A recent Stanford University graduate wrote an interesting editorial on Stanford legacy admissions that we figured we’d share with our readers. Shockingly (not), the writer, Jonathan Poto, argues against the use of legacy status in admissions decisions at Stanford. It’s not exactly popular to argue in favor of legacy status in admissions, right? Right. In his piece, Poto essentially argues that it is Stanford’s moral duty to eliminate the field on the application where it asks if relatives have attended the university.
As Poto writes, “To some practical concerns. Will Stanford’s endowment suffer if we turn away the grandchildren of wealthy alumni donors such as John Arrillaga ($151 million in 2013), or if we replace tuition ($56,411 per year) from wealthier legacies with financial aid packages? Although the extra money does fund financial aid and teacher salaries and infrastructure improvements, my response is, ‘Should we care?’ When the Board of Trustees quoted our Statement on Investment Responsibility (1971), saying that they would stop investment in coal companies since the endowment should not invest in ‘corporate policies or practices that create substantial social injury,’ they confirmed that we should not acquiesce to financial ends when it severely compromises our values. We should extend similar protections to the ideal of meritocracy that a liberal education such as Stanford’s is supposed to espouse.”
Poto makes a well argued point. We’ve been questioning for years if legacy admission is a violation of tax law. If you’re not familiar with this argument, alumni get tax breaks for donating to their colleges. They’re not supposed to receive compensation for these tax-deductible donations. And yet their children have much higher odds of getting in because of their donations…and their children will go on to make more money in their lifetimes because they gained admission to a highly selective college such as Stanford.
Do you think Stanford will do away with legacy admission in the near future just as it stopped investing in coal companies that created “social injury”? Do you think Stanford will lead this charge? Stanford has always been a school that marches to the beat of its own drummer in the admissions process. Will they be the ones to set the new standard? Which university do you predict will be the first to drop legacy admission entirely? Or will it never happen?
While you’re here, read about different types of Stanford applicants!