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This State is Considering a Ban on Legacy Admissions

New York is considering a ban on legacy admissions.

A proposed bill, called the “Fair College Admissions Act,” would prohibit the use legacy admissions in New York colleges and universities and impose financial penalties for non-compliance. The push for the bill follows a Supreme Court decision last year overturning affirmative action, Chalkbeat reports.

“At institutions that do use legacy, the admissions rate at some of the most exclusive schools is four times greater for legacy students versus non-legacy students,” State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, a sponsor of the bill, says. “And 75% of all legacy students come from the top 10% of wealthiest families in the country.”

NEARLY 30% OF COLLEGES PRACTICE LEGACY ADMISSIONS

Nearly 30% of U.S. colleges consider legacy status, with over 40% in New York. Legacy admissions can significantly increase acceptance rates for those students.

But the public opinion on legacy admissions is changing. In 2022, a study found that a growing number of adults, including more than 70% of both Democrats and Republicans, believed that legacy status should not play a role in admissions.

At Cornell University, students have passed multiple resolutions calling for the university to end its practice of legacy admissions.

“It’s a fundamentally wrong and unfair practice,” Claire Tempelman, a senior at Cornell who helped introduce a 2021 resolution urging the university to end legacy admissions, says.

Tempelman says the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action last year only heightened the urgency of the issue.

“It’s ridiculous that even though you’re getting rid of affirmative action, you’re still keeping what is essentially affirmative action for the wealthy,” she adds. “It’s this hypocrisy that makes legacy admissions just seem even more untenable.”

Some New York colleges, such as New York University, have already voluntarily stopped considering legacy status in admissions. Under the proposed New York law, colleges that continue to consider legacy status in admissions would face a financial penalty, with the collected funds being directed to the state’s tuition assistance program for low-income students.

“All of these institutions benefit from New York state dollars,” Gounardes says. “We should not be funding exclusionary practices.”

Sources: Chalkbeat, Pew Research Center

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