Ending the legacies!

Conservatives cheered the Supreme Court decision to eliminate consideration of race in university admissions. I have to wonder if they’ll be so happy about this other change at the University of Minnesota.

Admissions officers working on the U’s Twin Cities campus, which typically enrolls about 55,000 students, say they have long used a “holistic review” process that places the greatest weight on an applicant’s academic track record. But it also allowed them to report 10 additional attributes that were sometimes used to distinguish between otherwise similar candidates.

The university announced late last week that it would stop considering an applicant’s race, ethnicity or ties to U alumni or faculty — though it would still ask “for this optional information for recruitment and communication purposes about programs and services offered.”

Undergraduate student government leaders said Tuesday that they welcomed the effort to eliminate legacy admissions, noting some other colleges had already done so. But they wanted to know more about the plan to stop considering race and ethnicity, saying they believe it’s crucial to have a diverse campus.

Oh god yes. End the legacy admissions. If you’re going to eliminate biases in admissions, the first place you should start is ending the privileges that give preferential status to children of alumni. The only reason to benefit them is the hope that alumni will give them more money.

I don’t think Republican businesspeople and professionals realized how much of an advantage they’ve had, and now it’s going to be gone (optimistically — I don’t believe someone who donates money for a building on campus is going to find their kids rejected, not matter how unqualified they are. After all, our appointed interim president brings nothing to the school except his affiliation with Hormel.)

It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    You literally have a Spam president?!
    (Vikings, sitting in the background): “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam!”,*

    *ask your dad about the reference.

  2. robro says

    Per the NYT, Wesleyan University has also announced ending legacy admissions. Per the lede in the email I got, “After the Supreme Court decision, legacy admissions came under heavy attack because the practice tends to favor white, wealthy applicants over Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American students.” But as PZ suggests, I don’t doubt that “white” and “wealthy” will continue to be a main criteria for admission.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    I could see a distinction between government-run institutions like the University of Minnesota, and private colleges. I don’t see any way that a state university should be giving priority to ‘legacy’ admissions.

    Although, most universities that do research take in a lot of federal grant money, whether they are privately run or not.

  4. dbinmn says

    “Careful what you wish for”. They finally got rid of that “reverse racism [their words]” bugaboo and now have to give up that sweet deal of legacy admission. (There’s plenty of data showing legacies scoring lower than other subsets).

    Here in MN before the Dobbs decision, we had legal abortion but with a number of rules in place, but now, after the last session, we still have legal abortion but with almost none of the restrictions anti-abortionists worked to get over the decades. Careful what you wish for.

  5. says

    Our most-recent former President wasn’t a legacy at Wharton, but there were credible journalism pieces both prior to 2016 and prior to 2020 discussing how his father donated a significant sum and he was later admitted. Of course, the actual records are (a) (right) protected by privacy considerations and (b) no doubt rather nonspecific on the “real rationale” for admission, so…

    Legacy and celebrity admits are a problem. (Consider the history of the military academies with legacy admissions if you really want to scare yourself…)

  6. René says

    Since PZ decided to include a pic of his university’s logo, I must say it is awfully ugly. A capital M with 5 (!) heavy serifs. It’s a good symbol for American over-the-top-ism. Ugly, ugly, ugly. (Also, have a look at American ambulances, or firefighters.)

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    They’ll just find a way to do this under the table. They always do.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    You REALLY want to get rid of legacy admissions for the rich. The answer is easy.

    Get rid of the upper class.

  9. says

    Its not just ending the legacy students. Its also opening up admissions to other qualified students. The top universities in Australia have been criticised because of their abysmal track record of admitting indigenous students and students from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds. The sad statistic is that an indigenous student is more likely to end up in prison than they are to go to uni. We’ve just had a nasty right wing government tossed out, although Murdoch is doing his best to poison the voters minds to bring them back. The new government has just introduced a policy giving all qualified indigenous students fully funded admission to uni. Previously it established a university in an economically disadvantaged area. The previous government had promised to establish one there if re-elected but established one in one of the wealthiest areas of the city. The university in the disadvantaged area relaxed admission requirements for local students and because it has a large indigenous community in its catchment area it established a support unit for them to improve their chances of graduating. It is now a multi-campus uni producing quality graduates. One I know of, a single mother raising 3 children followed up her undergrad degree with 3 masters degrees and a PhD. She now runs a successful business serving the community at multiple locations in the region and is also a part-time lecturer. Her mother who helped care for her daughters while she studied eventually went back to school and now has her own degree. The government hasn’t tackled student debt yet but at least there is some progress until of course Rupert Murdoch gets the neo-nasties back in.

  10. magistramarla says

    The Minnesota logo looks exactly like the logo of the high school in Texas from which four of my five kids graduated, right down to the colors. When I first saw it, I was wondering what might have happened at that high school that caused PZ to post about it.

  11. magistramarla says

    For that matter, flip the M over to a W, and it exactly matches the logo for the high school in Illinois from which I graduated!

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Garydargan @ 11
    Rupert Murdoch is the ultimate cartoon villain. And by backing politicians who deny climate change, he is dooming all of us.
    He is another example of the banality of evil.

  13. rrutis1 says

    Magistramarla @13
    Did you go to one of the several W high schools in northeastern IL? Some versions of my HS look like that too.

  14. magistramarla says

    No, my high school was a lot further south – across the river from St. Louis.