On Nov. 14, the school released an annual diversity report to “understand demographic diversity at the Kennedy School and see where we need to improve,” according to Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf. In doing so, he pledged to create a diversity task force of faculty, staff, and students to increase the demographic diversity of the student body.
To support students, the Kennedy School plans to address students’ concerns about the lack of need-based application fee waivers and emergency financial aid. The school is the only Harvard school besides the extension school that did not provide need-based application fee waivers. So, in February, First-Generation and Low-Income Caucus students penned a letter to Elmendorf suggesting that many other students “probably did not apply” because of the fee application.
“If HKS truly cares about diversifying its class, the very least it can do is implement a clear, streamlined process for getting fee waivers, if not waiving them for low-income and FLI students altogether as other universities have done,” the letter reads.
In the case brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina by Students for Fair Admissions, judges ruled that Harvard’s information about the “legacy status, athletic status, financial aid eligibility and race is disclosed to the admissions committee at the last stage of the decision-making process,” the Washington Post reported.
But the tradition of “legacy” college admissions came under increased scrutiny after the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling. In July, the United States Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation into legacy admissions at Harvard University, which sparked debate over the long-standing practice, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported. The federal government wanted to examine if legal admissions create an unfair playing field for prospective students. Since then, Harvard has taken critical measures to its admissions policies.
According to University President Claudine Gay, the call to end the use of legacy and donor preference is on the table.
“There’s no birthright to Harvard. As the Supreme Court recently noted, ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ There should be no way to identify who your parents are in the college application process,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, previously said in a statement.
Source: Black Enterprise