Landmark Court Ruling Fuels Concerns Over Legacy Admissions

AAJA JCamp
2 min readJul 28, 2023

By James Rhee, JCamp 2023 — Washington D.C.

The groundbreaking U.S.ruling to strike down Affirmative Action has brought the role of legacy admissions into the national spotlight.

Just six blocks from the Supreme Court, several tourists and street vendors said they believe last month’s decision focused on the wrong policy. To them, the real issue is the practice of many universities prioritizing children of their alumni in the selection process.

“By keeping race based Affirmative Action, it allows them [colleges] to have a population that is not just white people, but a magnitude of people from different backgrounds,” said a young Asian female standing in-line for a treat from a local food truck. “If you truly want to tackle race issues in Affirmative Action, we need to look at legacy based admissions.”

The debate over inequity of college admissions has intensified since June 23, when the Supreme Court ruled that the use of Affirmative Action at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University was unconstitutional, therefore inhibiting both public and private universities from considering race during their admissions processes.

Some street-goers who were in favor of the court’s decision said that Affirmative Action created inequity in the college application process.

“Legacy does not matter. Gender does not matter. Race does not matter. None of it matters,” said a 23-year-old African American male. “The United States advertises itself as a place of opportunity, so when you hear something like Affirmative Action it’s kind of like false advertising.”

Despite differences in opinion on Affirmative Action, many find common ground against legacy admissions. According to the Columbia Undergraduate Law Review, legacies applying to Harvard University had a 33% acceptance rate, of which 70% of those admitted were white.

“Who your grandparents are or what your parents did does not mean that you have the same intelligence or character,” said an African American employee at the Smithsonian of American History.

When asked about the impact of the ruling, an African American female, standing on the sidewalk said, “I think it [the Supreme Courts’ ruling] will definitely change how colleges approach admissions forever.”

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AAJA JCamp

AAJA’s national multicultural journalism program for high school students