The Moment is Now to End Legacy Admission

We stand proudly against the practice of legacy admission.

For many years, from atop our soapbox in elite college admissions, we at Ivy Coach have argued against the practice of legacy admission. We believe the practice of offering preferential treatment in admissions to the progeny of a school’s alumni base is an anachronistic practice more befitting an aristocracy than our proud American meritocracy. Yet we also weren’t born yesterday. We know why legacy admission exists. We understand that we’re arguing for the end of the practice all as the children of underrepresented minorities who have in recent decades graduated from these elite institutions alas come of college age. And we understand that alumni donors so often subsidize the educations of low-income young people who need financial aid, many of whom are underrepresented minorities, in the hope that their children will receive preferential treatment in admissions. In short, we fully understand that eliminating legacy admission isn’t a perfect solution, but we believe it’s the best solution possible.

In a piece for Boston.com entitled “‘A real yearning to right the wrongs of our past’: The fight to end legacy admissions at Ivy League schools,” Collin Binkley paints a detailed portrait of the history of legacy admission and the ever growing calls to end the practice. As he writes, “America’s elite colleges are facing growing calls to end the decades-old tradition of giving an admissions boost to the children of alumni — a practice that critics say is rooted in racism and bestows an unfair advantage to students who need it least. Fueled by the national reckoning with racial injustice, opponents say they are gaining momentum in the battle over the contentious policy of legacy preferences. Ivy League students are pressing administrators to abandon the policy. Yale’s student government took a stance against the practice in November. A recent vote of Harvard students found that 60% oppose it. Hundreds of students and alumni across 30 colleges have promised to withhold financial donations over the issue. Civil rights groups are increasingly adding their support, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which is tackling legacy preferences as part of a campaign against systematic racism. And a bill in Congress aims to eliminate the practice. The proposal from Democrats would outlaw preferences for children of alumni or donors at colleges that receive federal money. It’s being pushed by the party’s progressive wing but has gained support from some conservative activists who want college admissions to be based on merit alone.”

We believe the time has come, the time is now to end the practice of legacy admission. We believe this is the moment in our shared American narrative when these schools finally say enough is enough. Legacy admission fosters inequity. Legacy admission runs counter to the values our nation’s elite universities espouse. Legacy admission fails to meet our country’s current moment as we grapple with a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequity. Legacy admission has no place in 21st century America. And so we stand with Amherst College and Johns Hopkins University, which both recently eliminated legacy admission. We stand with the majority of students at so many elite institutions who oppose the practice. We stand with the American Civil Liberties Union. We stand with the legislators who aim to outlaw the practice once and for all nationwide. It’s time.

 
 

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