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Feds agree to look into whether all the Dorfmans at Harvard represent unfair discrimination

Local civil-rights groups said tonight that the federal Department of Education has agreed to investigate their claim that Harvard's continued preference for "legacy" admissions of primarily white applicants violates the rights of Hispanic and Black applicants whose parents or other relatives didn't go to the school or donate large amounts of money to it.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, representing the Chica Project, the African Community Economic Development of New England, and the Greater Boston Latino Network filed a civil-rights complaint following the Supreme Court's decision that Harvard's use of affirmative-action criteria in admissions was unconstitutional.

Donor-related applicants are nearly 7 times more likely to be admitted than non-donor-related applicants, and legacies are nearly 6 times more likely to be admitted.

Kent Dorfman, legacy.

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Comments

There is something so limiting for youth and empowering for Harvard, the original WASP School in the idea that going to Harvard is success. The world is littered with the near do well or wicked alums like slum lord Jared Kushner. Unless Harvard has a program that a student really needs to be in for research or craft, you are more likely to get into The Venice Biennial from a State Art School than from Harvard. there are so many options out there. I'm inner city Immigrant background, spent a year in a grad internship at Columbia. It was stifling, one of the most uninspiring educational experiences of my life. I wish I had gone to Hunter. The imposter syndrome follows me, sure you got there but it was race/ age/ sex/ disability blah, blah, blah, it doesn't serve. we will never have inclusion until everybody stops wanting to SO white I this country.

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Liked the "Animal House" reference!

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Dartmouth.

(okay, not by name in the movie, but it's Dartmouth)

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I don't think the Supreme Court should have made the decision they made but I also agree that legacy and donor admissions should be removed at the most elite schools. All schools that supported keeping race based admissions should eliminate legacy admissions as a show of good faith. It's definitely hypocrisy to stand up and shout you want equality while also giving those who already have advantages a boost. That makes non upper wager earners who don't qualify for race based admissions bitter , even if they had no academic chance of getting a slot.

Let's face it if you had a family lineage of Harvard graduates and you can't manage to get yourself in under normal conditions, maybe you didn't deserve to go. Same goes for donor based admissions, if daddy can just build a sports complex for a big school then maybe you should have enough resources to properly get yourself into the school through academics.

I have a little more sympathy for smaller schools with more limited budgets because without those donors maybe there wouldn't be those nice things... But I think we can all agree that with it's endowment and assets Harvard could thrive for hundreds of years even if it never raised another penny. I don't see how these top schools could possibly use that argument when we already give them so much.

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It's definitely hypocrisy to stand up and shout you want equality while also giving those who already have advantages a boost.

If a university can get more money from one family and use that money to give more student aid and/or improve the experience for many other people, isn't that worth it?

If anything, there should be more overt pay to play. If a wealthy family agrees to build a building, fund important research, or give $$$ to student aid their kid gets an automatic seat in the 1st year class, no application needed. Might as well advertise that policy instead of a normal wink and nod.

I'd rather colleges get the money outright instead of buying the fencing coach a new house.

Anyway, all this discussion of legacy admissions only applies to a very small number of colleges. (Granted, many are in Boston.) At 95% of colleges in the US, it's not that hard to get accepted if you didn't slack off too much in High School. The hard part is paying for college and that's where legacy admissions can actually help the less fortunate students.

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Would be for Harvard to have 10 legacy admission slots per year, available to the highest bidder. Minimum opening bid: $10 million. Be very open about the process (but keep a secret who got in because of it).

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Hell, the first one to get to 100k, the kid gets an automatic diploma! Standards and rigor are for the proles, these kids are landing softly in their dad's squash partner's finance firm no matter what so let's just milk them dry while we can.

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And why limit it to 10?

If Harvard really wanted to do something special, make an offer where if you donate $10m to a struggling US school system, your kid gets a seat without an application.

For less money, your legacy admission student to Harvard gets paired up with a less well off high school student elsewhere in the US. The Harvard student's family agrees to cover the full tuition + expenses for whatever college that other student gets accepted into and wants to attend.

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Just like it seems everyone knew about Kushner.

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...I do have a family lineage of Harvard graduates: both parents (if you count Radcliffe as Harvard), two uncles, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. My mother's family are old New England Yankees going back to 1640, when the first of them settled in Dedham. In my great grandfather's day, Harvard was just another New England college, and pretty much anyone who could pay his way could get in.

My father, however, was from the deep South, and went to Harvard on the G.I.Bill. In those days James Bryant Conant, Harvard's President, had the idea that students with exceptional academic potential should be able to go to Harvard regardless of background.

Today, I get the impression that Harvard has become more mercenary, and now selects students whom it thinks will be able to earn lots of money, some of which they will give or leave to Harvard. In other words, Harvard has sold its soul.

I did not have that impression back in the seventies, when I was there as a student.

Objectively, the only difference between Harvard and any other university is that Harvard has lots of money and can afford to hire world class faculty and maintain one of the largest library systems in the world. The quality of teaching there was never anything to write home about in my day, and it was all too common to find that your professor couldn't communicate effectively with anyone below a Ph.D. level.

Harvard wants to be Asimov's First Foundation, but, unfortunately, it's too intimately bound to the civilization that spawned it. When that civilization collapses, Harvard's libraries will fare no better than the library at Alexandria did, or the myriad priceless examples of medieval literature that were lost when Henry VIII suppressed the English monasteries.

No child of mine will attend Harvard. I am the last of my line; apres moi, le deluge.

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Objectively, the only difference between Harvard and any other university is that Harvard has lots of money and can afford to hire world class faculty and maintain one of the largest library systems in the world.

Harvard's faculty are not any better than that of most research universities. It's just that when a grant application arrives on Harvard letterhead it automatically moves to the short pile. Harvard pays about the same as other large private colleges but the faculty can cash in their affiliation to supplement their income.

In my experience most Harvard students are actually pretty level headed, friendly, and don't act particularly entitled. It's the faculty who tend to be the problems.

Edit: And regarding Harvard's library... Those people can go F themselves. The fact they won't allow outsiders into the building is far more infuriating than legacy admissions. Thankfully MIT takes the opposite approach. Awesome librarians.

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I remember that policy being suspended because of Covid.

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As to

Harvard pays about the same as other large private colleges

Harvard underpays almost everyone except the superstars.

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>> I did not have that impression back in the seventies, when I was
>> there as a student.

I was there from 1970 through 1974. There was a perceptible shift in the make up of the entering classes between the time I started and the time I finished.

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By the time I got there, the Vietnam war was over and the demonstrations of 1969 were regarded as ancient history. There was a significant minority presence, but the black students I knew found Harvard's culture very foreign and tended to band together. There were also white working class students; one kid I knew was from East Boston. There were a fair number of foreign students, too; I met people from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.

Charlie Baker was in my class, but I never knew him.

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I don't expect this complaint to go far. First of all, it's grounded on the theory of "systemic racism" where it's racism even if there is no racist intent at all, just an outcome that has racial disparities. Since practically EVERY outcome for every circumstance has racial disparities, this is a weak position. It's not like the children of wealthy black alumni are getting rejected by Harvard. There are just statistically fewer black alumni compared to white alumni in the pool.

Second, the DOE as it's established today is a piece of junk especially when it comes to regulating higher education. They're not going to get Harvard to change its admissions policies. They're not even going to give it a Harvard try.

The case most likely to trigger change is Carbone v Brown which goes after legacy admissions in financial grounds. Colleges enjoy an antitrust exemption dependent on their charitable mission and the fact that their admissions are need-blind. However, legacy admissions are clearly not need-blind, because the underlying goal of the legacy admissions is attracting funding from wealthy alumni and donors. Alumni and outside donors give money to help their kids and grandkids get in. If alumni were poor and not in a position to donate money, then legacy admissions wouldn't be a thing.

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I don't expect this complaint to go far. First of all, it's grounded on the theory of "systemic racism" where it's racism even if there is no racist intent at all, just an outcome that has racial disparities. Since practically EVERY outcome for every circumstance has racial disparities, this is a weak position.

It’s a strong position that you don’t agree with.

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the theory of "systemic racism" where it's racism even if there is no racist intent at all, just an outcome that has racial disparities.

Bzzzt. Definition incorrect. Do some research and try again.

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It's all good fun until it's your ox that gets gored

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The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a "Harvard man" is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

April 23, 1935
John F. Kennedy

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He was honest, modest, and succinct. He answered the question but didn't write pages of drivel about how great Harvard was, or how he was an ideal candidate. He didn't explain what he could do for Harvard rather than what Harvard could do for him; that kind of thinking would come later. And perhaps we should give Harvard some credit for that.

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In those days, Harvard was Yankee, Protestant, and Republican. Most Irish Catholics didn't want to be caught dead there.

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Lots of Harvard graduates go into public service and therefore forego careers that would make them extremely rich. And there are many non-white Harvard graduates. Eliminating legacy admissions would only truly hurt middle class alumni who go into public service and non-white alumni. It would perversely incentivize students to just chase high-earning jobs rather than go into public service. The extremely rich will be fine no matter what.

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I was a legacy admission, but my family didn't have any money to speak of. This was 1975, and I doubt I'd get in today.

The kid whose family gave Harvard a couple hundred million dollars is going to get in, regardless of any policy, because no bureaucrat in the admissions office is going to want to risk pissing off a wealthy donor.

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So even though Harvard may not be amazing academically I thought the advantage of going to Harvard was you were then part of an exclusive network similar to students that went to Milton Academy. So if we are going to restrict who is admitted to Harvard should't we also start regulating who gets hired by the big paying businesses that Harvard feeds into as that's where the significant benefit is seen?

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Harvard affirmatively admits some kids out of the Cambridge and Boston public and other schools.

This is their way of doing something for their host cities in lieu of the property taxes they are exempt from as a charity with a $50 billion endowment.

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