FOX | Spread the Wealth

The concentrated wealth at Cornell University is palpable. Large donations, legacy status and well-connected private schools all work in tandem to ensure that over 10 percent of students hail from the wealthiest one percent of families. The trade-off between this history and admissions equity is generally justified with the understanding that the wealth these families bring in — both through full-tuition payments and donations — does a great service to Cornell as a whole, and its low-income students in particular. 
In his op-ed last semester, Rory Walsh ’21 said of the money coming in from the families of wealthy students, “If not for their contributions, Cornell would likely be less accessible for low-income students.” The administration hails large donations as “provid[ing] critical, permanent support for faculty, students and programs.” They are correct: The funding derived from these students and their families both improves and makes possible the educational experiences of thousands of Cornell students, and allows for the development of public-oriented research and development, the benefits of which are undeniable. Still, this is a poor bargain — not for Cornell, but for the broader education system in America. The system of legacy and donor priority in admissions ought to be discontinued.

GUEST ROOM | An Ode to the Rich and Legacies

The recent college admissions scandal has highlighted many inconvenient truths about the college admissions process. The rich and powerful have a far greater ability to gain access to the nation’s best institutions. By and large, America’s elite institutions are not diverse and give preferential treatment to the admission of rich students. This privilege extends to Cornell. At Cornell, the majority of students come from high-income families.