Harvard Faces New Civil Rights Complaint Challenging Legacy Admissions

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Reagan Reese Contributor
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An advocacy group filed a civil rights complaint Monday against Harvard University alleging that the institution’s use of legacy admissions, a mechanism by which children of alumni get preferential treatment within the admissions process, discriminates against applicants of color.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a nonprofit organization based in Boston, filed its civil rights complaint to the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that the university’s legacy admissions system does not weigh merit and takes acceptance spots away from students of color. The civil rights complaint comes after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Harvard University’s affirmative action admissions policies are unconstitutional. (RELATED: Universities Consider New Rankings To Skirt SCOTUS Ruling On Race-Based Admissions)

“Why are we rewarding children for privileges and advantages accrued by prior generations?” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, told The Associated Press. “Your family’s last name and the size of your bank account are not a measure of merit, and should have no bearing on the college admissions process.”

The complaint alleges that 70% of Harvard University’s legacy and donor-related applicants are white students and that Harvard legacy applicants are six times more likely to be admitted into the institution.

The complaint claims that more students of color would be admitted to the university if legacy admissions were axed.

Demonstrators gather in support of affirmative action at the Supreme Court on Oct. 31, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Demonstrators gather in support of affirmative action at the Supreme Court on Oct. 31, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court made the decision to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, which had allowed higher education institutions to weigh race as a determining factor in the admissions process. Following the Court’s decision, Harvard University suggested that it will use applicant essays in order to continue to weigh students’ race.

“Last week, the University reaffirmed its commitment to the fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences,” the university told the AP. “As we said, in the weeks and months ahead, the University will determine how to preserve our essential values, consistent with the Court’s new precedent.”

Harvard University and the Lawyers for Civil Rights did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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