In the Williams College class of 2015, there were 70 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) graduates. None of them were African-American. (Full list of students available in the course catalog, and reprinted below the break for your convenience.) Comments:

1) There were 44 African-American First Years in 2011-2012 (pdf). Some of those students transferred or took time off. Some African-American students from earlier years ended up in this class. We don’t know the total number of African-American graduates in the class of 2015, but it was probably around 40.

2) Since Phi Beta Kappa is the top 12.5% of the class, we would expect about 5 African-American PBK graduates. Of course, there will be random variation. Perhaps this year is low but, in other years, African-Americans are over-represented? Alas, that does not appear to be the case; there were zero African-American PBK graduates in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017. There was one in 2016.

3) A relevant news hook is the “scandal” last spring over UPenn law professor Amy Wax claiming that African-American law students “rarely” graduate in the top half of their class. The difference between EphBlog and Amy Wax, obviously, is that we have the data. (Williams declined to confirm or deny our analysis.)

4) Should we spend a few days discussing the reasons for this anomaly? If the Record were a serious newspaper, it would investigate this statistic and interview senior faculty and administrators about it.

Williams 2015 Phi Beta Kappa graduates:

Abramson, Sarah
Amdur, Samuel
Augenbraun, Benjamin
Best, Andrew
Borre, Ethan
Boydstun, Chelsea
Calnek-Sugin, Talia
Curley, Erin
Curran, Rebecca
Dalzell, Benjamin
Damion, Julia
DeMeo, Benjamin
Dennis, Katherine
Devine, Samuel
Ellis, Amber
Engle, Clyde
Fleming, Charlotte
Freeman, Jesse
Friedland, Hannah
Gilmore, Madeline
Goldstein, Nitsan
Grabowski, Andrew
Guo, Alexander
Harrington, Emma
Heinrichs, Lydia
Helinek, Jennifer
Hoover, John
Hoyle, Benjamin
Jarombek, Laurel
Kovalova, Anastasija
Leonard, Isaiah
Leonard, Kelsey
Lewis, Samuel
Lidston, Claire
Ling, Brandon
Livingston, Nile
Loh, Isaac
Loy, Kelsey
Marvel-Coen, James
Meacham, Dylan
Miller, Tara
Mitchell, Adrian
Moszkowski, Erica
Mukherjee, Moneesha
Nanda, Alexander
Neubauer, Michael
Nevin, Lauren
O’Donnell, Sam
Oddleifson, Charles
Petti, Samantha
Pickel, Molly
Porfilio, Jaclyn
Raskin, William
Rasmussen, Raea
Reinstadler, Bryn
Sakuma, Miho
Samach, Gabriel
Silver, Alexander
Solovy, Anna
Sparks, Tyler
Stewart, Haley
Stewart, Zachary
Sutton, John
Tanavisarut, Phonkrit
Thomasian, Jasmine
Thompson, Nathan
Weihs, Christopher
Whidbee, Paige
Yoo, Jeewon
Zikovich, Shannon

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