When folks suggest that highly selective colleges use quotas nowadays, that they limit the number of certain groups of students, we will forcefully shake our heads. Because no highly selective university in America in this 21st century applies quotas in the admissions process based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. During the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University trial, which was recently decided in favor of Harvard (though the decision will, of course, be appealed), it was alleged that Harvard uses quotas to limit the number of Asian American students in each incoming class. Now don’t get us wrong. We have long argued — quite publicly — that Harvard and all highly selective colleges discriminate against Asian American applicants. And we have long called for these schools to end this unjust discrimination.
Asian Americans Face Discrimination in Admissions, But Not Through Quotas
But don’t mistake discrimination for the use of quotas because suggesting that these schools, including Harvard, use quotas diminishes the discrimination that Jewish American students faced for many years at Harvard. You see, decades ago, Jewish American students really did face quotas in Harvard’s admissions process — a directive issued by an anti-Semitic former Harvard president, A. Lawrence Lowell. In fact, one could make the argument that the practice of offering preferential treatment to legacy applicants was developed as a way of limiting the Jewish population at America’s highly selective colleges. As these schools faced rising Jewish student enrollment, they needed a way to continue to admit the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant students they had long educated. By offering preferential treatment to the children of their alumni, they were able to achieve just that. Sneaky, right?
Yes, the roots of legacy admission trace to anti-Semitism in America. It’s one of the reasons why we so vocally oppose legacy admission and why it’s high time to end the practice of offering preferential treatment to the children and grandchildren of a school’s alumni-base. This way, our nation’s elite universities will be one step closer to fostering an American aristocracy based on merit rather than on birth. Wouldn’t that be something?