Stanford Admits to Anti-Jewish Admissions Bias in ’50s

Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne admitted Wednesday that the university discriminated against Jewish applicants in the 1950s, and apologized for those actions.

“On behalf of Stanford University I wish to apologize to the Jewish community, and to our entire university community, both for the actions documented in this report to suppress the admission of Jewish students in the 1950s and for the university’s denials of those actions in the period that followed,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “These actions were wrong. They were damaging. And they were unacknowledged for too long.”

Tessier-Lavigne appointed a panel to examine whether the allegations of anti-Jewish discrimination were true, and he released the panel’s report on Wednesday as well.

The panel said that Rixford K. Snyder, who was admissions director for 20 years, “played a central role in efforts to limit the number of Jewish students at Stanford.”

The report discussed a university memo written in 1953 to then-President Wallace Sterling from his assistant, Fred Glover. The memo focused on the number of Jewish students being admitted to Stanford. At the time, Stanford drew heavily from the West Coast, California in particular, for students. Glover listed two high schools in Los Angeles–Beverly Hills and Fairfax—whose student populations were “from 95 to 98 percent Jewish,” and said that accepting “a few” from those schools would be followed by “a flood of Jewish applications” the next year. Glover cited Snyder’s concern “that more than one quarter of the applications from men are from Jewish boys” during that admissions cycle.

Snyder ended recruitment efforts at those schools and “appears to have taken other steps that had more direct and measurable effects, visible only in a close analysis of the annual reports of the registrar’s office.”

Panel members examined Office of the Registrar records and found a “sharp drop” in the number of students enrolled at Stanford from those schools. There were 87 enrolled during 1949-1952, but only 14 in 1952-55, a drop that was not seen in any other public schools during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Stanford Admits to Anti-Jewish Admissions Bias in ’50s
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