NYC Council urges the state to ban legacy admissions

legacy admissions
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The New York City Council is pleading with state legislators to forbid universities from preferentially admitting the offspring of alumni, also known as legacy admissions.

Just over a month after the Supreme Court declared that race cannot be taken into account in admissions to higher education, a resolution in support of a state measure to ban the practice, known as “legacy” admissions, passed on Thursday. There were five council members who abstained.

Councilwoman Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn), chair of the education committee, and five additional people co-sponsored the measure. It requests that the proposed Fair College Admissions Act be passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor, mostly as a symbolic act.

Dinowitz stated at the gathering that “universities perpetuate a societal status quo through legacy preference.” “It gatekeeps exactly who is allowed into college classrooms and from there, of course, who is allowed into future boardrooms and lucrative workplaces, in positions of decision-making — all spaces lacking traditionally representation from marginalized communities.”

Following the Supreme Court ruling, there has been increased pressure on New York institutions to review their long-standing admissions procedures.

According to data gathered by Education Reform Now, almost seven in ten private institutions and over a third of public schools in New York take applicants’ ties to alumni into account.

Legacy admissions proponents justify it as a recruitment strategy and a means of encouraging close links between families and their schools, including to elicit donations and even to finance scholarships that aid in campus diversity.

The resolution was initially presented by the Council last summer. Dinowitz told The News that he considered putting forth city-level legislation with penalties that was analogous to the state measure.

The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities initially expressed strong opposition to the state bill, labeling it a “unreasonable intrusion” that would fail to accomplish its intended goals. Since then, the business sector has changed its position, claiming a rising public perception that the practice is “expanding privilege instead of opportunity.”

If the legislation is not followed, colleges will be required to pay a fine equal to the tuition and fees for 10% of their full-time students. The state’s tuition assistance program, which covers low-income students’ college expenses, would receive that money.

A federal lawsuit against legacy admissions is also pending after a Boston law firm claimed last month that Harvard University is breaking the law on educational civil rights by giving preference to applicants who are connected to alumni. According to a report last week from the US Department of Education, their approach is currently the focus of a civil rights investigation.

As the executive director of Education Reform Now New York, Jacquelyn Martell remarked, “This vote by the City Council is an important step by the New York City Council to address the vast inequity in college admissions.” The proposed legislation that will remove legacy preference throughout New York State has to be taken up by our leaders in Albany.

Is Legacy Admissions on the way out

Legacy admissions, a long-standing practice that gives children of graduates and contributors an advantage in getting into several of the nation’s most elite universities, have come under intense public and legislative criticism.
The practice has lately been discontinued by a number of prestigious institutions, and some professionals believe it will soon cease to exist altogether.

According to a survey from the charity Education Reform Now, over 100 schools and institutions have eliminated legacy preferences overall since 2015.

Following the Supreme Court decision in June that virtually abolished affirmative action and forbade colleges from taking race into account when admitting students, the movement gained new vigor this summer.

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