JULY 1st, 2023 | Thomas Carter

Racism Is Out At AMerican Universities, But What About Legacy Admissions?

The Supreme Court struck down Affirmative Action, but what about rich kids and their family names?
Legacy admissions are all about keeping it in the family. When universities are sifting through a pile of eager applicants, they sometimes give a sly wink to those who have a relative, or two, who have graced the hallowed halls before them. It's like a secret society, or a sacred bloodline, granting an exclusive pass to those lucky enough to have the right last name. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Affirmative Action, what about legacy admissions?
Banning race-based admissions was the right thing to do, but now imagine this: a legacy applicant struts into the admissions office, armed with their family connection. Sure, academic achievements and test scores matter, but that legacy status? It's the golden key that can unlock doors others can only dream of. It's like having a backstage pass to a rock concert — the rules might be a little more flexible for these fortunate few.
At those snooty Ivy League schools, legacy admissions reign supreme. We can look at Harvard University, the crown jewel of academic elitism. They've had their fair share of scrutiny over their legacy admissions practices, and boy, have they raised a few eyebrows.
Picture this: Malia Obama, daughter of the cool-cat former president, Barack Obama, and the fabulously fierce Michelle Obama. With a name like that, you'd think she could breeze her way into any university she fancied, right? Well, yes, that's exactly right. Despite not boasting a perfect academic record or rocking the highest SAT scores, Malia found herself a cozy spot at Harvard University in Visual and Environmental Studies.
Other legacy admissions at other institutions include Ivanka Trump at the Wharton School Of Business in Pennsylvania and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended Stanford University for her undergraduate studies and later pursued a Master's degree at Oxford University. Former President George W. Bush, son of President George H.W. Bush, was admitted to Yale University, following in the footsteps of his father, who also attended Yale. Both were members of the infamous Skull & Bones fraternity.
These policies don't just perpetuate socio-economic inequalities, but they also continue to exacerbate racial disparities in higher education. It's like pouring gasoline on a dumpster fire. Research shows that legacy preferences tend to favour some of America's most elite dynasties.
Harvard University has acknowledged having a legacy admissions policy. In court documents related to a lawsuit challenging their admissions practices, it was revealed that Harvard considers an applicant's legacy status as a factor in admissions decisions. Princeton University has also acknowledged considering legacy status as a factor in their admissions process. In their admissions publications, they have stated that "legacy status can play a role in the admissions process."
These policies are regressive.
We're in the 21st century and it's high time we prioritize good old-fashioned meritocracy in our admissions processes. Getting rid of race-based admission was only the first step. Now let's ditch the notion that a family name is worth more than hard work, talent and the ability to rock a killer college essay.
The truth behind legacy admissions in American universities, where family ties can secure you a golden ticket to academic glory, is that they do exactly what Affirmative Action does. It's a tumultuous world of secret handshakes and hidden advantages. Legacy admissions have their loyal defenders, but critics are armed with torches and pitchforks, ready to dismantle the gates of privilege. The cases of Malia Obama at Harvard University and Bush at Yale exemplify the clash between tradition and fairness, where a famous name can open doors that others can only dream of.
But let's not forget the bigger picture here. Legacy admissions aren't just about handing out golden tickets to the lucky few; they're also deepening the cracks of inequality in our education system. It's like a never-ending cycle, where the offspring of the privileged continue to bask in the glory of their family name, while those from less fortunate backgrounds struggle to even catch a glimpse of the ivory tower.
Research shows that legacy preferences tend to favour the well-heeled. This further entrenches the disparities that plague our society. It's a slap in the face to the idea that education should be a great equalizer, a path to upward mobility for all. When universities prioritize family connections over merit, we perpetuate a system that rewards the privileged and closes the door on those yearning for a chance to prove themselves.
Universities need to take a long, hard look at their admission guidelines. It's time to reevaluate their practices, break free from the shackles of legacy preferences and embrace a truly merit-based system. In this era of "progress and inclusivity", we need to bid farewell to the old boys' club mentality that has long plagued the halls of academia. No more advantages for those with the Bush, Obama and Biden names. With Affirmative Action finally defeated, America needs a strong meritocracy based on skill, discipline and capability. 
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