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A(verse) to Legacy Admissions

Rhyme and Reason

By Mireya Sánchez-Maes, Crimson Opinion Writer
Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Rhyme and Reason” appears on alternate Mondays.

Welcome back dear reader
I’m about to spill some tea
And reveal a juicy secret
‘Bout that prized Harvard degree.

People tend to wonder
How to get into this school
But what you may not know
Is that it’s not an equal pool!

We students like to think that
We all got here based on merit,
But many have advantages
That they simply inherit.

So if you want to earn a spot
In next year’s Harvard class,
Read these simple steps
And you’ll be sure to get in fast.

Step one: be a legacy
That can help you win!
If mom and dad both went here,
You’re more likely to get in.

Meritocracy’s a myth and
Hard work doesn’t mean admission
But a relative or two
Can help you pass the competition.

How much does it help, you ask?
Well research makes it clear
You’re six times more likely to get in
Than non-legacy peers.

Of course that’s only “one of
>Many factors” in the call,
But I, dear reader, think it
Shouldn’t factor in at all.

Legacy admissions
Have been used by Harvard plenty
But the practice started long ago
Way back in 1920.

Back then, rich fancy colleges
Were wary of the news
That spots were being taken up

By Catholics and Jews

So wealthy Anglo-Protestants
Made the quick decision
To use a person’s lineage
To help promote division.

Since most of their alumni
Were still Protestant and white,
Preferencing their children
Kept all others out of sight.

So though it’s likely not a new
Or shocking revelation,
Legacy admission
Was meant for discrimination!

Even now, despite much time,
Recent data states,
White legacy applicants
Exist at higher rates!

One recent study found two-fifths
Of white kids at this school
Were sports recruits, legacies,
Or kids of staff. Not cool!

And, in that statistic, too,
There’s one more I forgot:
If your folks are donors, then
That really ups your shot.

“But wait,” you counter, “Surely now,
The process has improved.
Having Harvard parents
Doesn’t mean you’re just approved!”

While having family preference
Doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed,
It does give folks a boost
That many simply just don’t need.

Children of alumni
Tend to be a privileged crowd
Connections, schools, and money
Leave them rather well endowed.

Growing up with privilege
Means you’ve got a big leg up
‘Cause you can access knowledge
And alums who know what’s up.

So why give more advantage to
The kids who, from the start,
Have odds stacked in their favor?
That really isn’t smart.

Other elite schools have
Come to similar conclusions.
Johns Hopkins and Amherst
Did away with such exclusions!

Harvard needs to get on board
And quickly make a switch,
For legacy admissions
Mainly help the white and rich.

So what is holding Harvard back?
Why have they clung so long?
Dear reader, it was money
And donations all along.

Many schools have argued
That a slight legacy preference
Will increase gross donations.
But for this, I have no deference!

Research indicates that
Correlation here is low,
A strong legacy preference
Doesn’t always mean more dough.

Another common argument
That colleges will lend,
Is that legacy admits
Are more likely to attend.

This is known as “yield”
In the college industry.
It helps schools in their rankings
But that all seems moot to me.

Harvard’s clout is such that
Students will choose to attend
No matter who their parents are —
It’s not hard to comprehend.

Now, before I leave you,
It’s important to address
The SFFA lawsuit
Which has occupied the press.

Folks like Clarence Thomas
Have asserted the position
That strong legacy preference can
Pollute college admission.

But in these conversations
Thomas also tends to add
That race conscious admissions
Can be similarly bad.

Although these practices get grouped,
They’re not at all the same.
They both serve different purposes
That I’ll proceed to name.

Race conscious admissions
Aims to redress racial bias
That exists within a system
And is clearly far from pious.

Race conscious admissions
Make a college more diverse,
But legacy admissions tend
To do just the reverse.

One process helps remedy
A bias that persists.
The other one exacerbates
White privilege that exists.

So yeah, I hope by now I’ve
Been real clear ‘bout my position.
Harvard, it’s high time we ditched the
Legacy admission.

Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Rhyme and Reason” appears on alternate Mondays.

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