Campus Diversity: The Hidden Consensus

(The Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

John M. Carey, Katherine Clayton, Yusaku Horiuchi

Campus diversity is a contentious topic, but this book shows far more consensus than conflict in student attitudes toward diversity.

Abstract: Campus diversity is central to national debates over racial, ethnic, and gender equality, affirmative action, and political correctness. Media coverage of protests and court cases suggests deep divisions over whether and how universities should pursue diversity among students and faculty. But what do students and faculty really think? We use a novel technique to measure preferences for diversity in undergraduate admissions and faculty recruitment at seven major universities. Scholarly excellence is a top priority everywhere, but we also find consistent preferences in favor of members of all traditionally underrepresented groups – by race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic background. We find broad consensus in these preferences across our participants and we find almost no polarization of preferences across any groups. Although affirmative action remains controversial in the abstract, there is broad support for prioritizing diversity in practice. Campus communities are less deeply divided than they are often portrayed.