Dillon Harindiran, recent St Andrews graduate, Laura Lewis, visiting PhD student, and Alice Olomola, President of St Andrews’ African-Caribbean Society, have published an open letter to Principal Sally Mapstone calling for name-blind University applications.
St Andrews graduate Dillon Harindiran has published an open letter to Principal Sally Mapstone requesting a review of the University’s selection process as a means of initiating a “transition to a name-blind application process for the following academic cycle”.
Mr Harindiran, along with visiting PhD student Laura Lewis, have already made efforts to encourage the University to introduce a name-blind application process — in which an individual’s name is not made visible on their application — when they previously revealed statistics on St Andrews’ ethnic diversity in May on the University’s Instagram page.
Mr Harindiran outlines that the lack of a name-blind application process could inadvertently limit the number of offers awarded to Black and Minority Ethnicity (BME) applicants to St Andrews.
Along with the open letter, the students have also composed a petition in support of changing the University’s admissions policy. Both the open letter and the petition can be reached via the link below.
Mr Harindiran claims that approximately 80 per cent of St Andrews’ black students have already signed this petition.
Alice Olomola, President of St Andrews’ African-Caribbean Society, has joined Mr Harindiran and Ms Lewis in publishing the open letter to Principal Mapstone concerning issues of ethnic diversity at the University and appealing for name-blind applications to be considered in the admissions process.
Ms Olomola outlines that “the petition highlights a growing sense of the University only appealing to students of a certain background. Students are taking issues to do with the lack of diversity into their own hands with steps such as petitions and future projects.”
Ms Olomola also told The Saint that she feels there is a “need for BME students to come together to strengthen each other, whether that is with mental health or with academic or educational problems.”
In response to Mr Harindiran’s letter, a University spokesperson said “it’s encouraging that students are taking an active interest in our efforts to improve diversity in St Andrews, and that they are making a contribution to debate, a central aim of the Diversity section of our recently published University Strategy.
“We’re already looking very closely at the idea of name-blind applications, but as Mr Harindiran himself acknowledges, it is a necessarily complex area which requires very careful thought and planning.”
Regarding the claims made by the students’ petition, the University pointed out that “the headline claims made by the petition are false. It is not true to say that the evidence is clear, that introducing such a process is easy, that there are no reasons not to proceed and that the University ‘has refused to do anything thus far.’”
“As Mr Harindiran is aware from several meetings he has had with senior staff, name-blind applications may in some instances help to improve diversity, but in others they may have exactly the opposite effect, and that is something we are all anxious to avoid.”