Hours of studying for the SAT, racking up the AP classes, joining a sport every season and involving themselves in every club are things high schoolers do to compete for college acceptance letters. However, some of the students in these elite universities did not have to do any of that to get that an acceptance letter in the mail.
On Tuesday, the FBI and federal prosecutors of the District of Massachusetts released a list of 50 people who were charged in a nationwide college admissions scam. It involved shady recruitment and a bribery scheme.
These individuals included prominent Bay Area coaches, business leaders and wealthy parents who were adamant in getting their students into the top universities in the country.
These individuals went as far as photoshopping their students into athletic portraits, faking their statistics during the supposed season they were active and bribing the coaches with millions of dollars. The coaches would then tell the admissions of top universities to hold a spot for the students, according to Sports Illustrated.
Four on the list were charged with the conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three of which were charged with the conspiracy to commit racketeering and 33 of which were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
According to the indictment, the defendants are accused of helping potential students cheat on their entrance exams. They also allowed them to pose as recruited athletes or bribe schools with up to $6 million to get students in the university.
As a student, I worked a job, managed sports and AP classes, as well as went through multiple classes to perfect my SAT score. I can say I’m more than upset about this news. I got rejected from 6 out of the 8 schools I applied for, and these students were able to get in through their privilege and class.
Coaches from Wake Forest University, Georgetown, University of Southern California, Yale and Stanford have been accused of accepting large sums of money to help students pose as recruited athletes, even if they had little to no athletic ability.
According to AP News, actress Felicity Huffman paid $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation so her daughter could be a part of the college entrance scam. Along with Huffman, Full House actress, Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli were charged and Giannulli was taken into custody.
Loughlin allegedly sent in pictures of both of her daughters on a rowing machine to convince USC to have them designated as recruits on the crew team. According to CNN, along with the photos, she allegedly paid bribes to the row coach that totaled to $500,000.
“It’s embarrassing for our country and shameful for our education system in allowing that to happen,” said linguistics senior Solange Ramirez. “Americans take pride in our education and boast about how great is its, yet they still choose quantity, in money, over quality?”
This scandal is one of the largest college admissions scams ever prosecuted by the Justice Department involving 200 agents nationwide and 50 people in six states, according to CNN.
Criticism of affirmative action, the policy that allows college admissions to take into account an applicant’s ethnicity to an extent, seem ridiculous in comparison to this very illegal scandal that has given wealthy families an upperhand in admissions.
The main suspect of these charges is William Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business called the Edge College & Career Network.
Singer used his company and its nonprofit sister company, Key Worldwide Foundation, to help students cheat on their entrance exams. The company would also pay money to college coaches who would get the students in under faux athlete profiles.
The U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew E. Lelling, said the true victim in this case is the hard working students who did not have any of these advantages and whose spots were taken from them through bribery.
The universities are also victim to the scams, and many of them are cooperating with the ongoing investigation. The NCAA is also looking at all the cases to determine if the individuals who were charged violate the guidelines intended to regulate the recruitment and benefit of their athletes, according to AP News.
The students who were being accepted under these circumstances are also not the ones to blame, as the parents were the main influencers behind the scam. These parents used their wealth, advantage and were able to make a separate admissions process just for their child.
While they may have just wanted what was best for their child, these parents disregarded the rest of the student population who had to go through normal competition for their place in school.
This incident has been heard nationwide, and the president of the American Council on Education, Tim Mitchell told the New York Times that this “violate[s] the essential premise of a fair and transparent college admissions process.”