Sen. Gounardes to ABC News: Legacy admissions preferences are "inherently wrong and unfair"

Originally published in ABC News on .
An image of the Cornell University campus.

New York could become the fourth state to ban legacy admissions in the college application process, a practice that has long been criticized as favoring white or wealthy students based on their familial alumni connections.

“Legacy admissions is simply affirmative action for privileged kids,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes in an interview with ABC News.

Legacy admissions have come under heightened scrutiny following the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision to limit race-based affirmative action programs for colleges and universities.

According to the websites of Columbia University, Harvard University, Cornell University, and others who embrace legacy admissions, if two applicants have similar credentials, the preference or slight advantage is given to the "legacy" candidate.

Several New York legislators hope the Fair College Admissions Act will address ongoing issues of racial inequality that have persisted for decades due to historical discrimination in education.

"It struck us as inherently wrong and unfair that the Supreme Court would strike down affirmative action policies and programs but allow something like legacy admissions to stay put, which is affirmative action just for another group of people," said Gounardes.

Research has shown that legacy applicants are admitted at higher rates, but are not more qualified or academically superior applicants. They are also a less racially diverse population.

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