Why it matters: Opposition to legacy admissions has grown.
Since the Supreme Court decision, legacy admissions has come under heavy attack because the practice tends to favor wealthy, white applicants over Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American students.
President Joe Biden; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York; and Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, have all spoken out against the practice.
Polls also show that the public doesn’t support legacy admissions. A Pew Research Center survey from last year found that 75 percent of respondents believed that heritage status shouldn’t be a factor in college admissions.
Some highly selective universities and colleges have dropped legacy admissions, including Amherst, Johns Hopkins, and Carnegie Mellon.
But most have been reluctant to give up the practice, arguing it helps build a strong intergenerational community and encourages donations, which can be used for financial aid.
Background: Legacy status was becoming « a sign of injustice to the outside world ».
Wesleyan’s decision, which has about 3,200 undergraduate students, may be easier than for other colleges, like Harvard or Yale, which have a higher share of hereditary admissions.
Heritage status played a « negligible role » in admissions, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth said in an interview. But, he added, the practice was becoming a distraction and « a sign of injustice to the outside world. »
Mr. Roth said he doesn’t know precisely how many former Wesleyan students have been helped by legacy status. An applicant’s family ties could, for example, be used as a tie-breaker or to help shrink a pool. They won’t do it again.
She said she wanted to focus the conversation on improving diversity, including recruiting more veterans and students from rural areas, and avoid the discussion of « the embarrassing fact, really, that you got a head start because of your parents or grandparents. »
Mr. Roth said he thinks most alumni, though not all, would agree that legacy admissions are no longer appropriate.
« I bet, I suppose, » he said, with a hint of uncertainty, « that Wesleyan’s pupils will be proud of it, and want it to be a post that doesn’t give unearned privileges to applicants. »
What’s Next: Groups are challenging legacy admissions at other colleges.
The future of legacy campus admissions is uncertain.
After the Supreme Court decision, President Biden said he would ask the Education Department to look into « practices like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege rather than opportunity. » And Lawyers for Civil Rights, a group of legal activists, has filed a complaint with the department, seeking a review of legacy admissions, as well as admissions preferences for donor relatives, at Harvard.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the group, said in an interview that he expected more colleges in the coming months to make similar decisions, ahead of the next admissions round.
« Institutions will only reconsider their practices as a matter of basic fairness, » he said.