President Barack Obama began his undergraduate studies at a California college to end legacy admissions, that they will no longer grant alumni children preferential treatment. Following a Supreme Court ruling that eliminated race from college admissions decisions, Occidental College, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles, has become the most recent institution to abolish legacy admissions.
An applicant’s family connections to Occidental graduates “could be considered” in the past but had only a “minimal impact” on selections, according to a campus letter from the school’s president.
The Changes in Place
Occidental will no longer question candidates about alumni links as part of the application, according to President Harry J. Elam Jr.’s letter to the school on Wednesday. “Still, to ensure we are removing any potential barriers to access and opportunity, Occidental will no longer ask applicants about alumni relationships as part of the application,” he said. He referenced the ruling of the Supreme Court.
The 2,000-student college is well-known for being the place where Barack Obama started his college career in 1979. Obama attended Occidental for two years before transferring to Columbia. At the institution, Obama made his first political address in 1981, pleading with the administrators to divest from South Africa.
Obama was not a legacy student, and neither did his parents, according to an Occidental spokesman. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, colleges around the country have been under increasing pressure to stop using legacy admissions. Opponents claim it can no longer be justified without a counterweight in affirmative action since it is seen as an additional benefit for the wealthy and white.
A Continuous Trend
A week after Wesleyan University in Connecticut discontinued legacy admissions, Occidental announced the change. A candidate’s relationship to a Wesleyan graduate “indicates little about that applicant’s ability to succeed at the university,” the school’s president said.
As a result of a civil rights organisation filing a complaint saying that legacy admissions are discriminatory and offer white students an unfair advantage, the U.S. Education Department is now looking into Harvard’s use of the practise. According to the Lawyers for Civil Rights complaint, students with family links to Harvard are up to seven times more likely to be accepted, can make up about a third of a class, and are generally about 70% white.
Following the elimination of affirmative action, opponents have increased their efforts. This month, the NAACP has urged more than 1,500 universities to stop using legacy admissions, and the organisation Ed Mobilizer has relaunched a campaign pushing alumni of 30 esteemed colleges to postpone making donations until their institutions do away with the practise.