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The Weekender: Admissions Scandal a Moment to Reflect and Recommit to Academic Inclusion (The Atlantic)

March 17, 2019

The recent Justice Department announcement disclosing egregious cases of admissions fraud by some of the nation's financial elite is an opportunity to either cast dispersions or to take a critical look at inclusion in higher education.

 

For myself, how do I improve inclusivity in higher education? How do I limit inclusivity? What biases do I bring to this discussion and how can I learn more about them? I am establishing a new center focused on sustainable business. How do I ensure all students get the same opportunity to participate and benefit from involvement with the center?

 

Penn State has had a long-time commitment to diversity and inclusion. For its part, the Smeal College of Business has been among the leaders in advancing opportunities for first-generation students, low-income students and students of color.  But I know our best efforts fall short and more must be done.

 

Part of the journey must be a good, hard look at the implicit biases in the system which tilt the playing field towards the already advantaged. I have seen with my own eyes the ways that advantaged kids--like my own--are helped along by the kind of invisible forces of privilege Will Stancil discusses in his article "Ignorance Was Bliss for the Children of the College-Admissions Scandal".

"Advantage, after all, is rarely noticed by the advantaged."

His charge that "advantage is, after all, rarely noticed by the advantaged" is a profoundly simple and stubborn truth. I thought his piece in The Atlantic was one of the best on the admissions scandal to spark reflection and not just the throwing of stones. Enjoy.

 

Ignorance Was Bliss for the Children of the College-Admissions Scandal (The Atlantic by Will Stancil, Univeristy of Minnesota Law School)

 

"Advantage, after all, is rarely noticed by the advantaged. People don’t have an easy way to compare their lives with those of others, to see how the same situations might turn out differently if they themselves came from a different background. The first instinct is often to attribute disproportionate success to above-average aptitude, but most successful people know aptitude can’t explain everything that’s gone their way."

 

"In a society stratified from top to bottom by race and wealth, privilege can’t be understood as something held exclusively by the richest 1 percent, or even the richest 10 percent, to the detriment of all others. If they’re propelled to their station by forces out of their sight and beyond their control, so too is everyone else lifted or confined by those same forces."  Full article.

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