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Legacy Admissions: Affirmative Action for the Rich and White


A new book edited by Richard Kahlenberg and backed by the Brookings Institution (not exactly a bastion of conservative thought) hammers home what we’ve known all along: elite colleges offer preferences to children of their alumni.
The result:  Less qualified legacy candidates sometimes are accepted over more qualified candidates without alumni ties.
My comment:  Duh.
Does it bother me that sons and daughters of rich-and-mostly-white alumni get a demonstrable, measurable preference in admission to elite institution?  Sure.  But it also bugs me that a girl with one  grandparent from Argentina who moved to the US to work at Goldman Sachs can claim to be “Latina” and therefore be given a preference for being part of an “underrepresented minority.”  It also bugs me that colleges take into account whether you can run fast, jump high, or throw a ball–and give preferences accordingly. It also bugs me that the nice Jewish girl from New Jersey can be beat out by a rancher boy from North Dakota–simply on geographical preferences.
The fact is, folks, is that this admissions game will never be fair and just and equitable–especially in private colleges, elite or otherwise. They are pretty much free to accept whomever they like, as long as they do not run afoul of civil rights law.  Of course, some are arguing (including in this report) that legacy preferences do discriminate–and should therefore be outlawed.  All I can say is, be careful what you wish for:  elimination of preferences of any type might spell the end of the Rose Bowl, March Madness, and the NCAA.  For starters.  If we base admissions standards solely on academics, then we may as well get rid of the Ohio State marching band:  who will be the tuba player that gets to dot the “i” if there are no preferences for marching tuba players?
Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant to Marching Band Members


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