Harvard’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, has called the university’s recent restructuring of its essays on applications to have a “disparate impact” on those with marginalized backgrounds.
“Learning to package yourself within a shorter amount of space is a product of advanced education; longer essays more equitably allow applicants to discuss their experiences in full, particularly if they are from non-traditional backgrounds and require more space to elaborate on nuanced qualifications,” the statement read.
According to the board, applicants engage in “trauma dumping” to help give the university a better understanding of their background and how they have overcome obstacles in their lives.
“Those who have undergone traumatic experiences should not have to fear that writing about the experiences that shaped them looks like a beg for admission.”
The editorial board also believes that one of the new essay prompts asking applicants to share a memorable intellectual experience is alienating.
Not everyone on the editorial board agreed that the new essay prompts are disastrous for “marginalized” students.
Two members of the Harvard editorial board, Ruby J.J. Huang and Joshua Ochieng, disagreed with their colleagues and co-wrote a dissenting opinion.
“These prompts give clear guidance on what Harvard wants to know about its applicants. For a student with limited experience in writing an application, the prompts assuage the burden of trying to determine the aspects of their life that are of interest to Harvard.”
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