Surveyed seniors in the Class of 2016 reported coming from a range of backgrounds: different regions of the country and the world, racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, religious preferences, and gender identities. A plurality of respondents, however, are not religious, hail from the East or West coasts, and report coming from families with incomes that are among the wealthier in the U.S.
In the Class of 2016’s time at Harvard, students and administrators alike have publicly questioned if the College does enough to welcome minority students on campus. The Crimson’s survey found that women, students of color, first-generation college students, undergraduates from lower class backgrounds, and those who identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, or queer disproportionately reported feeling marginalized because of their identities while at Harvard.
Roughly 77 percent of surveyed seniors reported coming from households with combined family incomes of more than $80,000; 15 percent said their family incomes total $500,000 or more, while 12 percent reported coming from households with combined incomes of less than $40,000.
- A plurality of respondents—43 percent—described their family’s socioeconomic status as upper middle class. Fourteen percent described their families as upper class, while the smallest proportion—4 percent—described their backgrounds as lower class or poor.
- About 68 percent of students who said they receive full financial aid from Harvard reported feeling marginalized here because of their socioeconomic status.
- Students who said they are the first in their family to attend college were also more likely to report experiencing marginalization on the basis of class: 70 percent said they had felt marginalized because of their socioeconomic status while at Harvard. About 65 percent of respondents who reported coming from households with incomes under $40,000, too, said they felt this way.
- A much smaller proportion of surveyed seniors with one or more parents who attended Harvard College—meaning they are considered legacies—reported feeling marginalized because of their socioeconomic status (7 percent).
Sixty-eight percent of black respondents reported feeling marginalized because of their race while at Harvard. About 44 percent of respondents who identify as Latino or Hispanic said they have felt marginalized because of their race, while 49 percent of East Asian respondents and 40 percent of South Asian respondents said the same.
- Overall, 50 percent of non-white respondents reported experiencing marginalized on the basis of race since matriculating.
Gender and Sexuality
Survey results indicate that more seniors surveyed now identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or asexual than they did before they came to Harvard.
- About 82 percent of surveyed seniors said they currently identify as heterosexual, while 7 percent identify as homosexual; 7 percent as bisexual; 3 percent as questioning; 1 percent as asexual; and 1 percent as other.
- About 88 percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they identified as heterosexual before they matriculated. Five percent said they identified as homosexual before coming to Harvard, and 3 percent said they identified as bisexual before arriving.
- Seventy-five percent of students who identify as homosexual say they are totally open about their sexuality, while 23 percent said they are open about it to some people but not to others.
Women and respondents who identify as BGLTQ were more likely to report feeling marginalized because of their identities while at Harvard.
- About 52 percent of women surveyed said they have felt marginalized because of their gender while at Harvard.
- Of students who said they identify as homosexual, 58 percent reported feeling marginalized because of their sexuality while at Harvard; 43 percent of bisexual respondents said the same.
A plurality of seniors surveyed—43 percent—said they are not at all religious, while another 27 percent indicated that they are not very religious. Three percent described themselves as extremely religious.
- Forty-two percent of surveyed seniors said they are agnostic or atheist, while 18 percent identified as Catholic, 15 percent as Protestant, and 11 percent as Jewish.
- A majority of respondents—59 percent—said they have not become more or less religious while at Harvard. About 27 percent said they have become less religious, while 14 percent said they have become more so.
- About 32 percent of surveyed seniors who reported coming from rural communities said they have felt marginalized because of their geographic background while at Harvard, compared to 19 percent of respondents from urban areas and 12 percent of those from the suburbs.