The Kushner Z List Admit

Daniel Golden in a book The Price of Admissions (2007) wrote at length about preferential admissions at selective universities, including, inter alia, the Kushner family of Northern New Jersey and the alleged Z-List preferential admission of their son, Jared Kushner, to Harvard University, on or about 1998-99, allegedly in exchange for a donation pledge of $2.5 million to Harvard, payable in $250,000 annual installments over ten years.

The book grew out of a series of articles Golden wrote in 2004 on the same topic for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting while working at the Wall Street Journal;
[Pulizer Prize for Beat Reporting] – 2004: Daniel Golden, The Wall Street Journal, for his compelling and meticulously documented stories on admission preferences given to the children of alumni and donors at American universities.

“Daniel Golden of The Wall Street Journal – For his compelling and meticulously documented stories on admission preferences given to the children of alumni and donors at American universities.”

He wrote a similar article about preferential admissions at Brown & Duke for the Wall Street Journal.  “How Lowering the Bar Helps Colleges Prosper”

Golden graduated from Harvard in 1978.

“Harvard, to the Highest Bidder” Harvard Crimson, 2006.

“Look Who’s Getting a Leg Up from Legacy; Harvard might have to sell its soul, but at least we should ask for a good price” Harvard Crimson, 2006.

“The Legend of the Z-List; The Z-list inhabits an especially remote cranny in the cave of Harvard lore. The core of the Z-list intrigue is exclusivity. As admission rates have plummeted, mystery has increased.” Harvard Crimson, April 14, 2014

Here’s a weird one.  Sen. Charles Grassley, ostensibly a right wing conservative, held hearings in 2006 and expresses his OPPOSITION to legacy admits; 

Senate Questions Legacy Admits


“The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee questioned yesterday whether elite universities like Harvard should be allowed breaks if they continue to offer admission advantages to children of alumni and donors. 
“We need to think whether these reserved spaces at our top colleges is a public policy that should be subsidized by the tax code—as is currently the case—and also whether it is in keeping with the requirement that as charities, colleges and universities operate in the public interest,” the chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, said in his statement from the hearing. 
In his last hearing as chairman, Grassley, a Republican from Iowa whose committee has been looking at the tax- exempt status of several non-profits including hospitals and universities, heard testimony from witnesses, which included the author of “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” Daniel L. Golden ’78, and two Harvard professors. 
But as yesterday’s meeting was the Senate Finance Committee’s last under Republican leadership, witnesses said they were skeptical that the hearing will bring about real change. 
“I don’t think this was the beginning of anything,” said Associate Professor of Public Policy Susan M. Dynarski ’87, who testified at the hearing. 
Golden, in his testimony, alluded to the research in his book on the advantages given to children of donors and alumni in the college admission process. 
Golden said that schools like Harvard should live up to their social responsibility and become truly “wealth-blind.” 
“I would encourage America’s elite universities to try that experiment—to eliminate the preferences of privilege and open their doors to the best applicants, regardless of wealth,” Golden said in his statement.Golden told The Crimson yesterday that his main goal in the hearing was “to reach an audience of legislators and policy makers with the message of my book.” 
Though he said he was not sure the hearing would result in federal legislation or action, he proposed that the government consider imposing restrictions on legacy preferences. 
Grassley also questioned Golden on the journalist’s claim that Harvard gives admission preference to children of members of the Committee of University Resources (COUR), which is composed of Harvard’s largest donors—both alumni and non-alumni. 
Grassley asked whether those donors “should be allowed to take a charitable deduction if they did not appear to have a charitable intent, but instead was given for the purpose of a personal benefit, mainly to get their children accepted.” 
In conclusion, Grassley said he would ask the IRS to review the issues to help senators “understand what actions have to be taken in this area.” 
But Golden said any measures to change the current policy would be very hard to implement because lawmakers would have to determine “the value of having a child admitted to Harvard.” 
The hearing also considered whether tax benefits and incentives are being implemented in the most efficient way for universities. 
Dynarski suggested during her testimony at the hearing that the existing education tax incentives are not reaching low-income students. 
“I’d like to see a simplified program that families can count on and understand,” Dynarski told The Crimson yesterday. “There are people who don’t go to college because they’re not sure they can afford it.”

This may come as a surprise to many of us who believe the free market should be allowed to operate.  Golden himself seemed to believe in his earliest reporting that legacy and preferential admissions benefitted universities greatly.  

It’s hard to see how they hurt.

The legacy/Z List admit i know best is Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of JFK and Ambassador to Japan.

I and 1600 others are very proud to be her classmate.  I dont give a flying fig about her prep school grades–why, even her dad had to tranfer in from Princeton!  But when you say Harvard, you think, “Kennedy”.  And she has been a GREAT admit.

She’s been charitable, a good donor, a wonderful citizen, written nice books, spoken, participated, and done all this despite being a busy mother of three and being very shy by nature.  

I don’t know Jared Kushner.  But’s let’s examine the facts.  His dad has been charitable, not just to Harvard, but to many causes.  Jared Kushner graduated Harvard with honors, and took a law degree from NYU.  He married one of the smartest and most beautiful women in the world.  He bought and ran the New York Observer.  His wife and father in law trust his advice.  

And, on the Z-List stuff, maybe we’re missing the forest for the trees.  What if the Kushners had to pay more because they were Jewish?

Oh my?  Did i say that?

Because back in 1998, according to Golden’s own reporting, the going rate for a Z-List admit was a $1 million pledge, not $2.5 million.

Was the extra money tacked on because the Kushners weren’t Kennedys or Boston Brahmins?

I’m not asserting anything here.

But when Larry Summers was involuntarily separated from his Presidency, there were also discussions of anti-semitism at Harvard–stuff you don’t hear about at NYU or Penn.

The bottom line on preferential admissions has to be;

1) these colleges are private

2) there is no national policy requiring them to be meritocratic in their admissions

3) they are voluntarily meritocratic

4) they are also busineses which have to keep raising money

5) some if not all of the alums need to be wealthy and generous so the poor kids can be subsidized

6) it’s ok to admit football players, basketball players and musicians

7) Golden documented that Al Gore’s 4 kids got preferential admissions treatment at Harvard, and there were plenty of rumors about them running wild up there, included reports of unwanted pregnancies, shotgun weddings, drug busts, drunk driving, et al.  

8) Jes’ ‘sayin

9) life isnt fair

10) who says life should be fair?  you want to beat the champion, you need to do it by a lot.

11) Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in Berlin, in 1936, at the Nazi Olympic Games, training in a segregated, racist US.  He had every deck stacked every which way against him. If you think life is unfair now, try being him, then.  And reconsider your position.

and primary references cited therein, incorporated by reference herein as if fully set forth herein at length.


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