UNITED STATES NEWS

Education Department opens investigation into Harvard’s legacy admissions

Jul 25, 2023, 10:50 AM

BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into Harvard University’s policies on legacy admissions, which give an edge to applicants with family ties to alumni.

Top colleges’ preferential treatment of children of alumni, who are often white, has been facing new scrutiny since the Supreme Court last month struck down the use of affirmative action as a tool to diversify college campuses.

The department notified Lawyers for Civil Rights, a nonprofit based in Boston, on Monday that it was investigating the group’s claim that alleges the university “discriminates on the basis of race by using donor and legacy preferences in its undergraduate admissions process.”

An Education Department spokesperson confirmed its Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation at Harvard and declined further comment.

The complaint was filed July 3 on behalf of Black and Latino community groups in New England. The group argued 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. For the Class of 2019, about 28% of the class were legacies with a parent or other relative who went to Harvard.

“Qualified and highly deserving applicants of color are harmed as a result, as admissions slots are given instead to the overwhelmingly white applicants who benefit from Harvard’s legacy and donor preferences,” the group said in a statement. “Even worse, this preferential treatment has nothing to do with an applicant’s merit. Instead, it is an unfair and unearned benefit that is conferred solely based on the family that the applicant is born into.”

A spokesperson for Harvard on Tuesday said the university has been reviewing its admissions policies to ensure compliance with the law since the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action.

“As this work continues, and moving forward, Harvard remains dedicated to opening doors to opportunity and to redoubling our efforts to encourage students from many different backgrounds to apply for admission,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, Wesleyan University in Connecticut announced that it would end its policy of giving preferential treatment in admissions to those whose families have historical ties to the school. Wesleyan President Michael Roth said a student’s “legacy status” has played a negligible role in admissions, but would now be eliminated entirely.

In recent years, schools including Amherst College in Massachusetts, Carnegie Melon University in Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland also have eliminated legacy admissions.

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 student diversity.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said he commended the Education Department for taking steps to ensure the higher education system “works for every American, not just a privileged few.”

“Every talented and qualified student deserves an opportunity to attend the college of their choice. Affirmative Action existed to support that notion. Legacy admissions exists to undermine it,” he said.

A study led by Harvard and Brown researchers, published Monday, found that wealthy students were twice as likely to be admitted to elite schools compared to their lower- or middle-income counterparts who have similar standardized test scores.

The study looked at family income and admissions data at the Ivy League and Stanford, MIT, Duke and the University of Chicago, found that legacy admissions policies were a contributing factor to the advantage high-income students have at these schools. Athletic recruitment and extracurricular credentials, which are stronger when students attend affluent private high schools, were the other two factors.

___

Associated Press reporters Annie Ma and Gary Fields contributed from Washington, D.C.

United States News

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks. (Photo by George Frey/Getty...

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on rapid-fire rifle bump stocks, reopening political fight

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun accessories used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Couple rescued from desert near California’s Joshua Tree National Park after running out of water

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A couple hiking in the desert south of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was rescued after running out of water, authorities said. On Sunday, the man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office posted Monday […]

6 hours ago

Hugo López of Al Otro Lado advocacy group hands a pamphlet to Antonio Cortes, a Mexican man who wa...

Associated Press

Some Mexican shelters see crowding south of the border as Biden’s asylum ban takes hold

Some shelters south of the U.S. border are caring for many more migrants now that the Biden administration stopped considering most asylum requests.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people Friday after they were stuck for about half an hour dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park. Portland Fire and Rescue said on the social platform X that firefighters worked with engineers at Oaks Park to manually lower the […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Independent report criticizes Cuomo’s ‘top-down’ management of New York’s COVID-19 response

NEW YORK (AP) — An investigation into New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic found former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “top down” approach of dictating public health policy through his office, rather than coordinating with state and local agencies, sewed confusion during the crisis. In the state’s nursing homes, where some 15,000 people died, the administration’s […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging federal rules to accommodate abortions for workers

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawsuit filed by 17 states challenging federal rules entitling workers to time off and other accommodations for abortions lacks standing, a federal judge in Arkansas ruled on Friday. Republican attorneys general from each state, led by Arkansas and Tennessee, sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April, days after the agency […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Education Department opens investigation into Harvard’s legacy admissions