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August 26, 2011 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Between 1967 and 1973, a program called The Foundation Years brought fifteen young African-American men from Chicago's West Side to Dartmouth College. The students were gang members, most of them Vice Lords.
posted by catlet (19 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
It was not, by most metrics, a roaring success. Fifteen men were admitted. Seven graduated with bachelor’s degrees; eight dropped out. Almost all of them returned to Chicago, most to the city’s segregated neighborhoods, where half beat the odds and found productive careers.

There's not enough information in the article to judge whether it was successful or not. How many Vice Lords growing up on the West Side in 1967 went on to get bachelor's degrees? I'm guessing less than 47%, but I don't know. I likewise don't know about the career numbers, but I wouldn't be shocked if a 50% "productive career" rate was also beter than average.
posted by jedicus at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2011


Nor did gangs become the obvious key to integrating Dartmouth, which has since grown sophisticated at achieving diversity. (Among the 4,248 undergraduates last fall, 42 percent were students of color or “unknown” ethnicity.)


really? that number seems really high to me.
posted by JPD at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2011


really? that number seems really high to me.

I have heard various white people say they put "prefer not to answer" for ethnicity because they think they will be penalized for being white. So who knows what the real percentage is. I strongly doubt that Dartmouth is less white than America as a whole (66% non-Hispanic whites in 2008).
posted by jedicus at 3:59 PM on August 26, 2011


I agree; half of these guys "beating the odds" might be a far, far better percentage than the control group.
posted by Miko at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2011


African American 8%
Asian American 14%
Hispanic 7%
International 7%
Native American 4%
White 55%
Unknown 6%

source

By comparison, blacks are about 12% of the US population and whites are 72%. source (PDF)
posted by desjardins at 4:04 PM on August 26, 2011


International 7%
Unknown 6%

There's enough room in there to make up the difference between 55% and 66%. But Dartmouth is less white than I would have guessed.
posted by jedicus at 4:21 PM on August 26, 2011


When i was in grad school, i shelved books at the library. One day I saw a book on the Vice Lords from 1965, with photos. Those dudes knew how to dress. Camel hair coats, perfect, literally perfect suits and hats. Amazing.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:21 PM on August 26, 2011


Dartmouth is less white now than when I was there, that's for sure. (Or so it seems to me now.)
posted by rtha at 4:38 PM on August 26, 2011


Those dudes knew how to dress. Camel hair coats, perfect, literally perfect suits and hats. Amazing.

Even as senior citizens, they're still a bunch of snappy dressers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:49 PM on August 26, 2011


MetaFilter: less white than I would have guessed.
posted by hippybear at 5:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're an institution dedicated to the construction and maintenance of an oligarchy, I guess you deserve a little credit for trying to make it racially diverse.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sounds a lot like the Posse Foundation, which sends a cohort of talented minority/urban students to selective colleges on full scholarship, on the theory that they will find the experience less isolating with friends from a similar background.

No word on whether you can use your gang experiences for the leadership essay on the application, though.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:16 PM on August 26, 2011


on the theory that they will find the experience less isolating with friends from a similar background.

For an idea of my background, virtually everyone from my high school went to a four year college. Certainly the idea that 'people like me' went to college had always been around. One of the only things I remember from my college orientation was that activity where you're asked to stand up if the statement being read out applies to you. We were in a lecture hall that had holds about 200-250 people and when they got to 'You or at least one of your parents was born outside the US' virtually everyone stood up. It was the first time in my life that being in that group didn't make me weird. Looking back, especially now where I'm back to being 'weird', that was tremendously important to me. For whatever reason, I mentioned this to my mother, who had gone to the parent session that ran alongside the orientation. They had done the same activity (though only had to raise their hands) and she had found it reassuring to know the other parents were in the same boat of not quite knowing how this college business worked.*

*There's probably some sample bias going on with the parents. The ones most inclined to attend the parent orientation are probably the ones with the least experience of the American university system, so people who didn't attend college in the US or at all. Well, them, plus the helicopter parents.
posted by hoyland at 7:04 PM on August 26, 2011


Is this similar to the program that Tracy Chapman was involved in?
posted by mjklin at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2011


I'm not sure how comparable the initiatives are. Here's Tracy Chapman's program.
posted by Miko at 8:08 PM on August 26, 2011


I always liked her music, but I'm glad at least two people agree that she's a good person also.
posted by sanka at 11:26 PM on August 26, 2011


race statistics are crap.
posted by - at 12:16 AM on August 27, 2011


There's not enough information in the article to judge whether it was successful or not. How many Vice Lords growing up on the West Side in 1967 went on to get bachelor's degrees? I'm guessing less than 47%, but I don't know. I likewise don't know about the career numbers, but I wouldn't be shocked if a 50% "productive career" rate was also beter than average.

Only one-third of *all* 25 to 34 years olds today have a bachelor's degree. Less than one-fifth of all black Americans of any age have a bachelor's degree today. 47 percent is an astounding figure. For West Side Vice Lords from 1967, I'd guess that oh, say, zero percent would go on to get a BA without intervention.
posted by zipadee at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having attended Dartmouth, I'd say the college is kind of split. There's this strong conservative current which certain students seem to like to propagate, but there is also a liberal undercurrent too. I was aware that they hadn't admitted Native Americans for a couple of centuries--one of my best friends identified as such. But I hadn't heard about this Vice Lords project, and it was a very interesting read, thanks!

I think the administration is trying to slowly diversify the student population, but it's also got to deal with its traditional reputation as being white and the most conservative of the Ivies. One thing that made me happy was seeing that William Kamkwamba is a student now, and majoring in engineering.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2011


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