Brown University to Allow Students to ‘Self-Identify’ as Persons of Color

Andrew Johnson, College Fix, November 29, 2017

Brown University is implementing a change to its graduate school application that will allow applicants to “self-identify” as persons of color. Multiple efforts by The College Fix to clarify the details of this change were ignored by campus officials.

The policy comes as a result of complaints made by graduate students on the Graduate School advisory board that international and Asian American students are not treated as members of historically underrepresented groups by the university, according to The Brown Daily Herald.

One graduate student, Lydia Kelow-Bennett, told The Herald that this decision has led to “institutional invisibility” for these students. Brown defines historically underrepresented groups as “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.” The school’s diversity initiatives are intended to benefit members of these groups.

Brown’s criteria for historical underrepresentation “caused some students to not receive invitations to certain events, such as a multicultural student dinner,” The Herald reported.

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When pressed about the change to the graduate school application — specifically how the option to “self-identify” as a minority differs from the standard ethnicity queries on other college applications — Clark gave no response.

Other universities allow students to “identify” a certain way in order to qualify for admissions or receive various benefits. The University of California, Davis, awards financial grants to students who identify as LGBT or as an illegal immigrant.

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