College administrators: Why are there so many rich white and Asian people buying our $300,000 product?
One of the perks of being an expert witness in software patent lawsuits is that I get to eat where law firm partners eat. At O Ya, for example, I enjoyed the $285/person “grand omakase” menu (would have been another $100+ for the wine pairing, I think). At L’Espalier it was only about $200 per person, including wine. At no time did the restaurateurs come out, scan the dining room, and say “I can’t understand why it is mostly rich white and Asian people who eat here.”
Yet give a person a PhD in Higher Education Administration and he or she can be reliably counted on to wonder “Why don’t we have more racial diversity here on our gold-plated campus?” Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. BAMN, upholding Michigan’s ban on sorting applicants to public colleges by race, university administrators are scratching their heads once again, unable to figure out why a $300,000 undergraduate degree is appealing primarily to white and Asian Americans.
I’m wondering if it would make sense for a college that was interested in having a more diverse student population simply to cut prices so that a degree cost less than, say, a lightly used Rolls-Royce. There is a lot more racial diversity in a restaurant that charges $20 for a meal than in a restaurant that charges $200. Why wouldn’t we expect to find the same in higher education?