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Sign the petition: End unfair “legacy” admissions

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer – a chance for our kids to learn the skills to follow their dreams. But let's be honest, education can't be an equalizer if there are biases in the system that favor already advantaged students.

I saw these biases firsthand as a blue-collar kid who, by virtue of talent in math, was miraculously admitted to a rigorous school: Stanford.

Upon arriving at Stanford's campus, I realized that my dormmates came from a different world. They came from affluent families whose parents had gone to college. They had been raised in a culture that discussed college options from the time they could talk. Many had attended private schools or benefited from summer academic enrichment programs, SAT preparation classes, and tutors who assisted with their college essays.

And in many college admission offices across the country, students from similarly privileged backgrounds had another big advantage – a large chunk of the positions were reserved for the children of alumni and major donors.

That's unacceptable. Sign my petition to end inequitable "legacy admission" practices.

Having seen all of these advantages available to students from affluent, mostly white families, I have always thought that it was a stride toward equity when colleges made an effort to admit students who came from less advantaged backgrounds, including students who came from dismal financial circumstances or from minority communities subject to systemic racism – let's stir the pot a little. In addition to a stride toward equity, I thought that all members of the incoming student class would benefit from diversity that brings broader set of backgrounds and perspectives into the classroom and into the dorms.

But the Supreme Court, dominated by rich white guys, sees it differently. They ruled against the right of colleges to stir the pot and admit students with more diverse backgrounds.

The conservative majority on the court prohibited race-based affirmative action in college admission decisions, despite our nation's long history of racial discrimination and continuing racial disparities.

But what about the more significant discrimination in admissions? The large number of positions that colleges reserve for wealthy, mostly white students because their parents are alumni or major donors? The court didn't breathe a word about that.

Thus, so-called "legacy applicants" – children of alumni or donors – still get a leg up in the admission process at most selective colleges. This is completely backwards: the Court's decision not only prevents colleges from addressing past injustices, but actually approves of perpetuating those injustices.

That's why Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York and I have introduced the Fair College Admission for Students Act to counter donor and legacy favoritism in college admissions. Today I'm asking you to sign your name to show your support for ending legacy admission.

We know that diversity on campuses enriches education for everyone and helps our country counter the injustices that flow from systemic racial discrimination.

But instead of championing diversity, the Supreme Court took a system that was already stacked against poorer and underprivileged students – and made it even worse.

We have to fix it.

The Fair College Admission for Students Act will prohibit admission offices from giving preferential treatment to applicants just because their parents are alumni or big donors.

Can I count on you to sign your name in support of making higher education more equitable for all?

Education is a source of opportunity, and here in the United States – the land of opportunity – access to education has never been equal or fair. But now, with SCOTUS placing a thumb on the scale to favor the wealthy and connected, I am fighting back. Together, we can make education more accessible and equitable.



Posted on July 25, 2023.

Born in the small town of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, Jeff Merkley has never lost touch with his working class roots.

As a U.S. Senator, he works every day to create opportunity for working families, stop the corruption of our democracy, and tackle the climate crisis.

A workhorse and a progressive champion, Jeff Merkley is leading a movement to get our country back on track.

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