The Privilege that Perpetuated the College Admissions Scam
By Karina Cashman
The recent college admissions scandal seems to have shaken many and is often being referred to as the largest college admissions scandal to date. “Operation Varsity Blues” which was investigated by the FBI and Justice Department for over a year featured prominent celebrity figures such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin who paid money to get their children into elite universities, and it seems that many were in on the scam. Both Loughlin and Huffman were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, and according to a Buzzfeed article, among those charged are “three accused of organizing the scheme, two ACT/SAT administrators, an exam proctor, one college administrator, nine coaches from elite schools, and 33 parents.” Cheating was accomplished and facilitated by bribing coaches and administrators to accept students as athletic recruitments when they weren’t athletes, and this was done by Loughlin herself who had fake photos created of her daughter to make it look as if she was on the rowing team when she never played the sport herself. Cheating was also done by either having people take classes or exams for the students, giving the students the correct answers for exams, changing the students answers on exams after they submit their own answers, and lying on application submissions. This story has been a trending topic due to both the prominence of who is involved and the magnitude of what was done.
While many seem to be surprised at the sheer size of this scandal, the act of what was done seems to be something suspected of flying under the radar. For minority and lower income students this scandal comes less as a shock, and more as an affirmation of what has been happening behind the scenes for far too long. The college admissions system has been letting those with privilege seep in through the cracks despite them being less deserving that other students. For every participant of this scam, whether they knew they were or not, who was able to gain entry to a college by falsified means, there was a more deserving student who got a rejection letter. For every faked photo and bribed coach, there was a more deserving student who trained for their entire life just to find they weren’t accepted.
There is a bigger issue at work here in which unearned privilege gets you far more than simply a foot in the door, it gets you a seat at the table at the expense of someone else.
It is important to remember that for many, the shock of this scandal isn’t necessarily that it happened, we’ve seen this in our television shows, in media. There has always been a suspicion that that privilege and status can get you what may come harder to someone else, this simply proves it. For many the shock is not that this happened, it’s that it was exposed. It’s that the story has come to the light, that people are getting charged and fired, that the entire college admission process is under much closer scrutiny. There is, at least, some form of consequence for what has happened, rejected students are sewing on the basis of “negligence, unfair competition and violations of consumer law,” according to a CNN report. They’re sewing because they feel they were robbed of a fair college admissions process, and they’re right.
While there has always been suspicion of unfair treatment in regards to the wealthy, the sheer magnitude of what has been happening in the shadows at these elite schools is something out of a YA dystopia. The entire college admissions process, the entire college admissions team at these schools, it has all been soiled, it’s been degraded. The college admissions process needs to be re-examined and re-analyzed. Any bias, unfair treatment, or discrimination happening in this process must be removed, and those involved in the college admissions process need to be investigated whether they were a part of the scandal or not. The entire college admissions system needs to be cleansed so that students can be provided with a fair, equal, and unbiased process based on truthful academic and extracurricular prowess.
I can’t imagine being a high school senior at this time, being so full of fear and exuberance, this close to the elusive college dream only to find a system that has been rigged and robbed of all dignity and integrity. The college admissions process needs to be investigated, it needs to be pulled apart and put back together on a basis of an honest and fair system open to accepting all types of students.
Despite many suspecting this type of behavior was happening behind the scenes, it is a big deal that this has all come into the light, because now something can be done about it. Now that we know exactly what’s been happening, we can take the necessary steps to ensuring that this doesn’t happen again. We can take the necessary steps to ensure the fair, honest, and unbiased system that all prospective students deserve, and it all starts with charging those accountable. We cannot let those who let this happen get away with a slap on the wrist, we need to provide genuine consequence to those involved in this perpetuation of fraud, and we need to ensure that nothing of this caliber happens again. Until that is done, the college admissions process is and always will be, a failure.