Jul 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Wesleyan ends legacy admissions after Supreme Court affirmative action ruling


Wesleyan University Campus. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Wesleyan University announced Wednesday that it would end legacy admissions, a practice that favors relatives of alumni and has attracted criticism in recent years.

Why it matters: The Connecticut-based liberal arts school ended the fairly common practice weeks after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action.

The big picture: "In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action, we believe it important to formally end admission preference for 'legacy applicants,'" Wesleyan President Michael Roth wrote while announcing the decision.

  • Relatives of Wesleyan alumni will continue to be admitted to the school "on their own merits," he added.
  • Wesleyan is committed to ensuring diversity among its student body, Roth wrote, including by creating a scholarship program aimed at recruiting undergraduates from Africa.
  • Roth told the New York Times that while legacy status had played a "negligible" role in the school's admissions process, it had become “a sign of unfairness to the outside world.”

Zoom out: Advocates have called for schools to reassess practices like legacy admissions and early decision policies, which typically favor wealthy, white applicants.

  • Three in four young Americans believe it's unfair for colleges to consider an applicant's legacy status in admissions.
  • The practice has come under scrutiny in recent years, with President Biden also condemning it in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling.
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