Yale and Harvard Law are refusing to indulge in university rankings, on alleged grounds of morality. But are they just masking faltering legacies?
The mythology of the Ivy League has long endured, its promise propping up officious resumés, alleged political competence, and country club conversations (along with some actual achievement, of course). This mythology, at least in part, has been validated by the U.S. News & World Report rankings, whose mysterious algorithms built on mountains of statistics have justified these universities’ perceived dominance.
Yesterday, Harvard and Yale announced that their law schools would be withdrawing participation in such rankings. Apparently, they’re upset at being judged with some of the same methodologies they’ve historically used to evaluate applicants, claiming that rankings systems don’t properly reflect their missions—and actually prevent them from achieving them. Their soft efforts to diversify student bodies, beyond the East Coast elite of lacrosse-playing, loafer-wearing, nepotism babies they’re often associated with, have supposedly been curbed by ranking systems.
“The only way for Ivies to maintain their aura of superiority is to remove themselves from that which threatens to challenge, under any explicit terms.”
It’s a nice sentiment, although it seems excessive to give these institutions a pat on the back for finally (and only partially) refusing to partake in an obviously tainted system, which has been long despised for their lack of scope and transparency. It should also be noted that Ivy League schools have started to fall out of public favor—their previously unchallenged dominance on the precipice of collapse. Harvard Law had just dropped from the Top 3 ranking for the first time in three decades. Yale’s reputation is also under threat, amid free speech and political bias controversies.
With the sense of faith instilled in the quality of education at many public universities—such as schools within the University of California system, which have steadily crawled up many ranked lists—the only way for Ivies to maintain their aura of superiority is to remove themselves from that which threatens to challenge, under any explicit terms. And what better reason than a moral cause? It seems the mission to diversify student bodies was not able to be completed with massive budgets and an even larger breadth of applicants, prohibited only by a ranking system which they used to indulge in.