University of Minnesota Twin Cities scraps legacy, race admissions

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The University says its decision was prompted by the Supreme Court’s June ruling on race-conscious admissions and annual review of undergraduate admission practice.
Alex Friedrich | MPR News 2012

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities will not consider race, family employment or attendance — so-called legacy status — in undergraduate student admissions. 

The University says the decisions are prompted by the Supreme Court’s June ruling on race-conscious admissions as well as its standard annual review of undergraduate admission practice. 

Eliminating race, family attendance and employment as context factors affects two out of the 10 context components admissions officers consider after examining primary academic aspects of a potential student’s application.

The University did not make anyone in its admissions department available for an interview on Wednesday.

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Carter Yost, who is the director of university student government and legislative affairs, said many students were concerned about how the changes might affect the diversity of the student body.

“Everyone benefits from a diverse student population. We’ve seen that on campus for the past years and years,” Yost said. “Taking conscious steps to recognize how someone’s identity might have contributed to their set of life experiences or restricted or prevented certain opportunities and closed certain doors or opened certain doors is a helpful, I think, net benefit for everyone.”

But he said he approved of the decision to eliminate family employment and attendance as context factors in admissions decisions. 

“Legacy admissions were an unnecessary and unfair leg-up, that had nothing to do with merit, or someone’s experiences,” Yost said.

“It’s a democratic society, and we try and avoid nepotism to the extent that we can. Legacy admissions — getting into a school because your dad went to the same school or because your parents have donated a large sum of money to build the library — isn't the same as having performed really well academically or having made a tremendous impact on your community or having withstood tremendous amounts of adversity and continuing to succeed and thrive and demonstrate excellence in other ways.”