Harvard's new legacy

Harvard University is facing an affirmative action lawsuit based upon their admission processes, and things are not looking good.

A study, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that 43 percent of white students admitted to Harvard were recruited athletes, legacy students, children of faculty and staff, or on the dean’s interest list — applicants whose parents or relatives have donated to Harvard.

Only 16 percent of black, Latino and Asian American students come from these categories.

Even more damning, the study also found that roughly 75 percent of the white students admitted from those four categories, labeled 'ALDCs' in the study, “would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs.”

In other words, three quarters of the students at Harvard who were admitted because they play a sport well or because their parents attended Harvard, donate to Harvard, or work at Harvard don’t really belong at Harvard. Someone more deserving - and probably less white - should be attending the university in their place.

This is appalling.

The next time you meet a Harvard graduate - and especially a white Harvard graduate - you can probably discount their achievement by at least 33% (75% of 43%).

Let’s be clear:

I happen to know several Harvard graduates who were more than deserving of attending the university, so I don’t mean to disparage the student body as a whole. Nor do I mean to imply that these folks don’t deserve all of the accolades that they receive for gaining admission and successfully navigating that prestigious institution.

But I have also spent more than two decades in education, watching affluent parents who understand how systems work and where the opportunities for influence lie bestow advantages upon their children that other equally capable, oftentimes harder working children do not possess.

And it enrages me.

We like to claim that America is a meritocracy, and on its best days, perhaps that’s true. After all, I managed to claw my way from homeless, poverty, and a possible prison sentence to where I am today without any assistance from my family or any financial backing. I worked incredibly hard for a long time, forgoing many other things, in order to achieve my goals.

But I am also a white, straight, healthy, relatively intelligent American man who is not battling addiction or mental illness. Even when I was homeless and hungry, I was still one of the most advantaged people on the planet. I never faced the obstacles and systemic discrimination that women, people of color, the disabled, the chronically ill, and members of the LGBTQ community face.

And I live in the United States, one of the most prosperous, free nations on the planet.

You should probably discount my achievements by at least 33%, too. Maybe a lot more.

My advantages were extraordinary.

But at least my advantages were my own, granted to me by fate and good fortune. My advantages did not come at the expense of another human being. But advantages to Harvard confers upon these students are systematic, racist, and governed by the desire to generate revenue for the university at the expense of deserving students.

I didn’t rely on Mommy and Daddy’s checkbook or their good name to gain me entrance into one of the most prestigious institutions in the land. And I didn’t steal someone else’s rightful place in the process.

If this data that this study presents is accurate, Harvard is a lot less prestigious today, and rightfully so.