Virginia Bans Legacy Admissions in Public Universities and Colleges

Virginia will end legacy admissions at public universities after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill on Friday banning the practice that gives applicants with family ties to alumni a boost.

Under House Bill 48, public universities in the state will be barred from giving preferential treatment to applicants based on their connections to not only alumni but to donors as well. That means universities can also no longer give an advantage to applicants whose relatives make donations to the school. Critics of such preferences have said for years that the century-old practice perpetuates privilege.

The ban will notably affect the University of Virginia and William & Mary, which are among the country’s more selective public universities. Virginia Tech, another prestigious public university, already announced last year that it would no longer take an applicant’s legacy status into account in the admissions process.

The law, which passed unanimously in the Virginia House of Delegates and the State Senate this year, will take effect July 1, after admissions decisions have been made for this fall. Mr. Youngkin, a Republican, said in a statement in January that he believed “admission to Virginia’s universities and colleges should be based on merit.”

Virginia is the second state to ban legacy admissions, after Colorado, and similar legislation is being considered in New York and Connecticut, among others.

State Senator Schuyler T. VanValkenburg, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said he was pleasantly surprised by the bipartisan support for the ban. He said he hoped Virginia’s decision will lead other states to follow suit, which he said would help promote diversity in college admissions.

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