A Poor Legacy:
A&M admissions policy
EDITORIAL-Dallas Morning News
12:04 AM CST on Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Texas A&M last year admitted 312 white freshmen from families of A&M graduates –
freshmen who wouldn’t have gotten in otherwise. It’s a nod to a long-standing program that gives
additional consideration to the children, grandchildren or siblings of former A&M students.
this is the same public university that announced last month it wouldn’t consider the race of
applicants in its admission process, even though many schools, public and private, take race into
account among other academic and non-academic factors.
As state Rep. Garnet Coleman of
Houston put it, “If you want to go to A&M, it pays to be a legacy applicant rather than
While that isn’t the message A&M officials intend, it certainly is the message
they have delivered.
In abolishing race as an admissions consideration, A&M vowed to
increase minority outreach and to focus on attracting low-income and first-generation college students.
But to our mind, it is wildly inconsistent for the university to reject race as an admissions factor
and then to consider family DNA to be perfectly acceptable.
A&M officials say minority
applicants with ties to the A&M family are admitted at about the same rate as white applicants with
family ties to the school. But while that seems fair on paper, there is a disparate impact. Last year,
six blacks and 27 Hispanics – students who wouldn’t have been admitted if family members hadn’t
preceded them at A&M – got in under the legacy program. In contrast, family ties provided enough points
on the school’s admissions scale for nine times as many white candidates to be admitted who otherwise
wouldn’t have been accepted.
Universities that regard an applicant’s race as one of
many factors for admission would be justified to include family ties as well in their basket of
considerations. But now that A&M has removed race from its selection process, the school also should
jettison its legacy program, as other Texas public universities have done. If, as A&M officials
contend, most applicants don’t need legacy consideration to be admitted, then that’s yet another
reason to ditch the program.
Perception matters, and the legacy program at A&M leaves
the impression that the university isn’t serious about increasing its minority enrollment. It’s time
for the antiquated system to become history.