The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
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Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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There continues to be an increase in Aggies working in D.C. The PPIP program at A&M is one instrumental program for students to shape their careers. (Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)
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More Aggies are calling Washington, D.C. home than ever with the aid of programs like the Public Policy Internship Program, or PPIP. The program...

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Sophomore DB Jacoby Mattews (2) and sophomore DB Sam McCall (16) attempt to stop LSU WR Malik Nabers during Texas A&Ms game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at Tiger Stadium (Katelynn Ivy/The Battalion)
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Members of Aggie Replant pick up trash at Aggie Park on Feb. 5, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Mayra Puga)
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Texas A&M professor Dr. Christina Belanger teaches her Geology 314 class on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in the Halbouty Geosciences Building. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Legacy policy reflects the real world

In a perfect world, college admissions would be based solely on an applicant’s academic ability and his ability to contribute to the university community. Admissions staffs would be oblivious to pressure from outsiders seeking racial quotas and immune to the desire of administrators to recruit students exclusively based on non-academic criteria.
In actuality, students aren’t recruited or admitted based only on their abilities, but are often targeted based on how well their demographics will diversify statistics. Texas A&M uses a list of factors when considering applicants, including extra-curricular activities, adversity overcome, uneducated parents and, until recently, relatives who were alumni.
On Jan. 9, in an attempt to reform these policies and after intense pressure from state legislators, University President Robert M. Gates eliminated a 15-year-old “legacy” policy that gave a slight advantage to children, grandchildren and siblings of alumni. This decision seems like a step toward equal opportunity, but in reality, it is a step toward an increasingly skewed admissions policy.
The A&M admissions policy groups those not admitted immediately under the top 10 percent rule and scores them on a 100-point scale, with different categories for test scores, class rank and even one giving up to six points if the applicant’s parents did not graduate high school, according to The Houston Chronicle. Applicants received four points for legacies. The removal of the legacy policy punishes alumni and their children as well as applicants who come from an educated home. Until all inequality is removed, the legacy policy should remain.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to remove all bias from admissions procedures. Students recruited for athletic scholarships and given preference based on prospective membership in the Corps of Cadets are just as much a product of favoritism in the admissions process as relatives of alumni.
A driving force behind legacy admissions is an alum’s potential financial support if their children are given an edge in the admissions process. With the recent cut in state budgets, universities statewide are leaning more on donations as a resource for funding.
Gates made it clear that no student was admitted completely based on a legacy, but the four points awarded to the student for legacy made the difference for 353 students in 2003 and 349 students in 2002, according to The Chronicle. Eliminating the potential advantage communicates to alumni and current students alike that while A&M wants their donations, it doesn’t want their children, regardless if that is the intent of the ruling or not.
A&M offers about 10,000 acceptance letters every year, but many of the applicants decline their acceptance. What admissions staffs must determine when deciding between two candidates is which one is more likely to choose to attend A&M. Not only does the declination of a qualified child of an alumnus upset the parent and threaten their financial support, but also weakens the Aggie community and potentially crushes a child’s lifelong dreams. While there is no way to measure an applicant’s genuine desire to attend A&M compared to the other schools to which they applied, the legacy admissions policy is a good indicator.
The almost obsessive insistence that A&M wants to diversify its population is evident in every recent press release and speech made by A&M administration. What administrators and the A&M University System Board of Regents may not want to accept is that A&M’s history, academic emphasis and social setting draw all types of students, but not necessarily in the same numbers.
There are numerous examples of minority students who feel welcome at A&M and enjoy their experiences, but the reason behind this is doubtfully because they were singled out as a minority as a desirable candidate for admission. The recent decision to exclude race as a factor in the admissions process was a sound one, but coupled with the insistence to recruit minority students and offer nothing to students of alumni seems equally discriminatory because most alums are white.
Similar legacy policies exist at most private schools across the country and several state-supported schools, such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Virginia. Other public schools may not have a formal policy of legacy admissions, but doubtlessly make allowances for children of substantial donors and those with ties to the university. While it might seem unjust to those who are not children of alumni, it nevertheless reflects the world of business and politics, and any assumption that connections don’t take people places is na??ve and idealistic.
Gates said in his Jan. 9 statement that the removal of the legacy points adds “consistency and equity” to the admissions policies, but the continued existence of other non-merit-based factors contradicts this.
Collegiate admissions policies will never be entirely impartial, and the decision to remove benefits for relatives of alumni only make the process more unbalanced.
-Sara Foley is a junior journalism major.

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