rain
Saturday February 17th, 2018 10:22PM

Students, alumni challenge legacy preference at top colleges

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BOSTON (AP) — Students and alumni at some of the nation's top universities are urging their schools to reconsider admissions policies that give an edge to relatives of alumni.

Campus groups for first-generation and low-income students at 12 elite universities issued a joint letter Wednesday asking their schools to review the impact of so-called legacy admissions policies through proposed campus panels that would include students and alumni. The coalition also called on their schools to publicize policies and data on the topic.

"This campaign is not about whether or not legacy applicants like our future children deserve their place in their respective universities," the group wrote. "It is about ensuring that all students have equal footing in the admissions process regardless of whether or not their parents attended a certain university."

Officials from the 12 schools did not immediately comment on the letter.

Although most colleges closely guard the weight they give to legacy status, data released by some Ivy League universities show that relatives of alumni are admitted at far higher rates than the overall applicant pool.

The letter is signed by student groups at Harvard, Brown, Yale and all other Ivy League schools except Dartmouth College, which does not have a campus group for first-generation students, the coalition says. Others in the group come from prestigious private schools including Amherst College and the University of Chicago.

While students in the coalition acknowledge the practice could benefit them — and some said they felt conflicted about challenging it — they argue that ending legacy preferences would give more low-income and first-generation students a shot at attending prestigious schools.

"No matter how hard you work, you can't make yourself a legacy. No amount of SAT studying could make up for that," said Alfredo Dominguez, a 20-year-old first-generation Columbia student and a member of the coalition. "They do actively try to admit students from diverse backgrounds, but this is another step or barrier to getting to a more equitable place."

Students aren't immediately asking schools to ban the practice but say they want to start a conversation. The group opposes legacy policies but recognizes it's a complicated issue that deserves a thorough review, said Viet Nguyen, a Brown alumnus leading the effort.

The coalition is adding pressure to elite admissions offices at a time when they're already under renewed scrutiny. Harvard, for example, is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department over the role that race plays in admissions after a group of Asian-American students filed a discrimination lawsuit.

Past studies have found that most highly selective private universities give an advantage to legacy applicants, but most closely guard the policies and their impact.

Among the 12 schools targeted by the coalition, only Princeton University would provide The Associated Press its admission rates for legacy applicants. There, the rate for children of alumni has hovered around 30 percent for the past five years, compared with about 7 percent for all applicants.

Cornell University declined to provide acceptance rates but said 16 percent of this year's freshmen have a parent or grandparent who attended. The share at the University of Pennsylvania is 14 percent.

Schools defend the practice by saying it encourages alumni to donate, which adds money for student scholarships. Many say it's used only as a tiebreaker in close decisions.

But some critics say there's evidence suggesting otherwise.

"It provides a substantial benefit to applicants," said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a New York-based think tank. "At a time when we're racking our brains about how to attack inequality, here's a policy that is designed to provide a preference to some of society's most advantaged students."

Opponents cite research including a 2010 study at Harvard finding that at 30 elite schools, the probability of admission increased 45 percentage points for students with a parent who attended. Some other studies have found no connection between legacy policies and alumni fundraising.

Among the practice's critics are some who have benefited from it. Former President George W. Bush, for example, called for an end to legacy preference even though it helped him get into Yale, which his father and grandfather attended. Instead, Bush said schools should judge applicants simply based on merit.

Students in the coalition say their next step is to organize votes at several schools to gauge support for the goals outlined in their letter. That's planned at schools including Brown, Yale, Princeton and Cornell.

___

Follow Binkley on Twitter at @cbinkley and McDermott at @JenMcDermottAP

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Students, alumni challenge legacy preference at top colleges
A new coalition of students and alumni from 12 top U.S. colleges are asking their schools to rethink legacy admissions policies
11:03AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Mardi Gras marred as 3 killed, 5 wounded in New Orleans
A festive close to Mardi Gras was marred by shootings across New Orleans that left three people dead and five others wounded
10:39AM ( 28 minutes ago )
California teacher defends anti-military comments
City Council members in the Los Angeles suburb of Pico Rivera passed a resolution Tuesday night condemning and asking for the resignation of one of their colleagues who called members of the U.S. military "the lowest of our low."
10:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
U.S. News
NATO chief urges defense budget hike amid command expansion
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is urging European allies and Canada to keep ramping up defense spending, as the alliance expands its command headquarters in response to a more assertive Russia
10:51AM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Man acquitted of harboring Paris attackers
A French court has acquitted a man charged with harboring Islamic extremists after they carried out the 2015 Paris attacks, in the first trial related to the country's deadliest extremist violence since World War II
10:50AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Sam's Club to offer free shipping for premium members
Sam's Club is offering free shipping for premium members and simplifying its membership tiers
10:42AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Shaun White's Olympic gold a highlight of Day 5
The highlights of Day 5 of the Pyeongchang Olympics include a gold medal for American snowboarder Shaun White and a second consecutive gold medal in doubles luge for German duo Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt
10:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
White wins USA's 100th winter gold, gets grilled by media
Shaun White won a historic third Olympic gold medal in the men's halfpipe, then faced questions about sexual misconduct allegations hours later
9:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
White apologizes for comments on sexual misconduct lawsuit
Shaun White apologizes for calling sexual misconduct allegations against him 'gossip'
9:33AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Races too close to call at NBA All-Star break
NBA's races could be closer than ever at All-Star break
3:01AM ( 8 hours ago )
New No. 1 Virginia beats Miami 59-50
New No. 1 Virginia looked the part, never trailing and holding Miami to 38 percent shooting to win 59-50
12:22AM ( 10 hours ago )
James' 37 lead Cavaliers past Thunder 120-112
James' 37 lead Cavaliers past Thunder 120-112
12:13AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Notre Dame president rips NCAA's denial of Notre Dame appeal
The NCAA has denied Notre Dame's appeal of the committee on infraction's decision to vacate 21 victories, including all 12 from the school's 2012 national championship game run, because of academic misconduct
3:21PM ( 19 hours ago )
TCU going for 5th College World Series appearance in a row
TCU looks to become 1st program to make five straight College World Series appearances since NCAA went to current tournament format in 1999
3:23AM ( 1 day ago )
Smith, Thompson headline Women's hoops Hall of Fame class
Katie Smith, Tina Thompson and Chamique Holdsclaw headline the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame class for 2018
10:03PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Virginia climbs atop AP Top 25 for first time since 1982
Virginia has climbed to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in more than 35 years
12:01PM ( 1 day ago )
Blackshear's putback lift Hokies past No. 2 Virginia in OT
Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored on a putback with 5.8 seconds left in overtime and Virginia Tech spoiled No. 2 Virginia's opportunity to climb to No. 1 with a 61-60 victory
8:36PM ( 3 days ago )
Bridges lifts No. 4 Michigan St past No. 3 Purdue 68-65
Miles Bridges makes tiebreaking 3-pointer to lift No. 4 Michigan State over No. 3 Purdue 68-65
8:12PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
Mardi Gras marred as 3 killed, 5 wounded in New Orleans
A festive close to Mardi Gras was marred by shootings across New Orleans that left three people dead and five others wounded
10:39AM ( 28 minutes ago )
California teacher defends anti-military comments
City Council members in the Los Angeles suburb of Pico Rivera passed a resolution Tuesday night condemning and asking for the resignation of one of their colleagues who called members of the U.S. military "the lowest of our low."
10:01AM ( 1 hour ago )
Suspect wounded, SUV stopped after shooting at NSA gate
One person was wounded in a shooting outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade
9:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
Golfer Bill Haas escapes serious injury in fatal crash
Officials say professional golfer Bill Haas was hospitalized but escaped serious injuries following a rollover crash in Los Angeles that killed the driver of the Ferrari he was riding in and injured the driver of a BMW
9:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
Suspect injured, SUV stopped after shooting at NSA gate
Police say authorities are responding to a shooting outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade, where police have surrounded a handcuffed man after a black SUV ran into a barrier
8:49AM ( 2 hours ago )