Minnesota should end legacy admissions to public colleges

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled — quite rightly — against race-based affirmative action in college admissions. It was an important step towards making college admissions fairer. There remains, however, more to be done on that front and a bill currently under consideration in St. Paul would see our state take another step towards fairer college admissions.

SF 4400, authored by Senators Oumou Verbeten (DFL) and Fateh (DFL), would, MPR News reports:

…prohibit Minnesota colleges and universities from considering a person’s legacy status or relationship to a donor in admissions. An individual is considered “legacy” if their family members are alumnus of the school they are applying to.

“Admission decisions should be based on merit and academic achievement, not who’s in your family and certainly not based on how much money your family has donated to a university,” said Oumou Verbeten, speaking in the state Senate higher education committee.

And so say all of us. If you are going to argue against race-based admissions policies on the grounds that university admissions should be based, as Sen. Oumou Verbeten rightly says, “on merit and academic achievement,” you really ought to argue against the consideration of other factors over which the applicant has no control, like who their relatives are. Conservatives should note that Virginia Governor. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill this week banning consideration of legacy in public university admissions.

The measure may be largely symbolic. MPR News reports:

Most Minnesota colleges and universities report they already do not consider legacy or donor connections in admissions. MPR News confirmed they are not factors at the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, Augsburg University, Bethel University, Gustavus Adolphus College, the University of St. Thomas and in the Minnesota State system.

There are quibbles. MPR News reports that “The proposed bill would apply to both private and public colleges in Minnesota.” Private colleges ought to be allowed to set their own admissions policies: If they’d rather accept a rich dimwit over a smart kid from a low income family, more fool them.

This can be ironed out in committee. Overall, this is a bill that all political stripes should be able to get behind.