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  • Darryl Dennis, CEO, wire2net llc

Is Legacy An Iteration of Affirmative Action?

The October 2015 United States Supreme Court’s fall term of cases was recently announced. Sadly, the right is vehemently assaulting another challenge to an enlightened university’s admissions policy designed to facilitate a diverse student population! This case compels many to reflect on one of the courageous acts among many by legendary former Georgetown Coach John Thompson.

Upon the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopting as new policy, “Proposition 42”, Thompson vehemently protested this new policy and the anticipated negative impact on black athletes being accepted by institutions of higher education. Thompson articulated a viewpoint that often is overlooked during debates regarding adoption and/or continuation of affirmative action programs.

The basic premise of Thompson’s argument was once preference or inclusion of legacy students whose academic records are not on par with other applicants is eradicated or tempered then perhaps an earnest examination of affirmative action programs can commence.

Let’s examine the similarities, distinctions and complexities of these factual circumstances. Many legacy students are not ethnic minorities. Most legacies admitted applicants arguably lack a demonstrated academic record of achievement superior to many applicants who are denied admission. Why a distinction in treatment? Why such a stark difference in public outcry? Is this an example of the battle lines between the “Haves and The Have Not’s?” What is often overlooked is the student athlete has a unique skill, which is used to generate billions of dollars for these universities. Similarly, many legacy students’ relatives donate significantly to their alma maters in exchange for admitting their offspring and/or other relatives, and notwithstanding allegations of dubious academic credentials.

"Why a distinction in treatment? Why such a stark difference in public outcry? Is this an example of the battle lines between the “Haves and The Have Not’s?”

Many contend legacies perpetuate stereotypes that “being connected” are preferred rather than going from Good to Great in attaining academic excellence. I suggest the paradox unfolding here is the continued perpetuation of a “privilege social order structure”. Centuries have proven that access to education is the key to expanding opportunities for all classes of society.

Therefore, in the wake of massive urban police brutality in Baltimore, Ferguson, Long Island and elsewhere, as well as the Black Lives Matter awareness movement taken hold in the country, it would be prudent for the Supreme Court to recognize social justice necessitates a reasonable Court to act to extend these programs. Any other actions by the Court would paralyze our country and spin us into an abyss. Ignore the clarion call being blasted by the omnipresent Right to abolish Affirmative Action programs or even curtail them. I would submit to the Court, unless a contemporaneous effort is generated to stalwart legacy preferences, in military terms, I urge the Court to resist these dastardly efforts to marginalize millions of Americans!


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