Tom Schuster | Monday, November 8, 2010
I write this letter to commend Ryan Williams on his excellent article regarding legacy status and affirmative action. I agree with the entire spirit of your article, and with most of the content as well. However, I would like to tweak the argument in Ryan’s article just a bit.
As a legacy student myself I understand that Notre Dame likes to keep certain families close to the Notre Dame. At the same time, I admit that I worry from time to time about why and how I got into Notre Dame. People do, and should, earn points on college applications for things such as ACT/SAT scores, extracurricular activities and, most importantly, grades. All of these items constitute genuine qualifications when determining a good prospective student. Conversely, skin color, parents, money, hair color and height do not constitute qualifications that earn points with admissions. At least, they shouldn’t.
Notre Dame does not (or should not) look for whites or blacks. It does not (or should not) look for legacies or otherwise. Notre Dame looks at the entire character, identity and experience of an applicant. For most people this includes all those things I mentioned — skin color, parents, money, etc. Therefore I believe that while affirmative action and legacy should not check a qualification box for admission, the issues they involve do form a part of one’s character, identity and experience in some way. As such, I think it is fair to at least recognize race and legacy instead of ignoring it. Or in other words, Notre Dame should not accept whites or blacks or legacies and other students. Instead, Notre Dame should accept good people while knowing that race, legacy, etc. help shape a person.