That's right, isn't it? God damn.
Writing school-specific cover letters is a pain, and asking applicants to write an essay on the topic of "What special qualities I would bring to your department" is moronic. But I've heard that some schools that aren't in the Leiter top 50 toss files out based solely on the cover letter: if it's generic, the file goes. At first, I was scandalized. They might be eliminating loads of good candidates! But they're not worried about eliminating good candidates. They know that, with 100 or 200 (or 300 or 400 or 500) files, they won't have trouble finding 12 candidates who are good enough. And what they're looking for are 12 candidates who are good enough and who actually show some interest in the job. So what they're doing isn't crazy. (Yes, you could show interest at the interview. But why should they wait until then? They can find 12 people who, before the interview, have evinced particular interest.)