent piece of work," Mechner said. "While there is some error in measurement, unless there is some systematic bias, it shouldn't matter too much."

House leaders praised the new system of randomization as a way to create a microcosm of the university.

"My general view is that students used the system of ordered choice against its original intentions by flocking to the houses," said former Cabot Master Jurij Striedter.

Black student leaders said they thought the new era marked a loss of a social center for blacks, but said that the problems facing minority students remained unchanged.

"The Quad previously served as a center of minority social activity, but still was never a place where you found a majority of black students," said Black Students Association President Derek N. Ashong '97.

"Any black student is aware that by entering Harvard, he or she has chosen a majority white environment," Ashong said.

Pforzheimer House race relations tutor Elizabeth Guzenar said the new figures confirmed her worst fears of the marginalization of minority students in the eyes of the administration.

"I hope that they are committed to reviewing [randomization] and the needs of minority students," Guzenar said. "We all want to pretend that race doesn't matter, but it does. It matters to all students."

But other house leaders said that the study, while accurate, did not persuade them that the houses are the proper spot for ethnic grouping.

"I don't think the residence halls are the place to wage that issue, there are a variety of other outlets for that," said Cabot House race relations tutor Thomas H. Lee '91

"I found their research a very competent piece of work," Mechner said. "While there is some error in measurement, unless there is some systematic bias, it shouldn't matter too much."

House leaders praised the new system of randomization as a way to create a microcosm of the university.

"My general view is that students used the system of ordered choice against its original intentions by flocking to the houses," said former Cabot Master Jurij Striedter.

Black student leaders said they thought the new era marked a loss of a social center for blacks, but said that the problems facing minority students remained unchanged.

"The Quad previously served as a center of minority social activity, but still was never a place where you found a majority of black students," said Black Students Association President Derek N. Ashong '97.

"Any black student is aware that by entering Harvard, he or she has chosen a majority white environment," Ashong said.

Pforzheimer House race relations tutor Elizabeth Guzenar said the new figures confirmed her worst fears of the marginalization of minority students in the eyes of the administration.

"I hope that they are committed to reviewing [randomization] and the needs of minority students," Guzenar said. "We all want to pretend that race doesn't matter, but it does. It matters to all students."

But other house leaders said that the study, while accurate, did not persuade them that the houses are the proper spot for ethnic grouping.

"I don't think the residence halls are the place to wage that issue, there are a variety of other outlets for that," said Cabot House race relations tutor Thomas H. Lee '91

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