Thirty-three parents have been accused of bribery and fraud in the largest university admission scandal ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice in the attempt to set their children up for success at elite universities across the nation.
The parents involved included wealthy actresses and CEOs who allegedly spent between $200,000 and $6.5 million, according to FBI special agent Joseph Bonavolonta, in cheating tactics to give their less-qualified child an upperhand in admissions to prominent campuses, such as Stanford, Yale
Amid the scandal, two Stanford students have sued the latter schools for not allowing “a fair admissions consideration process” despite their outstanding SAT and ACT scores and athletic talent. The greatest issue outweighing the media’s obsessive focus on the tarnished reputations of the affluent is the hundreds of applicants whose shot at admission was overlooked by the acts of conniving parents and their undeserving children.
Inheriting privilege is a birthright we all know exists for those born into the top 1 percent, along with the parental expectation to discourage second-rate education and third-rate careers from tainting a bloodline of ‘legacy.’
Constructed as the “side door” to accessible higher education, the masterminds aiding in the ad- missions scam are William “Rick” Singer, owner of the college counseling and prep business “The Key,” Mark Riddell, director of college entrance exam preparation at IMG Academy, and Rudolph “Rudy”
Meredith, former Yale women’s head soccer coach.
Singer, 58, once described to a parent a “three-way system” that enables students to be admitted into their dream colleges. The first route is the “front door,” in which one gets in on their own merits. The second is the “back door,” which is by means of institutional advancement and is “10 times as
much money,” according to Singer. The last way is the “side door” Singer created—the exchange of large sums of money for falsified test scores and athletic profiles.
Riddell, 36, became the brains of acing SAT and ACT scores for students and Meredith, 51, aided in finessing universities into believing these students were star athletes in sports that many of them never even competed in.
Not only has this scam tarnished the reputation of successful business moguls and celebrities such as Fuller House star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, but the students involved are also getting a taste of the backlash. The question that remains unanswered is whether the students will have to suffer the consequences of expulsion or the revocation of their degree because of the wrongdoings of their own pretentious parents.
Olivia Jade Giannulli, Loughlin’s daughter and a freshman at USC, is an affluent Youtuber with nearly 2 million subscribers, who has branded her beauty and fashion empire through being a role model for young girls who admired her opulent lifestyle.
In a video posted by Giannulli in August 2018, she expressed her desire to go to college for the game-day and partying experience, claiming she “didn’t really care about school at all.” Her mother allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to have her nominated as a recruit for the University’s crew team. Since
the allegations, she has lost ties with brand deals that promoted and sponsored her college-inspired videos in the past, such as Amazon, Sephora and Lulu’s.
As for USC, a spokesperson has reassured the media that they we will be conducting “case-by-case reviews of current students and graduates” who are connected to the scam and those “in the current admissions cycle who are connected to the scheme alleged by the government will be denied
admission to USC.”
The parents involved may have justified their actions claiming the best intentions for their child’s future, but in reality they have exacerbated a corrupt system that was initially designed to repress low-income minorities from a better future.
With the spotlight dangling heavily over this issue, the divide between those born with the silver spoon and those who have continuously pulled themselves up by their bootstraps has been amplified. A scheme forged to “boost the odds” of a less suitable candidate has further proven the
inequitable truth that money can buy you anything, even the best education—that is, until you are caught.