Minority applicants are nominated for coveted slots at prestigious service academies such West Point and Annapolis at rates far below those of White students, according to a new long-range study. That disparity affects diversity in the academies themselves as well as in the military’s officer ranks.
The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and the Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic examined almost 25 years of nomination data from the admissions offices at the United States Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy while compiling their report.
The report found a drastic gap between the nominations of White students and those of students of color to the academies, the researchers said. Most military academy candidates are nominated by their congressional representatives.
While White students receive almost 75 percent of nominations, Black and Hispanic students are distinctly underrepresented, receiving only 6% and 8% of nominations from sitting members of Congress.
Liam Brennan, executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, said the current congressional nomination system is leaving qualified minority students behind.
“Because many general officers graduate from the service academies, the congressional nomination bottleneck ultimately impacts diversity at the highest levels of military leadership,” Mr. Brennan said. “While some Congress members are making good-faith efforts to promote students of color, the data points to a clear and urgent need for improvement across Congress and in the academy admissions process at large.”
“Underrepresented students across the nation do not have equitable access to the service academies and are denied the lifelong opportunities that an appointment can provide,” the researchers said.
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