Duke ranks 3rd in black frosh ratio

Duke has the third-highest percentage of black freshmen among the nation's top schools, a survey in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education found.

Black students comprise 9.5 percent of the Class of 2010, a percentage identical to last year and one that places Duke behind only the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford University.

The article examines the top 30 schools in U.S. News and World Report magazine's annual rankings.

Duke was first in 2004 and fourth in 2005 according to the annual JBHE survey.

"We're very proud of [the ranking]," said Provost Peter Lange. "I'm pleased with it because it affirms what we're doing, which is our continuing commitment to having a diverse student body, including a large number of African Americans."

According to JBHE, one-third of the black students Duke accepts enroll at the school. Slightly more than a quarter of black applicants are admitted.

"One of the things the study points out is that there still aren't enough people who realize how diverse a place Duke is compared to our peers," said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag.

Senior Malik Burnett, Black Student Alliance president, said the findings were positive but added that the University should not become complacent with its consistently high ranking.

Burnett attributed Duke's high matriculation rate among black applicants in part to BSA Invitational Weekend, held in March for admitted students. About 60 percent of those who attend BSAI enroll, he said.

The JBHE article makes specific reference to questions about race relations raised by charges of rape against three members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team. The alleged victim in that case is a black woman, and the three indicted players are white.

The study found that the lacrosse case seemed to have little effect on black enrollment.

The University did not admit significantly higher numbers of black students in anticipation of lacrosse-related recruitment troubles, the article stated, and the number of black freshmen this year is similar to the Class of 2009-160 to 163.

Although every year is unpredictable, there was concern and uncertainty in the admissions office about what effect the scandal would have on black enrollment, Guttentag said. But he added that this did not lead his team to alter their methods.

"We're not going to change our standards simply because there may be something that has a negative impact on us," he said.

Freshman Iyanna Atwell attended BSAI and said it was instrumental in her decision to come to Duke.

"[The lacrosse scandal] was not important to me at all," she said, adding that many of her friends felt the same way. "I had my own opinion and I thought the media overblew it."

Coming to campus and observing the climate of race relations for herself had a positive impact, too, she said.


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