NEWS & ANALYSIS

Progressive Dems Introduce Bill to Ban University Admission Based on Legacy


Two progressive Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday that would ban universities from admitting students based on family legacy. 

Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced the legislation just over a week after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the consideration of racial diversity in college admission decisions, The Hill reports

Bowman and Merkley argued that basing acceptance on family legacy creates racial and economic inequality. 

“All students deserve an equitable opportunity to gain admission to institutions of higher education, but students whose parents didn’t attend or donate to a university are often overlooked in the admissions process due to the historically classist and racist legacy and donor admissions practices at many schools across the country,” Bowman said.

“Selecting applicants to universities based off of family names, connections, or the size of their bank accounts creates an unlevel playing field for students without those built-in advantages, especially impacting minority and first generation students,” Merkley said.

The legislation would ban universities participating in federal student aid programs from giving any advantage to students who have family members that previously attended the school or have donated money to the school. 

However, it would allow the Secretary of Education to waive the prohibition on legacy-based admissions for an award year to Historically black Colleges and Universities and schools that serve tribal communities or other minorities. Those institutions would have to prove that legacy admission is in the interest of historically underrepresented populations.