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Wesleyan University ends legacy admissions. How common is it?

Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University announced Wednesday that the institution will end legacy admissions — a decision that comes nearly three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admissions were unconstitutional.

In a posted statement, University President Michael Roth said an applicant’s family connections have played a “negligible” role in admissions for years. Four percent of the 2,280 admitted students in the Class of 2027 “have a Wesleyan parent,” the school reported on its website.

The university has reported about 7% or 8% of first year students have been children of alumni over the previous five years.

“An applicant’s connection to a Wesleyan graduate indicates little about that applicant’s ability to succeed at the University, meaning that legacy status has played a negligible role in our admission process for many years,” Roth wrote on the university’s blog. “Nevertheless, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action, we believe it important to formally end admission preference for ‘legacy applicants.’ We still value the ongoing relationships that come from multi-generational Wesleyan attendance, but there will be no ‘bump’ in the selection process.”

Roth added that the university has “never fixated on a checked box indicating a student’s racial identification or family affiliations,” and that the higher education institution vows to continue to improve its diversity, improve its scholarship efforts to make the school more financially feasible and expand its community-based organizations.

“As a highly selective university, Wesleyan University seeks exceptional students from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances who will thrive in and enrich the Wesleyan community,” Roth said.

Wesleyan enrolls about 3,000 full-time undergraduates, with 32% of its student body identifying as students of color. The university’s acceptance rate is around 19%.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June, universities and colleges across Connecticut have vowed to protect diversity and opportunities for students of color.

At the time of the decision, Roth and Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, said they were “determined to create a diverse community, and our admission and financial aid teams have been preparing over the last several months to craft policies that will do that.”

At UConn, Vern Granger, director of undergraduate admissions, has said his department has considered race and ethnicity as one of many factors in their applications process, though he noted that “race is not the sole determinant.” He said UConn will adhere to the law, but added that he will keep holding conversations with students and others, as he has throughout the year, to help minimize any effects from the court’s decision.

The university does not have a legacy admissions process.

Yale University President Peter Salovey also said last month that he strongly disagreed with the court’s ruling but noted that Yale will comply with the law. Salovey said university leaders would review all of their admissions policies and that Yale Law School will hold a panel discussion among legal experts for students and staff in September to talk about the ramifications of the ruling.

University officials weren’t immediately available for comment Wednesday on the institution’s legacy admissions.

Yale has reported a 12% legacy affiliation for its Class of 2023 and a 14% legacy affiliation for the Class of 2025.

Launched in 2010, The Connecticut Mirror specializes in in-depth news and reporting on public policy, government and politics. CT Mirror is nonprofit, non-partisan, and digital only.