Colleges are ending legacy admissions following SCOTUS affirmative action decision

Carleton College recently announced it would stop legacy status considerations for applicants, joining numerous other schools to ban the practice after affirmative action was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Campus Reform has covered many other instances of schools ending legacy admissions accompanied by a statement of commitment to DEI principles.

In what appears to be an ongoing trend to accommodate the lack of affirmative action ever since the Supreme Court ruled against race-based admissions practices in June, institutions are targeting legacy admissions.

On Aug. 31, Carleton College in Minnesota became one of the latest colleges to announce it would end legacy status considerations for applicants, citing its own Community Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity.

”The June Supreme Court decision eliminating the use of race in the college admissions process has turned a spotlight on other aspects of the admissions process,” President Alison Byerly said in a statement.

[RELATED: Dept. of Education investigates Harvard legacy admissions for alleged civil rights violations]

“Our Community Plan for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity states a goal of increasing representation of historically underserved students at Carleton,” Byerly states. “The strategic plan that we are in the process of drafting now outlines strategies for improving access for students from a range of backgrounds, including first-generation students and students with high levels of financial need.”

“We believe that our goal of expanding access makes this the right time to discontinue legacy preference,” she also notes.

Dan Callahan, an alumnus of Carleton, applauded the school’s policy change in a statement to Campus Reform.

“I greatly appreciated Carleton’s efforts to attract a diverse student body,” he said. “The exposure to folks from backgrounds so different from my own was an education itself, and I hope the college will be able to fulfill its vision for a diverse and inclusive campus in the future.”

Carleton’s decision follows those of other schools that Campus Reform has covered for terminating legacy admissions since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on June 29, such as Wesleyan University, Occidental College, and the University of Minnesota. Each school has affirmed its commitment to some form of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles in each instance.

According to a 2022 report from Education Reform Now — published months prior to the Supreme Court declaring affirmative action unconstitutional the following June — over 100 colleges and universities had ended legacy admissions practices since 2015. This included Amherst College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Florida.

Before the Supreme Court decided it would even rule on a case deciding the constitutionality of affirmative action, Colorado gained major attention in late May 2021 when it became the first state to effectively end legacy admissions for public colleges.

In an op-ed for The Colorado Sun in March 2021, bill sponsors and state lawmakers Brittany Pettersen and Kyle Mullica wrote that granting admissions preferences to legacy applicants “is discriminatory in nature and is a concrete example of systemic inequity.”

“Giving preferential treatment to students who have family connections to an institution hurts students who are first generation, immigrants – both documented and undocumented – and students from systemically marginalized communities who may not have had the ability to form family connections to higher education institutions,” they suggested.

[RELATED: ANALYSIS: The battle over affirmative action is just beginning]

In August, Campus Reform reported that Congressional Democrats have pushed more aggressively to ban legacy admissions nationwide after the fall of affirmative action.

In reintroducing the Fair College Admissions for Students Act, New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman said, “Legacy admissions disproportionately benefit wealthy, white, and connected students and have racist, antisemitic, and anti-immigrant roots.”

Campus Reform has contacted Carleton College for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.