A brave new world has come upon Columbia University. The current crop of freshmen students on its Morningside Heights campus is practically devoid of the kind of people who founded, built, and sustained New York City’s august Ivy League institution: straight white men.
The proportion of white male students in higher education has declined since the mid-20th century for several reasons, including schools going “co-ed,” demographic changes to the American population, and particularly affirmative action. Affirmative action and these other trends are nothing new. However, its newfound intensity since 2020’s “Racial Reckoning,” and how this has decimated the presence of straight white men at elite colleges like Columbia, is almost unbelievable.
Columbia’s Undergraduate Admissions board allegedly underwent a substantial reorganization amid this “Racial Reckoning” and pandemic-related retirements of much of its senior staff. Their replacements were selected to increase the board’s diversity, particularly its representation of racial and sexual minorities.
At the same time, Columbia (along with most American universities) suspended its standardized testing requirement, ostensibly due to the pandemic. This gave admissions personnel far more leeway to admit students based on “diversity” criteria rather than their intellectual aptitude or record of academic performance. In fact, Columbia announced last week that it would permanently suspend the standardized testing requirement for prospective students. The present situation seems unlikely to change any time soon.
First-hand experience suggests that this new board has employed amorphous “holistic admissions” policies to radically restructure the makeup of Columbia’s undergraduate student population in pursuit of diversity and social justice, starting with the Class of 2026. When admissions decisions were released last March, the accompanying announcement also promised a full report on the enrolled class’ academic and demographic statistics “at the end of the summer” in 2022. Columbia Admissions never published this full report as it had in years past and never even indicated why. The silence and deviation from conventional operating procedure raise a multitude of questions. Namely, is there something in the more granular data that Columbia Admissions wants to hide?
Though I am not a freshman myself, I know many. I have spoken with several of them about this issue and observed the reality myself: the number of straight white men in the Class of 2026 not admitted through legacy preference, athletic recruitment, or by claiming “Latinx” identity is pitifully small. In the words of one of them, “You could probably fit all of them together into a small classroom, and there are certainly no more than a hundred.”
For reference, roughly 1,500 freshmen study at Columbia’s College and School of Engineering. Non-legacy, non-athlete straight white men seemingly comprise no more than 7% of them, from what I've gathered. Similar to fellow College Dissident writer Daniel Schmidt’s takeaway from the University of Chicago, almost no members of this tiny group would qualify as “middle class.” They primarily hail from the echelons of America and Europe’s upper classes, along with a few poorer students from rural states to fulfill economic and geographic diversity. I myself am a straight white male who benefited from legacy preference.
While the number of white male freshmen on campus is already shockingly low (likely around 18% total), what is perhaps even more shocking is how gay they are, to be blunt. Easily over half are some form of homosexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, etc. Gen Z may be the gayest generation in history, but only around 10% of men our age identify as LGBTQ. While they may be over-represented among the highly intelligent and Columbia applicants, an organic five-fold over-representation seems hard to believe.
Most likely, the university’s newly diversified admissions board is disproportionately filling those ever so scarce white male admissions spots with gay men as a form of “social justice.” There are several ways by which admissions personnel could deduce sexual orientation, including but not limited to personal essays and statements and high school student group membership.
There are a few reasons Columbia’s Undergraduate Admissions Board and the institution as a whole may seek to disenfranchise otherwise-qualified straight white men from attendance. For one, the university and its leadership have bought wholesale into the lie that the United States is a systemically racist country and that they must rectify this historical ill. Following George Floyd’s death in 2020, Columbia President Lee Bollinger doubled down on the university’s “commitment to addressing and providing remedies to the deep injustices surrounding racism” and called for a “New Civil Rights Movement” to address racial inequality.
Throughout his career, Bollinger has been arguably America’s most ardent defender of affirmative action, writing an op-ed in The Atlantic last October arguing that the end of it would be a “disaster.” Columbia’s administrators know that graduates from their institution will not only enjoy stable, successful lives but go on to lead our nation. By tinkering with the composition of their undergraduate student body, they seek to artificially reshape the identity of America’s future ruling class and the kind of country the elite will pursue. Replacing straight white men with students of a different sexual orientation, race, or gender is a way to “right historical wrongs” under this logic and praxis against a white supremacist system.
Another reason is likely political in nature. While Gen Z is extremely liberal and overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, its contingent of straight white men is still quite balanced. Columbia and other Ivy League institutions are critical nodes in America’s hegemonic liberal power structure. Their administrators know that by unjustly excluding straight white men from admission, they not only hurt the prospects for this particular group but the prospects for conservatism as a force within American power and culture.
Straight white men represent the group most likely to challenge the system of institutionalized social justice that Columbia’s administration and the ruling class it represents are trying to construct. Fewer straight white men in top federal agencies, banking conglomerates like Goldman Sachs, and Big Tech companies like Google will make for a future society where progressivism enjoys near-universal acceptance and adoption, at least at its upper echelons.
As bleak as the situation at Columbia University and higher education may seem, giving into despair would only make things worse. After all, an Ivy League degree remains the ticket to entering America’s elite. The unjust practices of Ivy League admissions boards seem unlikely to go away anytime soon. Straight white men — particularly conservative straight white men — should still keep vying for admission to Columbia and institutions of its ilk. They should play every conceivable diversity card in their deck, whether that entails joining the right high school clubs, writing unique and compelling essays and personal statements, or digging deep into “family lore.” The future of our nation truly hangs in the balance.
Written by an anonymous student attending Columbia University.
The views expressed in this article solely represent the author's views and not necessarily College Dissident's.