I-House Denies Bias in Selection Procedure

    Having concluded a 10-day investigation into the integrity of UCSD’s International House admissions policies, administrators are denying allegations that their selection process is racially biased.

    Though I-House Director Christi Gilhoi did not release any specific details about the investigation, she said that both the UCSD Office of Campus Counsel and an outside statistical analyst were contacted to review the admissions procedure.

    “The study found no evidence of bias with respect to cultural categories,” Gilhoi said. “Our legal counsel has identified no legal problems with the admissions process.”

    The review was launched on April 10, after the system came under fire last month when Gilhoi mistakenly sent a confidential e-mail to everyone on the I-House listserv.

    The e-mail — which was sent to all current I-House residents — contained a spreadsheet with the personal information of 148 students who applied to live in I-House during Fall Quarter 2009. Some students who received the information expressed concern over columns on the spreadsheet that identified the “citizenship” and “cultural identity” of applicants.

    Gilhoi said that indicating one’s cultural identity and national origin is an optional component of the application.

    “They are used for statistical purposes only, and in room selection, to keep with the theme of International House as half U.S. and half international students,” Gilhoi said. “For example, in a four-person apartment, there would be two U.S. students and two international students.”

    A student— who was denied acceptance to I-House last year — met with Gilhoi and ERC Resident Dean Rey Guerrero on April 16 to discuss the content of the leaked e-mail.

    “They used this example that if there are already too many people from the UK, and even if a bunch of UK students got higher scores than someone from France or Italy, they will pick from the applicants from France or Italy,” the student said. “So even if other people might have higher scores, they can still not get in, because there are too many applicants already accepted from that area.”

    John*, an anonymous student who used the e-mail address [email protected] to criticize the admissions system on the I-House listserv, sent Houston an e-mail on April 9 detailing his concerns.

    He received an e-mail response from Houston on April 10 acknowledging his concern and notifying him of the investigation.

    John said that I-House’s practice of accepting 50 percent U.S. students and 50 percent international students should be an illegal quota system.

    “There is just no way that the 50-percent quota for international students is constitutional,” John said.

    He referred to the 1978 Supreme Court decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, which allowed race to be a consideration in admissions policy — in the interest of academic diversity — but held that quotas were illegal.

    Additionally, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin for all programs receiving financial assistance from the federal government.

    The student added that she is skeptical as to why I-House officials are not providing the details of their recent investigation.

    “It speaks to the fact that there is something that they might not want us to know,” the student said. “They think its better to not show anything.”

    According to Gilhoi, I-House reviews applications in two rounds. The first round takes place in February, and is only open to current UCSD students. The second round, which takes place in June, is open to international students, new transfer students and new graduate students.

    All applications are initially reviewed by a selection committee of 24 current I-House students, including both U.S. and international students. This committee — which Gilhoi said reviews applications “independently and without discussion” — scores the applicants based strictly on essay responses, a creative submission and letters of recommendation.

    This score sheet is sent to a committee of staff members from both I-House and ERC Resident Life. The committee considers the preliminary rankings — along with “additional criteria” such as housing guarantee status, student conduct and gender balance — to choose the initial round of admits.

    “We analyze how the applicant would play a role in promoting cross-cultural communication and the exchange of global ideas and opinions in the community.,” Gilhoi said. “The committee members evaluate the reason for the applicant’s interest in living in I-House, the activities they are interested in being involved with and how their past experiences and interests would contribute to the I-House community.”

    Nevertheless, John — along with several other students who registered complaints after the March 4 e-mail — said he is doubtful that past experiences and additional criteria are the only reasons some applicants were rejected.

    “Obviously they claim to not use race, but I think they have already acknowledged racial discrimination,” John said.

    The UCSD Legal Counsel could not be reached for comment.

    Readers can contact Kelly Kim at [email protected].

    This article was updated on April 2, 2021 at 3:56PM to omit the name of the student quoted in this article out of privacy concerns.

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