Law School Discussion

Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA

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Subject: Ouch!

Legacy Admissions are Stupid

By J.D. Porter

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 14, 2007


I like rich, academically incapable idiots as much as the next guy, but Iím beginning to wonder if Columbia should stop admitting so many of them. Iím speaking, obviously, of legacy students. Despite claiming to care about diversity, our school still gives them preference in admissions. For some reason people donít seem all that infuriated about this, even though the whole concept is about as fair as picking a deranged child to rule a nation because heís the firstborn. Well, the time has come to destroy that sickly child.


Legacy admissions initially came about because Ivy League administrators hated Jews. In the 1920s, they noticed that someone had been educating Jewish people, who were now better qualified for their schools than the traditional student body, the bored children of various industrial barons. Horrified, the people at Yale, for instance, decided that only someone whose dad had gone to Yale could truly understand Yale pride (like white pride, but richer), and legacy admissions were born. Since Jewish parents had mostly spent their college years in Lithuanian shtetls and disease-ridden tenements, the old order was restored.


Itís unclear why Yale somehow found legacy admissions more acceptable than simply announcing a formal policy of anti-Semitism, but there must have been a reason, because we at Columbia still find it acceptable today. Obviously our administrators arenít intentionally racist, but they do endorse a policy that tries to set racial diversity back at least one generation. Iím all for celebrating our heritage, but only if that heritage isnít appalling and stupid, like most of Americaís racial history. The Wall Street Journal estimates that 10 to 15 percent of Ivy League students are legacy students. Admitting about one-hundred-plus students a year based on an at-best twenty-year-old model of diversity is the academic equivalent of keeping separate drinking fountains just for old timesí sake.


Of course, we have to remember that in addition to being racist, classist, and probably misogynist, legacy admissions also contribute nothing to our educational experience. Itís tough to envision a scenario in which a class discussion pivots on one studentís explanation of what his dad thought when he was here. At least student athletes actually have to do something in exchange for admissions leniency, like kicking a ball, or rowing a paddle. This puts them far beyond the value, and probably skill set, of any legacy student.


The one viable argument for continuing legacy admissions is that legacy families are often big University donors. Those Jew-hating Yalies may have been unscrupulous, but they knew the importance of that crucial robber-baron dollar. The tenement kids might deserve to get in, but their sob-stories arenít going to buy any new science buildings. Columbia has to court the wealthy, even if they are mostly white guys. On the other hand, they might not all be white guys if we would stop with the legacy admissions.


Either way, the ďit makes moneyĒ argument is specious to begin with. You could apply the exact same rationale for selling arms to terrorists, but that doesnít mean Columbia should contact al Qaeda. Legacy admissions may not be punishable by international tribunal, but they are obviously wrong, and our need for money doesnít make them OK. We might as well drop the charade and just allow people to openly pay their way into the school. It wouldnít hurt to have a guarantee that those kids you hate had to fund your building maintenance. Every one I know wishes they would shut up and go away. People arenít qualified to do things on the basis of their parentsí skill sets. My dad was the top marksman in his class at West Point, but it would not be wise to choose me to defend America, or even a single American. Similarly, when we admit students because their parents were smart, we increase the chances of having dumb students on campus, and that ruins things for everyone.


Iím sure that not every legacy student is a privileged idiot gliding his way through college en route to an undeserved executive position in a major corporation. Some could even potentially be smart. Clearly Ivy League parents are more likely than average to send their kids to good schools. If thatís true, however, then legacy kids already have an advantage over others without us making it worse. In 2003, the Journal reported that legacy kids at Harvard had a 40 percent admission rate, compared to 11 percent for everyone else. Itís like Mike Tyson goes into the ring with a small child, and the Ivies are yelling ďItís not fair! That kid gets to use both hands!Ē

The utter ridiculousness of legacy admissions is not even really debatable. Itís a concept born out of racism and parochial fear, and it remains retrogressive in nearly every sense. It may cost us some money, but Columbia has an opportunity here to do something big and truly progressive. Oxford and Cambridge donít practice legacy admissions, and although it has lost them some funding, they havenít exactly become safety schools. If legacy kids deserve to go here, let them get in on their own. Otherwise, youíre not fooling anyone. Not even the dumb students.


J.D. Porter is a Columbia College senior majoring in English and comparative literature.


http://www.columbiaspectator.com/node/26636

UNAS

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2007, 02:55:41 PM »
Sounds like someone didnt get into law school.


The fact that he compares legacy admits to selling arms to al quaeda made me pee my pants a little.  The detriment of selling guns to al quaeda is people's lives, whereas the only detriment to schools who allow legacy admits is you piss off the bottom 5% of the prospective class who cant get in.

Whereas AA fuels racial tensions, legacy admits only fuel claims of nepotism, which our society sees as much less of a potential problem.

Its all about the almighty dollar and keeping your successful alumni base happy... some schools do it by paying 5 million dollars a year to hire new football coaches, some schools do it by letting children of alumni in.

PS - His anti-semitism argument is hilarious.

Are you trying to say that the gentleman who parents own a summer home two doors down from me in the dormitory and the culture clash that comes with my middle class background won't be a powdered keg in the making...if thats the case than you are right.

The article is meant for comedy not to be taken as my primary evidence in a AA debate

For all the opponents of AA, can you all please stop inflating the how negatively AA affects race relations. PArdon the redundancy but I have never seen such gross use of hyperbole

t...

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2007, 03:07:09 PM »
Legacy admits don't fuel racial (and social) tension?



t...

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2007, 03:56:56 PM »
That joint you're smoking supports terrorism.


Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2007, 05:25:04 PM »
I thought legacy admits to law schools are pretty much inexistent, am I wrong? 

t...

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2007, 06:17:04 PM »
Legacy admits don't fuel racial (and social) tension?




I, for one, feel tense. 

Yeah, I (sorta) wish I could sympathize.

Still stoked on "St. John's?"

t...

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2007, 06:24:08 PM »


The problem with AA supporters is that they keep wanting to ignore how negatively AA DOES affect race relations.  Just look around this board, and you can see what a problem it creates.  Anyone who's ever spent time talking to working class (or even middle-class) whites about this issue knows what a problem this is.  However, of course, this problem doesn't affect privileged whites, so they disregard it.

Strange.  It only seems to negatively affect race relations in threads you participate in.   

Also, race relations seem to be just fine at my school.  I guess there are no Lindberghs in attendance.

 :)



The unspoken side effect of AA is that the policy effectively weeds out the Lindbergh's from the class - those damned URM's take their spot.

:)

t...

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2007, 06:26:29 PM »
Legacy admits don't fuel racial (and social) tension?




I, for one, feel tense. 

Yeah, I (sorta) wish I could sympathize.

Still stoked on "St. John's?"

Not sure I understand that last reference. 

How's "Brooklyn Law School?"

OperaAttorney

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2007, 09:53:08 AM »
Brooklyn has a law school?

That's true.  People like Lindbergh get stuck at TTTs like Columbia. 

The word on the streets is that Lindbergh attends UVA. :)

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Why not ignore legacy admits and focus all our expendable energy on AA
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2007, 10:17:54 AM »


The problem with AA supporters is that they keep wanting to ignore how negatively AA DOES affect race relations.  Just look around this board, and you can see what a problem it creates.  Anyone who's ever spent time talking to working class (or even middle-class) whites about this issue knows what a problem this is.  However, of course, this problem doesn't affect privileged whites, so they disregard it.

Strange.  It only seems to negatively affect race relations in threads you participate in.   

Also, race relations seem to be just fine at my school.  I guess there are no Lindberghs in attendance.

 :)



The unspoken side effect of AA is that the policy effectively weeds out the Lindbergh's from the class - those damned URM's take their spot.

:)

Let's keep it real - the only racial tension that is created by AA is created by a particular group of whites (certainly not all whites) who feel that they are being deprived of yet another advantage that is either rightfully theirs or else nobody gets to use it at all.  The argument of making it on one's own merit is merely a pretext.  If the "AA" that is already currently available to these same white students were marketed and labeled in the same manner as AA currently is, they would quickly and quite consciously take advantage of it in order to "get into" law school and there would be no more discussion, and thus, no more racial tension.


As one of the white moderators posted about a year ago, the relevant question that whites must ask themselves is "would you accept AA if you had to remain a minority for the rest of your life?"

If the answer is "hell no since you put it that way" then you must concede that the only problem that you have with AA is that you can't personally use it to "get into" law school yourself. 

It should be noted that I use the term "get into" loosely because yet another major misconception about AA is that:
(i) it is an automatic pass that allows minorities to "get into" law school when they don't deserve it, and also that
(ii) it is actually allowing a superfluous amount of black and minority students to "get into" law school period.

When many of you actually do "get into" law school and are sitting there in your first year classes, you will look around for about 5 seconds and see just how ridiculous it was to argue about #(ii).  And for those of you who will be going on to Biglaw, you will immediately be able to see how ridiculous the contention of #(ii) is.

As one example, I will be starting next month for a Biglaw firm in NYC - out of the 150+ partners and associates, I will be the only black male in the entire firm.  All of my minority classmates have told me very similar stories whether they landed firm jobs, government jobs, public interest jobs, whatever - it doesn't matter.  Minorities still, in 2007, make up a very small amount of the legal profession.  So small, in fact, that you're practically guaranteed to be one of the only faces, if not THE only face, that looks like you wherever you go to practice.  Yet people still have the audacity to chastise AA despite this rather important fact.

And if you are among those who acknowledge that this fact exists and agree that it is unfortunate then many of us in this profession (both minority and non-minority) welcome any thoughts you have on how to improve the current system, but to allow it to cause racial tension is completely unnecessary and unwarranted if you are educated with the facts surrounding AA, minority enrollment, and minority representation in the legal profession.