**Harvard University Under Investigation for Legacy Admissions Policies**
The U.S. Department of Education has launched a civil rights investigation into Harvard University’s legacy admissions policies, adding to the ongoing legal battles over college admissions. This move comes after the Supreme Court recently struck down the use of affirmative action as a tool to boost the presence of students of color. The investigation focuses on allegations made by a nonprofit organization in Boston that Harvard discriminates on the basis of race through its use of legacy and donor preferences in the undergraduate admissions process.
**Mounting Scrutiny on Legacy Admissions**
The preferential treatment given by top colleges to children of alumni, who are predominantly white, has faced increasing scrutiny following the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action. Legacy admissions have been a longstanding practice, but it has been called into question as a potential contributor to inequity in college admissions.
**Education Department Investigation**
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has initiated an investigation into Harvard’s legacy admissions policies. The department declined to provide further comment on the matter. This investigation comes as a response to a complaint filed by Black and Latino community groups in New England, asserting that students with legacy ties have a significantly higher likelihood of admission and make up a significant portion of the class. The complaint argues that this preferential treatment is an unearned benefit conferred solely based on family connections, rather than an applicant’s merit.
Harvard University has responded to the investigation, stating that it has been reviewing its admissions policies to ensure compliance with the law since the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. The university remains dedicated to achieving diversity and opening doors to opportunity for students from different backgrounds. Ending legacy preferences is seen as one of the many steps that Harvard and other universities can take to increase access, diversity, and equity in admissions.
**Legacy Admissions at Other Universities**
In recent years, other universities such as Wesleyan University, Amherst College, Carnegie Mellon University, and Johns Hopkins University have also eliminated legacy admissions policies. The Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action and the increasing calls for equity in admissions have prompted these institutions to reevaluate their practices.
**Criticism of Legacy Admissions**
The NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, commends the Education Department for taking action to ensure that every talented and qualified student has an opportunity to attend the college of their choice. Legacy admissions have been criticized for undermining the principles of equal opportunity. Wealthy students have been found to be twice as likely to be admitted to elite schools compared to their lower-income counterparts with similar standardized test scores. Legacy admissions, along with athletic recruitment and extracurricular credentials, were identified as contributing factors to this advantage.
The ongoing investigation into Harvard’s legacy admissions policies marks a significant development in the debate over college admissions and equity. The scrutiny on legacy preferences highlights the need for universities to prioritize diversity and access in their admissions processes. As more institutions reevaluate their practices, the aim is to create a fairer and more inclusive system that provides equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their family background.