The U.S. Department of Education has begun looking into the legacy admissions practices of Harvard
U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education has initiated a civil rights investigation into Harvard University’s legacy admissions policies following increasing scrutiny of preferential treatment for children of alumni at top colleges. Legacy admissions practices have faced heightened attention since the Supreme Court ruled against the use of affirmative action to increase the representation of students of color. A complaint filed by Black and Latino community groups alleges that Harvard’s legacy preference discriminates based on race and unfairly benefits white applicants. The groups claim that legacy ties make students up to seven times more likely to be admitted and can constitute nearly a third of a class.

Harvard has been reviewing its admissions policies to ensure compliance with the law since the Supreme Court ruling. Some universities, such as Wesleyan University, have decided to end their legacy admissions policies, with Wesleyan President Michael Roth stating that legacy status played a negligible role and would now be eliminated entirely.

The investigation comes amid a broader reevaluation of admissions practices in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action. Legacy admissions policies, alongside factors like athletic recruitment and extracurricular credentials, have been identified as contributing to the advantage enjoyed by high-income students in the admissions process.

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