In a recent article, Grace Farr ’24 contends that Dartmouth should not succumb to external pressures by moving away from legacy admissions, citing potential consequences for diversity and college tradition. While I acknowledge that the overarching debate regarding whether Dartmouth should preserve legacy admissions or not is contentious, some comments and arguments about the outcomes of legacy admissions warrant objection and clarification.
The idea that moving away from legacy admissions will adversely affect diversity and inclusion is flawed, especially at a school like Dartmouth. Calling the relationship between legacy and diversity “symbiotic” is idealistic at best, owing to the fact that a distinct majority of legacy admits are disproportionately white and affluent. Nearly 19% of Harvard’s white students in its Class of 2025 reported legacy status, compared to merely 6.1% of Black students.
Research by Education Reform Now — an education think-tank — also found that more white legacy students have been admitted to elite colleges than Black or Latino students benefiting from affirmative action. At Dartmouth, a school where there are nearly as many legacy admits as foreign citizens — 11% legacy admits compared to 14% international students in the Class of 2027 — we still have a long way to go when it comes to making our campus more diverse.
Additionally, legacy admissions and “preserving traditions” are not necessarily linked. As Farr’s article states, “all Dartmouth students, past and present, contribute to Dartmouth’s culture.” Removing legacy admissions will not impact Dartmouth’s core traditions and cultural growth. If Dartmouth were to accept fewer legacy students, quintessential Dartmouth experiences would still exist.
Over the past decade, Dartmouth has made remarkable strides in diversifying its student body by accepting students from more diverse backgrounds, countries and identities. While it is integral to recognize the holistic benefits of legacy admissions, such as drawing crucial endowment donations and strong alumni networks, should Dartmouth keep it to bolster diversity and equity? Probably not.