Why Was I Rejected? A Closer Look at the Big Sib Program

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The Big Sib Chairs recently put out a statement in response to “Rejected: A Closer Look at the Big Sib Program,” which was published in the Winter 2018 Spectator magazine and discusses the role that race plays in the selection of Big Sibs. Their response was concerning, to say the least.

We understand that it can be difficult to accept criticism. But we are hopeful that the Big Sib Chairs will be able to put their own embarrassment and discomfort aside and engage in more meaningful discussion. We also hope that the enormity and importance of this issue will not be cheapened by uninformed Facebook posts.

Here’s the deal: the goal of The Spectator, as always, is to report honestly on the issues that affect our school, whether or not they reflect well on people and institutions in positions of power. The idea that the Big Sib program is discriminatory in terms of race—whether intentional or not—is an idea that has long echoed through our halls. The decision to look into the actual statistics and stories of the accepted and rejected applicants, to talk to the Chairs about how exactly the process works, and to publish the article was made in order to find out how much truth there is to this assumption.

In the end, using the names of applicants collected directly from the acceptance and rejection e-mails that the Chairs sent out* (note that certain Chairs refused to talk with our writers, despite being asked numerous times over a period of months. They also refused to release any official data to The Spectator), allowed us to find that there indeed is a pattern—statistically speaking, a Caucasian male has almost 10 times the chance of being accepted compared to his Asian male peer.**

This is real.

Despite what the Chairs say, racial bias is not something that can be “cancelled out” by splitting a group of interviewers into five groups. Racial bias is not based on any “distinct line.” Racial bias exists without “personality scores” and “quotas.” This is what is most concerning about the Chairs’ response to the article—they describe race, using embarrassingly simplistic terms, as something that could not possibly affect the Big Sib program.

But race and racial biases affect all of us, whether or not we want them to. And the best way to combat our racial biases is to acknowledge the way that they contribute to our daily lives from the subconscious. The Editorial Board that decided to pursue this article is made up of a group of students who are both Big Sibs and journalists. For us to publish this piece means we are confident that it effectively and fairly tells a story that must be told.

In the end, we encourage you to read the article yourself. Take away from it what you will. But remember this: do not be afraid to talk about race. Do not turn your anger and embarrassment over discussions about race into a self-perpetuating cycle of denial. The Big Sib program, at its heart, is one of this school’s most well-intended programs. Let’s keep it that way.

*A note to the Chairs: “misleading and problematic data” is not the same thing as “data we do not want published.”

**There is one misprint in the article. The graph shows that 18 out of 36 Caucasian male applicants were rejected. In reality, only 8 were rejected.