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Wesleyan University Ends Legacy Admissions Following Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decision

Wesleyan University, an elite liberal arts college in Connecticut, has decided to end legacy admissions. The announcement came weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action.

Legacy admissions have been a point of contention within higher education systems for decades. After the Supreme Court ruled that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s use of race-based admissions processes were unconstitutional, conversations resurfaced about legacy admissions as favoring white, wealthy applicants.

Few highly selective colleges and universities have already dropped legacy admissions, such as John Hopkins and M.I.T., though most have argued that the practice helps build an intergenerational community and encourages donations, which could be allocated towards financial aid.

Politicians like President Joe Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) have condemned legacy admissions in the past.

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After the Supreme Court’s decision last month, Biden promised to ask the Education Department to examine “practices like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege instead of opportunity.”

Wesleyan’s announcement could prompt other institutions to ban legacy admissions, though it will be easier for some than others. Universities like Harvard and Yale, which have high shares of legacy admits, may be less willing to abandon the practice.

Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, shared in an interview with the New York Times that legacy admissions were becoming “a sign of unfairness to the outside world.”

“I’m wagering that Wesleyan alumni will be proud, and they want it to be a place that doesn’t give unearned privileges to applicants,” he said.

Ava Lombardi

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