Despite the recent media buzz surrounding sexual culture at Yale and a majority-male freshman class, freshmen women interviewed said they doubt the University is significantly different from its peers.
The class of 2015 is 51 percent male — a 3 percent increase from last year’s freshman class — but administrators and admissions experts said such fluctuations in the ratio of men to women are normal and random. Though the extensive national media coverage of the Title IX investigation into allegations of a hostile sexual environment at Yale coincided with matriculation decisions last spring, 16 of 18 freshmen interviewed said the investigation did not faze them as they considered which college to attend.
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Many emphasized, however, that they believe sexual misconduct would be an issue on any campus, even though it has been in the spotlight at Yale.
“At first it was a little alarming, but if you think about it, all colleges have this going on,” said Alice Buckley ’15, who added that the University’s increased awareness of potential problems actually made her more comfortable. Five of six admissions experts agreed that the investigation likely had little effect on students’ decisions.
Several freshmen said their friends from high school sometimes teased them about entering a campus filled with gender issues, though some said they still attracted more snide remarks about safety in New Haven than about the investigation. Buckley said she received an email with a link to an article about the investigation from her high school biology teacher, who advised her to “look out” in a tone that Buckley said was simultaneously playful and serious.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said in an email that the class of 2015 has 688 men and 663 women — a difference of 2 percent — while last year’s freshman class is composed of 647 men and 696 women, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Enrolling a majority of male students is not unheard of in Yale’s recent history: The class of 2008 registered 675 males and 632 females in its freshman class.
“I do not speculate about specific causes of annual fluctuations in numbers or yields [because] there are just too many variables involved in admissions outcomes,” Brenzel said. “Sometimes a class has more males than females and sometimes it is the other way around.”
After the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched its investigation of Yale in March, 15 of 17 prospective students interviewed during Bulldog Days in April, along with 16 of 18 current freshmen, said the investigation did not factor into their college choices. All seven male freshmen interviewed, along with nine of 11 female freshmen interviewed, said the Title IX investigation did not influence their decisions whether to enroll.
But the investigation did play a more significant role in some students’ decision-making processes. Jenna Li ’15, an international student from China, said she and her parents were already worried about sexual misconduct on American campuses, so news of the investigation only heightened their concern. But she said she ultimately decided to matriculate because of the many opportunities Yale offers.
Keren Abreu ’15 said the investigation did not affect her decision to matriculate, but she said she has become more concerned now that she has arrived on campus.
“I’m always careful that my suitemates and I are traveling together so that no one is alone,” she said.
One of six college admissions experts said she thought the Title IX investigation could have adversely affected female students’ opinions about Yale, but five of the six had not heard of the issue before being contacted by the News, and none said they encountered students who were worried about the investigation. Only Judi Rabinovitz of Judi Rabinovitz Associates Educational Consulting said she had conversations about the issue with prospective female Yalies, who she said were not particularly troubled by the issue.
Leonard King, who served as director of college counseling at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., for 33 years before stepping down last summer, said though two young women at his school turned Yale down, he never had a conversation with either of them about the Title IX investigation.
“[Students’] main focus is on whether the academic programs they want are available,” said Michael Goran, founder and director of IvySelect, a college consulting company that aims to help students get into selective colleges.
But Jane Horn, director of college counseling at Kent Denver School in Engelswood, Colo., said the Title IX questions could have been a major concern for parents.
“For parents who are concerned about their daughters being sent far afield to an urban community in the East, the safety of 18-year-old girls can be a sensitive issue,” she said.
The yield for the class of 2015 was 65.2 percent. The admissions office does not release individual yields for men and women.