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Ting Brings Back Legislation To End Legacy Admissions Practices To Make College Access More Fair & Equitable

For immediate release:

Sacramento – In response to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bans race considerations in the college admissions process and more than 27 years of California’s affirmative action ban, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) will spearhead AB 1780, prohibiting California’s private colleges and universities from receiving state funding through the Cal Grant program, if they give preferential treatment to certain applicants. The practice is commonly known as “legacy admissions” and heavily tips the scales towards someone related to a donor or alumni of the university or college. The legislation aims to level the playing field by giving all students a fairer shot when applying to schools.

“We’re told that opportunities are available to anyone who works hard and gets good grades. But that’s simply not true. There’s a side door for students who come from wealth or have connections,” said Ting. “Because I believe strongly in the value of diversity in higher education, I brought this legislation back in light of the SCOTUS ruling to level the college admissions playing field for our students.”

Last year, a study by Opportunities Insights, a group of economists based at Harvard University focusing their research on inequality, found children of the one-percent – defined as parents earning more than $611,000 a year – are more than twice as likely to admit a student from a high-income family when compared to low- or middle-income families with comparable SAT/ ACT scores.

AB 1780 is modeled after the original version of Ting’s 2019 bill, AB 697, which he introduced in response to the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. The sentiment is still the same today: Taxpayer funds should not be used to support California schools that prioritize well-connected or wealthy families. However, AB 697 was later amended to require private California colleges and universities to annually report their preferential treatment numbers to the state, if they have any, by June 30th. While we wait for Fall 2023 numbers to be submitted this summer, Fall 2022 enrollment data show:

Fall 2022 Enrollment Data

This issue is critical to not only our students but also our future, as demonstrated by other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts, which are also trying to curtail legacy admissions practices. The Virginia legislature recently sent its proposal to their Governor and is currently awaiting his decision. Hearings for Ting’s AB 1780 are expected to begin this Spring.

To watch a recording of the livestream, please visit Assemblymember Ting’s website.

Additional Quotes:

“It’s time to close the door on privilege-based admissions, or legacy admissions as elite private universities call them,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “Legacy admissions are based on privilege and wealth, and diminish the work non-legacy admits do to get into college. I’m proud to be joint-author of this legislation again with Assemblymember Ting and look forward to ensuring this measure becomes law.”

“The Campaign for College Opportunity is proud to partner with Assemblymember Ting and Asian Americans advancing Justice Southern California in cosponsoring AB 1780, which will go far in expanding equity in college access and equal opportunity in college admissions across the state. Removing the unfair influence of money and alumni connections from admissions will give every talented student, regardless of race. ethnicity, income, or zip code a chance of achieving their higher education dreams at any school they choose in California,” said Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity President.

“For decades, communities, students, and parents have organized and fought for equity and access to higher education for all. AJSOCAL proudly stands alongside Assemblymember Ting and The Campaign for College Opportunity to co-sponsor AB 1780 and continuing this fight . This bill closes an unfair loophole for those with the powerful influence of “legacy” and money, and will help keep our promise to disadvantaged students across our state for a fair shot at their future,” said Victoria Dominguez, Policy Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL)

"AB 1780 would represent a major victory in the fight for equitable admissions. Students believe their colleges should be engines of economic mobility and positive social change, not tools for the preservation of intergenerational wealth and status. It's time to end legacy and donor preference, and the student and alumni organizers at Class Action are here to help make that happen,” said Ryan Cieslikowski, Lead Organizer at Class Action.