Legacies prevent campus diversity

As the saying goes, “Everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.” It’s an unfair fact of life, but for the most part, it’s who you know, not what you know (or how qualified you are) that will open doors for you in life.

Students whose family members graduated from a college stand a significantly greater chance of gaining acceptance into that particular college than those who have no connection. Some colleges, like St. Mary’s in South Bend, Ind., actually have “alumni applications.” These are special applications that each alumnus is allowed to give to select students whom he or she would like to help get into the university.

In some ways, Little Wildcat Weekend can be viewed as a sort of recruiting program for the next generation of Villanovans. Throughout the weekend, younger siblings and relatives of current Villanova students participate in events on campus that will indoctrinate them into the Villanova culture and attract a pool of future applicants.

Certainly, it is not a bad thing to encourage legacies. There have been entire families that have enrolled here. And as prospective students are often told on their Blue Key tour (just as they’re about to make their way through the entrance of the St. Thomas of Villanova Church), many people even meet their spouses during their time on the Main Line.

However, legacies do contribute to one of the problems with the University: a lack of diversity. In addition to race, gender, ethnicity and religion, diversity also encompasses ideas, experiences and upbringings. By admitting a large number of applicants who are from the same family, the University risks limiting the perspectives and opinions that students are exposed to during their college career.

This week’s celebration of MLK Jr.’s life and legacy illustrates how dedicated the University is to diversity, especially in academic thought. Many of the lectures in the series focused on certain minorities groups and diversity issues, both within the college community and outside in the local and global communities. In at least two of these events, students in the audience asked what they could do to help bring about change. In order to bring about change, however, we must first consider the type of people Villanova brings in.

We would encourage the University to not limit Little Wildcat Weekend to just family members but rather open it up to children who live in nearby neighborhoods. Advertise it in Philadelphia elementary schools. There is no doubt that our student organizations would be more than willing to provide students who can “adopt” little siblings for the day. Make Villanova an option for all.