There’s more to the story on legacies

To the Editor:

In “Legacies still maintain edge in admissions” (2/16), Hillary August makes claims about legacies and the process of admitting them to Yale. While I admire August’s attempt at writing a comprehensive article about legacy admissions, without mentioning a few aspects of the legacy issue, I find it far from complete.

The first deals with the University’s finances. Perhaps the greatest irony of the article was that it was accompanied on the front page by one heralding our ever-expanding endowment. However, in your legacy article you label “development kids” as students undeserving of being at Yale and only accepted because their parents give money to the University. Yet you fail to mention two key facts. First, if you abolish the practice of giving legacies even the slightest advantage in the admissions process, you will also take away a key motivation for alumni donations. And secondly, these donations are what allows Yale to have such an impressively comprehensive financial aid program.

The other point has to do with parenting and genes. Yale breeds more than scholars; it breeds men and women. Those alumni then go on to father/mother kids and instill in them the ideals that were cemented during their time in New Haven, the kind of ideals that would be desirable in a potential applicant. Also, if Yale continually accepts the best and brightest, it would make sense for those good genes to be passed down generations of families. Therefore, it should not surprise anybody that legacy applicants are as impressively qualified as their parents and peers.

The 30 percent acceptance rate of legacies is equal to that of the general applicant pools at schools such as Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins universities; this doesn’t make admission a sure thing. Legacies still needs to stack up favorably next to the general applicant pool to get accepted and often find more success in the Elm City than their first-generation Eli friends. My father, Lawrence, PC ’74, loved his time here and still talks glowingly about Yale. Though I am far from a “development kid,” I am not ashamed of being a legacy. I hope one day when I have a child that they, too, will attend Yale — if they’re qualified.

Scott Wexler ’07

Feb. 16, 2005