Lacrosse Scandal Has Little Impact on Duke University’s Black Enrollments

This past spring, the campus of Duke University was rocked by charges that three white members of the lacrosse team raped a black student from nearby North Carolina Central University. The woman, who had been hired as an exotic dancer for a party off-campus hosted by a lacrosse team member, was allegedly subjected to slurs and other racist comments prior to the reported assault.

As a result of the incident, race relations on the Duke campus and the relationship of Duke University to the historically black North Carolina Central University were placed under a microscope by the nation’s press and media outlets.

But all of this adverse publicity appears to have had almost no impact on black first-year enrollments at Duke University. There are 160 black freshmen at Duke this year, only three fewer than in the fall of 2005. Blacks make up 9.5 percent of the entering class at Duke this year, exactly the same as a year ago.

In past years Duke had declined to report to JBHE its black student acceptance rates or black student yield. But this year Duke was willing to report this information. Just over 27 percent of all black students who applied to Duke this year were accepted for admission. This is only slightly higher than the acceptance rate for whites. So it appears that Duke did not accept a higher number of blacks in anticipation of difficulty in attracting black students because of the lacrosse team scandal. Duke’s black student yield of 33.3 percent is lower than those of Ivy League institutions but is in line with the black student yield at such institutions as Northwestern, Emory, Wake Forest, and the University of Chicago.