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Colorado State

Colorado becomes first state in country to ban "legacy admissions" at public colleges and universities

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Steven Bonifazi
Steven Bonifazi
 28 days ago
(Mark Makela/Getty Images)

By Steven Bonifazi

(DENVER, Colo.) Legacy admissions have been banned at colleges and universities statewide Tuesday after Gov. Jared Polis signed HB1173, making the preference system for admissions against the law.

Legacy admissions allow colleges and universities to give a preference to specific applicants based on their family relationship to alumni members. According to AP, the bill bars public higher education officials from utilizing "legacy preference" or family relationships alumni when performing their admissions process.

“Just because your parent or grandparent went to one of our colleges in Colorado, that doesn’t mean that you automatically get in,” said Polis. “Because that could take the spot of somebody who is more worthy of that spot.”

The idea of the new bill was initially brought to state lawmakers by Prateek Dutta, Colorado Policy Director for Democrats for Education Reform. Additional backers of the bill included Clark Brigger, University of Colorado executive director of admissions, who claimed that legacy admissions are not a main consideration for the university, as reported by Denver7.

“If a student’s family members attended CU Boulder, they probably grew up watching CU football games, they probably have sweatshirts and things that say Colorado on them, and therefore the predictability of that student actually coming to CU is very high," said Brigger.

Polis additionally stated Tuesday that legacy admissions often harm first-generation college students, people of color or illegal immigrants.

The Colorado Sun reports that the bill's text states that approximately 63 percent of the state's white students and 67 percent of middle- to high-income students graduate high school and pursue a bachelor's degree right after, with 42 percent of Latino students and 47 percent of low-income students enrolling right after finishing high school.

Furthermore, Polis signed another bill Tuesday, HB1067, which removes requirements for public universities in Colorado to examine SAT or ACT scores for incoming freshmen. According to Polis, the bill encourages a more equitable and holistic approach to admissions processes as well as access to higher education.

“While students can still submit national test scores if they choose, this bill will help students by reducing inequality in college admissions,” said University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano in a statement Tuesday. “Reducing barriers to the college admissions process creates more equity and helps us fulfill our responsibility as the state’s flagship public research university to educate all Colorado students regardless of financial means and backgrounds.”

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