PC Ranked Most Segregated College By Princeton Review

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

Providence College tops the most recent Princeton Review list - for being the most segregated campus.
The Princeton Review's 26th Annual College Rankings were recently released, and Providence College was ranked tops of 382 schools -- for having "little race/class interaction."

In contrast ranking first for "lots of race/class interaction" was Rice University in Texas - and Brown University ranked 14th.  In total, the Princeton Review asked students 84 questions and ranked schools in 62 total categories. 

PC has in recent years been at the center of racially charged allegations on campus, from reports of an off-campus incident in 2016 that bottles were thrown at black students - by white students, as well as an occupation of President Father Brian Shanley's office in protest of the college's response. 

About the Rankings

"This is the 26th edition of Best Colleges, and this has been asked the entire time," said David Soto, the Director of Content Development for the Princeton Review in an interview with GoLocal. 

"We go directly to the college experts -- the currently enrolled students -- and we ask a variety of questions," said Soto. "This particular one was, 'Do different types of students interact frequently and easily?' Students then answer on a five point scale."

Soto noted that schools are generally surveyed every third year, but that the Princeton Review continually collects data.

"We survey schools every third academic year, so they were surveyed in the last three years," said Soto. "It's rare we don't get given responses in any year, however."

"Every school in the book we consider to be academically superlative -- a school wouldn't be in the book if not. We think that [PC] is doing a lot of things right, but students and families should look [at schools] through at a variety of lenses," said Soto. "We don't think that list alone with will sway [applicants]. We think all the categories are important."

2010 Review of PC

A 2010 review of Providence College and race found that the school ranked last in the Big East - its sports conference. GoLocal reported in 2010:

"...the numbers and percentages of black, non-Hispanic male and female students at all of the Big East colleges. The data shows that Providence College has the smallest population of black, non-Hispanic students, both in terms of absolute numbers and percentages of the overall student body. In addition, the percent of black, non-Hispanic male students is half that of the nearest college."

"Corey Wright was a guard on the 1997 PC men’s basketball team that made it all the way to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament and he’s not surprised by those figures. 'The first time I traveled to Providence was by train from New York City,' he said.  'I took one look around, got back on the train and went home.  I felt like there was nothing for me to do there.  My grandmother ended up putting me back on a bus and sending me back there even though I didn’t think that I’d fit in.'"

NAACP, PC Respond

A photo from the 2016 sit-in at PC President Father Shanley's office.
"My initial reaction is one of dismay and somewhat surprise. Clearly, no university would want to be labeled with the dubious distinction of being number one in 'Little Race/Class Interaction,'" said Jim Vincent, President of the NAACP Providence Branch. 

"Make no mistake about it, for years Providence College has had a deserved reputation for being inhospitable to students of color, particularly black students," said Vincent. "The anti-multi-culturism attitude was pervasive among all groups: students, faculty, and staff leading to indifference and even hostility."

"However, in recent years there has been an improvement in student enrollment, faculty, and staff. Since 2005, the numbers of people of color in each of these categories have doubled, leading me to believe that things have gotten better," said Vincent. "There still is a need to do better. There is only one black full professor, three Associate professors, and two Assistant professors.on campus. Hopefully, this will change."

Steve Maurano, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Community Relations at Providence College, responded on Monday with the following statement:

“Embracing Diversity” is one of the five core values of Providence College’s strategic plan.  When Fr. Shanley became president in 2005, 8% of our undergraduate day students self-reported as multicultural.  Since then, we have made a conscious and deliberate effort to increase the number of multicultural students at the College, and that figure has steadily increased to the point where it is 18.3% of the class of first-year students who will begin their college career later this month.  We aim to increase that figure even further in the years to come.

In the last few years, we have paid considerable attention to ensuring that this now-larger group of multicultural students feels welcome and included as members of our College community.  We have, for example, created a Diversity Committee comprised of students, faculty, and administrators to monitor progress and recommend specific steps in making all members of our community feel welcome. While we have enjoyed some successes, we also are aware that more work remains to be done.

With regard to campus culture, we are beginning to see that more of our multicultural students are getting involved in campus clubs and organizations.  This coming year, for the first time, the presidents of the four largest student clubs, including our student government organization, will be women.  Three of those four are women of color, which is also a first.  These women were elected by their fellow students to lead these clubs, which we believe is a sign that our campus climate is moving in the right direction."

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