Several prominent universities end legacy admissions in light of affirmative action ending

The University of Minnesota is opting for a "holistic review practice" in its freshman and transfer student admissions process, dropping all considerations of race, ethnicity, legacy status or employment.

Three prominent schools have updated their admissions policy to no longer consider a student’s legacy status after considering the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action.

The University of Minnesota and Carnegie Mellon University—two R1 research universities—and the highly selective private liberal arts college Wesleyan University have rendered a student’s connection to alumni irrelevant when considering their application.

On Wednesday, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth announced the policy change, stating that an applicant’s legacy status has played a “negligible” role in admissions for years. The school’s website reports that 4% of its incoming class has a “Wesleyan parent,” a decline compared to the past five years in which legacy students made up 7% or 8% of its respective classes, according to CT Mirror.

“In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action, we believe it important to formally end admission preference for ‘legacy applicants,’” Roth wrote on the university’s blog. “We still value the ongoing relationships that come from multi-generational Wesleyan attendance, but there will be no ‘bump’ in the selection process.”

The University of Minnesota is opting for a “holistic review practice” in its freshman and transfer student admissions process, dropping all considerations of race, ethnicity, legacy status or employment.

Opponents of legacy admissions have become more vocal—and active—since the Supreme Court decision. Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based non-profit, filed a lawsuit against Harvard for its high favorability of legacy students in the admissions process, with one report discovering 30% of its student cohort is made up of applicants who shared this quality. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee recently explained how the practice disproportionately benefits wealthy white students.

However, colleges had long been preparing for the Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action. Two months before the decision, the University of Pennsylvania discretely updated its admissions policy to reflect its stance against considering legacy students more favorably. As non-resident scholar atGeorgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce Richard Kahlenberg put it, leveraging a student’s relation to alumni in admissions “will become even harder to justify if universities can’t use race in admissions.” 

Opportunities for under-resourced students at Johns Hopkins, an early adopter of ending legacy admissions, seem to have increased significantly in the past 10 years, according to Farouk Dey, vice provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design at Johns Hopkins.

Additionally, its number of Pell-eligible students has increased by 10% over 10 years, according to Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels in The Atlantic.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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