A Legacy of Privilege

Jacob Gardenswartz and Anika Ranginani

January 28, 2018

In this episode of Quite Frankly, Jacob and Anika connect with students, admissions counsellors, and academics to discuss Penn’s policy of giving legacy students preference in admissions decisions. We explore the history of the legacy system, the arguments for and against it, and the likelihood of change in the future.

Below are a couple of excerpts from the podcast:

“‘Oh the argument in favor of [legacy admission] is the legacy of giving. When you admit the children and grandchildren of the people who attended previously, you create generations of people who are going to give back monetarily to the school. When you look at buildings at the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll see names of people whose relatives previously went to the University of Pennsylvania. Tuition dollars only pay a portion of what it costs to educate at Penn. It’s those donations, that endowment that covers the rest.'” That’s Brian Taylor, the managing director of Ivy Coach, a private admissions counseling service which helps students get into prestigious universities like Penn. Taylor has long been a vocal advocate of ending legacy admissions. ‘When you look at the Penn admits to the Class of 2022, 25% are legacy admits. That’s not a statistic that I believe the University of Pennsylvania should be proud of.'”

“Some, like Brian Taylor, argue that legacy admissions violates tax code because they provide a benefit to individuals who make tax-deductible donations to universities, something that’s forbidden by the IRS. Others have even argued that legacy admission in public schools violates the Nobility Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”