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Duke Enrollment Declines in Wake of Lacrosse Scandal


The percentage of students who accepted Duke University’s offer to attend the school dropped slightly for the incoming freshman class, and one school official says the men’s lacrosse scandal may be to blame.

Duke said last week that it expects to take about 125 more students from its waiting list of 900 than it did last year.

About 43 percent of admitted students enrolled at Duke last year. This year, that figure is expected to decline to about 40 percent or 41 percent, according to a memo from Duke’s dean of undergraduate admissions, Christoph Guttentag.

“I don’t think that would come as a huge surprise to anybody,” Guttentag says. “I think the university and the community have been the subject of an incredible amount of press that has painted the university and the community with a broad brush, and I think unfairly.”

The class of 2011 also will have more Hispanic and Asian students, increasing the incoming “students of color” from 37 percent last year to 40 percent. The percentage of incoming Black and White students have each decreased by 5 percent.

Before the lacrosse scandal broke, about 19,400 students applied for Duke’s approximately 1,665 openings. Duke offered to admit 21 percent of the applicants, compared with 22 percent last year.

But by the time high school students visited the campus in April, a local exotic dancer had accused three lacrosse players of raping and choking her at an off-campus party in March. Three players have now been charged.

“I think for some percentage of students who were right on the margin, where the decision was a particularly tough one, I think this would be the sort of thing that might push them away from Duke, and I think regrettably so, but that’s the nature of the situation right now,” Guttentag says.

The good news, he says, is that the general academic strength of the class is about the same as last year. That measure takes into account grades, test scores, extracurricular activities and other measurements.

— Associated Press

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