Wesleyan University: Top US college says it will end ‘legacy’ admissions

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Wesleyan University, an elite US liberal arts college, says it will no longer grant preference to student applicants with family or donor ties.

The Connecticut institution said it was “important” to end legacy admissions, which have long been criticised as a perk for the white and wealthy.

It cited the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that race could no longer be considered as a factor in admissions.

A vast majority of Americans are against legacy admissions.

In a statement on Wednesday, Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said “an applicant’s connection to a Wesleyan graduate indicates little about that applicant’s ability to succeed”.

For that reason, he said, such ties have played a “negligible” role in the university’s admission process.

Mr Roth also said that Wesleyan will continue to value its “ongoing relationships that come from multi-generational Wesleyan attendance”.

But there would be no legacy “bump” in its selection process from now on, he said.

Wesleyan joins a number of other US universities that have already dropped legacy admissions, including Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT.

An opinion poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center found that 75% of Americans were against legacy admissions, up from 68% in 2019.

  • Harvard policy ‘favouring white students’ challenged
  • Supreme Court overturns race-based college admissions

US President Joe Biden last month led criticism of the practice, saying that “adversity” should be considered in the college admissions process.

“When a poor kid, maybe the first in their family to go to college, gets the same grades and test scores as a wealthy kid whose whole family has gone to the most elite colleges in the country and whose path has been a lot easier, well, the kid who faced tougher challenges has demonstrated more grit, more determination,” he told reporters at the White House.

“That should be a factor that colleges take into account.”

Mr Biden’s comments came after the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to repeal decades-old US policies on so-called affirmative action, also known as positive discrimination.

Following the decision, a Boston-based non-profit, Lawyers for Civil Rights, filed a federal civil rights complaint against Harvard’s legacy admissions.

The legal action cited studies indicating that a vast majority – 70% – of legacy and donor-based applicants are white.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, referred to legacy admissions as affirmative action for white people.

Harvard has yet to publicly address the issue.

Related Topics

  • Higher education
  • Connecticut
  • United States

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