As Donald Trump rolls back the guidance Barack Obama put in place regarding Affirmative Action in college admissions, critics are pointing out that the president’s own son-in-law appeared to be the recipient of some very special treatment to get into Harvard University.
As Time reported, Trump issued an order this week rescinding the guidance that universities take a student’s race into account in the admissions process to encourage diversity. In rolling back the guidance, the Trump administration called it “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”
But in doing so, Donald Trump has also come under fire for his own family’s special treatment in college admissions, namely how senior White House adviser Jared Kushner was able to gain admission into Harvard University. As Daniel Golden reported in his 2007 book, The Prince of Admission, Jared’s billionaire father used his fortune and connections to help Jared get into the university.
“What Golden found, essentially, was that Jared’s father handed Harvard (a school he did not attend) a big pile of money just as Jared was starting to apply to colleges,” Vox noted. “Around the same time, Jared’s dad got his U.S. senator to contact another U.S. senator to arrange a chat with Harvard’s dean of admissions.”
Without the help from his wealthy and well-connected father, it did not appear likely that Jared Kushner would have gotten into Harvard on his own. As Golden wrote in his book, Jared’s test scores were well below Ivy League standards, to the point that officials at the elite Jewish high school he attended in New Jersey were “dismayed” when they found out he was admitted.
“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” Golden quoted a school official. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”
As Donald Trump’s critics note, the special treatment Jared Kushner appeared to receive is also the main point of contention for opponents of Affirmative Action; that the policy hurts other students who would have gained admission to a college or university on merit alone.