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University ends legacy admissions after affirmative action ruling

Family members of alums of one Connecticut university will no longer be given a 'bump' in the selection process.
University ends legacy admissions after affirmative action ruling
Posted at 7:07 AM, Jul 20, 2023

Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts university in Connecticut, said Wednesday it will officially end legacy admission practices. 

The practice has faced renewed criticism after the Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities cannot use race as a factor in college admissions. Opponents of legacy admissions say if race cannot be considered in college admissions, neither should a parent's alumni status. 

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said a family's alumni status played a "negligible role" in prior admissions, but the practice needs to formally end. 

"We still value the ongoing relationships that come from multi-generational Wesleyan attendance, but there will be no 'bump' in the selection process. As has been almost always the case for a long time, family members of alumni will be admitted on their own merits," Roth said. 

SEE MORE: How med school admissions could work post-affirmative action

Roth said the university will try to create a diverse campus by recruiting students from around the country, redouble efforts to recruit veterans, and try to attract students transferring from community colleges. 

Roth added that the university will try to expand its three-year degree program to make costs more affordable, among other initiatives to lower costs. 

"We have long taken an individualized, holistic view of an applicant’s lived experience—as seen through the college essay, high school record, letters of recommendation, and interactions with our community. Our admission decision is based upon diverse facets of the individual’s history, talent, potential to contribute to the university and get the most out of a Wesleyan education," Roth said. 

The policy change comes after the Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England, and the Greater Boston Latino Network filed a lawsuit against Harvard University for its legacy admissions policy. The suit alleges that Harvard is engaging in discriminatory practices by giving preferential treatment to applicants with family ties to wealthy donors and alumni. 

"Particularly in light of last week’s decision from the Supreme Court, it is imperative that the federal government act now to eliminate this unfair barrier that systematically disadvantages students of color," Michael Kippins, a litigation fellow with Lawyers for Civil Rights, said earlier this month.

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