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Friday, September 29, 2023

Wesleyan University ends legacy admissions policy in pursuit of diversity, merit-based admissions

Wesleyan University in Connecticut announced Wednesday that it has become the latest school to end its policy of giving preferential treatment in admissions to those whose families have historical ties to the school.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth sent a letter to the university community saying that a student’s “legacy status” has played a negligible role in admissions, but would now be eliminated entirely.

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

Legacy policies have been called into question after last month’s Supreme Court ruling banning affirmative action and any consideration of race in college admissions. The court’s conservative majority effectively overturned cases reaching back 45 years, forcing institutions of higher education to seek new ways to achieve diverse student bodies.

And a Civil Rights complaint was recently filed against Harvard University over its legacy admissions policy.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a nonprofit based in Boston, which filed the complaint on behalf of Black and Latino community groups in New England, argued in that complaint that students with legacy ties are up to seven times more likely to be admitted to Harvard, can make up nearly a third of a class and that about 70% are white.

“Harvard is on the wrong side of history – but can change this by joining Wesleyan and scores of other institutions in eliminating donor and legacy preferences voluntarily,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

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