This has sparked discussions about why factors such as donations, athletics and inheritance status are factored into the admissions process, which traditionally benefits affluent families. Yet, positive action, intended to help underrepresented minorities, is the subject of painstaking scrutiny and legal challenges.
"Some people have said that wealth is a positive action for whites," said Anthony Jack, assistant professor of education at Harvard University.
It is not the affirmative actions that threaten equity in the process of admitting a college, according to his supporters, but rather the benefits of the rich and the powerful.
"These families have exposed a system and I hope (this) will inject into the American imagination how much money and the diverted means by which the rich, especially the rich and white families, come in." college and at the university, "Jack said.
The former president of Harvard University, Larry Summers, told Christiane Amanpour, of CNN, that higher education was to be the subject of much introspection.
Americans are "not totally wrong" to think "that elites rig the system for themselves and their families," he said.
Discourse around affirmative action
The scandal has hit a nerve, going beyond discussions about elitism and raising race issues.
"Imagine that it is the problem of admissions to the university that is related to positive action," tweeted the ACLU.
Jack says that there is a link between scandal and positive action.
"It's so written in the American imagination that these spots (in prestigious institutions) are reserved for whites and every time a black student or Latinx student comes in, it takes them a place That's not what's happening, "said Jack, of the author of" The Privileged Poor, "on the experience of low-income students in elite universities.
"What is telling," he said of the scandal, "are the steps and the giant leaps that wealthy families are making to ensure a place that is not legitimately right, the one they think they own. "
Many underrepresented minorities say that they must constantly prove themselves and prove their qualifications for a place.
A person of color must "prove themselves at all times," said Tiffany Cross, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Beat DC, at a roundtable on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon.
"You can be a graduate of the Ivy League and introduce yourself to the table.Someone will question your existence there.Nobody has ever asked," How does this elemental person and Ordinary next to me, who is not a person of color, did she make a living? space here? "
However, there is little talk of under-qualified white students who benefit from preferences in the admission process, such as sports, family influence and inheritance, according to some.
Patrician sports athletes, such as sailing or water polo, are recruited for university athletics. These types of sports are not accessible to students in downtown schools.
"This shows the hypocrisy of the high status of the legacies and the athletes in the admissions process," Jack said. "There is no moral, social or political justification for these two groups to obtain preferential treatment upon admission".
These preferences mainly benefit white and wealthy candidates, but are not part of the ongoing debate about affirmative action and what should be considered in the admissions process, he said. .
The group claims that Harvard disavows high-performing Asian Americans and gives a helping hand to African-Americans, Hispanics and other traditional recipients of positive action.
"It's really a conservative group that uses the faces of Asian students to say that they allow Asian students to enter admissions to give to blacks and blacks," Cross said in a statement. round table.
"It is interesting that the privileged people make sure that other people of color think we stole something from them, they do not attack privileged people."