Previous Triangle article . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Next Triangle article
ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS where several Negroes, one Jew, and a handful of Catholics are enrolled -- in a student body numbering close to 1,000 -- an uncomfortable awareness that everybody's face is a kind of variation on the same theme is inescapable.
Such homogeneity is an obvious deterrent to the broadening process which a college experience at best can be. Most of us, at one time or another, must have wondered why Hanover students, socially, culturally, economically and ideationally appear so like one another.
In a recent interview, Mr. Frank Blanning, Director of Admission, was asked to describe Hanover's admissions policy in general and in regard to minority groups specifically. Blanning stated that no qualifications of race, color, or creed whatsoever exist in the admissions policy. Toward its actualization the admissions office gives equal consideration to all applicants, whether or not they diverge from the norm.
There is a preponderance of Presbyterians (40%) among the student body, but that is to be expected of a Presbyterian college since it has access to the recruiting channels of the church. Presbyterians are given no preference over any other group in the actual consideration of applications for admission. The same holds true for Indiana residents. Blanning commented that Hanover has always felt a commitment of sorts to the state, since the school was founded for the purpose of educating people in the Indiana wilderness, but that the great number of native Indiana students is due to the nature and size of the institution, not to any preferment in the admissions office.
"We want the student who can best take advantage of the educational opportunities we offer here," Blanning said. "We wouldn't reject a superior Indiana student in order to admit a mediocre student from Connecticut for the sake of a broad geographical distribution of the student body."
He estimates that about 82% of the students enrolled at Hanover College come from families where considerable financial sacrifice is involved in sending them here. This figure is of course, relevant to the consideration of financial homogeneity among the student body.
This, then, is Hanover's policy. On the practical level, however, there are specific problems involved in the admission of students in each of the principal groups. A great many Negro high schools, for example, have what it called "terminal programs" which prepare high school boys and girls to be wage-earners, not college students, after they graduate.
Blanning quoted James Meredith's statement that there are too few Negroes qualified for college work to go around among the colleges anxious to enroll them. No school can afford to accept an unqualified student and demand that he produce satisfactory work; it would simply be unfair both to the student and to the applicant he displaced.
This situation is, however, improving; and moreover Hanover is related to the National Negro Scholarship Program, the purpose of which is to see that qualified high school graduates financially unable to attend college are provided with scholarship money.
There is no Jewish community in the Hanover-Madison area, so Jewish students must go to Louisville to attend worship service, an inconvenience not encountered in urban areas. This is an obvious handicap, and accounts largely for the dearth of Jewish students, in addition to the fact of our Presbyterian affiliation, which in some cases may also be a deterrent.
Catholics do not officially object to the compulsory chapels, since they are not considered "worship services;" but many priests advise Catholic students to attend only Catholic universities, and this cuts their potential enrollment sharply.
Admission of foreign students is encouraged. Under President John Horner's administration several new scholarship opportunities for foreign students have come into existence.
The department of admissions functions as "a kind of catalytic agent for the total program." Hanover's admissions procedure is outlined briefly by Blanning:
The admissions personnel travel considerably, principally to high schools where they have been invited to speak and to explain the Hanover Plan. These trips are informatory in nature, however, rather than effort to campaign actively for applicants.
According to Blanning, then, the uniformity of the student body, insofar as it exists, would appear to be a necessary function of Hanover's size, location, Presbyterian affiliation, liberal arts nature, and other external factors, rather than to any discriminatory selective policy on the part of the admissions office.