From atop our soapbox in college admissions, we at Ivy Coach have been calling for an end to the practice of colleges offering preferential treatment to the progeny of alumni — a practice known as legacy admission — for many years. We’ve denounced the practice for many reasons over the years but today, we aren’t going to articulate any of these reasons. Rather, we’re going to share some of the words of The Editorial Board of The New York Times, which today called for an end to the practice of legacy admission or, as they write it, “a country struggling with deeply rooted inequality need not continue an affirmative action program for successful families.” Here, here!
New York Times Editorial Board Calls for End to Legacy Admission
As The Editorial Board writes in their powerful piece entitled “End Legacy College Admissions,” “Preferential treatment for legacy admissions is anti-meritocratic, inhibits social mobility and helps perpetuate a de facto class system. In short, it is an engine of inequity.” But our readers already know all that. It’s unfair. It’s not right. It fosters a sense of inequality. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got it. We’re more interested in the ideas The Editorial Board proposes to eliminate a policy that, in many ways, attracts the donations necessary to underwrite the education of many low-income students at our nation’s most elite universities. Because therein lies the rub: the policy that fosters inequality by offering preferential treatment to the children of the privileged also allows colleges to educate the underprivileged who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to attend these schools.
NYT Editorial Board Proposes Disincentivizing Colleges from Offering Preferential Treatment to Legacies
So what does The Editorial Board of “The Paper of Record” propose? As they write, “Withholding federal funds — a public policy bulldozer that the federal government successfully used against schools that violated civil rights laws — would be a major step, but one that also risks hurting low-income students…Instead, the government could require schools to tally and publish how many of their students are legacy admits, along with their scores and socioeconomic status, as a way to give the issue more publicity and to shame them into ending the practice…Another approach would be for schools to stop explicitly asking applicants about relatives who may be alumni…Yet another idea, put forward by Aaron Klein and Richard Reeves, Brookings Institution researchers who study inequality, would give incentives to schools to drop anti-meritocratic policies, including legacy admissions, in exchange for a reduction in their endowment taxes.”
And while we’re not particularly impressed by any of these imperfect ideas, we salute The Editorial Board of The New York Times for suggesting ideas that can disincentives our nation’s elite colleges from offering such preferential treatment to the children and grandchildren of alumni. We love that The Editorial Board devoted its Sunday op-ed to this important issue and we love that the editorial is filled with ideas to help usher in change. Way to go, New York Times Editorial Board!