Scholastic Scandal

By: Tori Custer

When most people hear the birds starting to chirp and the flowers beginning to sprout, they think of spring. However, at this time of year, the only thing high school seniors can think of is college. After spending weeks and months pouring over their applications, seniors start to see the results of their hard work over the past four years and trust the college admissions process to make their decisions justly and fairly. With the revelation that rich parents have been paying college officials massive bribes and faking standardized test scores, many are starting to feel that that trust might have been misplaced.

“I think it’s crazy that anyone would pay their child’s way into a university. It takes away opportunities from those who work hard for it, and that’s not right,” said senior Katie Stewart.

The college admissions scandal, also called Operation Varsity Blues, came into the spotlight thanks to a former Yale University soccer coach who accepted $400,000 in the bribe that would come to expose him and countless others. Ruby Meredith, the coach, accepted the bribe to recruit the daughter of a wealthy couple who did not play soccer. Unfortunately for Meredith, the father of his new recruit was being investigated by the FBI and ultimately turned him over to the authorities, resulting in the exposure of the scheme. Since then, Meredith has pleaded guilty to receiving over $800,000 in bribes to recruit unqualified students so they could be received through a backdoor into the university. Yale has also taken away the admission of the students involved.

William Singer was the main player in the scandal, running what he called a “college preparatory business,” called the Edge College and Career Network or just “The Key.” The business was found to “prepare” students by helping them cheat on standardized tests and by organizing the payment of bribes to school officials. Due to the nonprofit status of The Key, parents could place their money into an account without having to pay federal taxes. As a result of his negotiating the bribe between Meredith and the wealthy couple, his scandal was exposed. He pleaded guilty to several charges in early March. During the hearing, he described the many crimes he committed in order to get students into top universities, including having a proctor change a student’s test answers to get a specific score without the knowledge of the student. He also allegedly lied about the race and other biological details of some students.

“It’s unfortunate that students who worked hard during high school have to now question the validity of their admission into a university,” said senior Gabby Mashkouri.

The government has focused on 33 parents in the scandal. One parent, Mr. McGlashan, claimed his son had a learning disability and needed more time on a college entrance exam. He was allowed the extended time and was additionally allowed to take the test alone. The son was unaware of his father’s actions according to court documents. The son was accepted into the University of Southern California. Mr. Caplan, another parent, also paid Singer for a fake test score that his daughter would think of as legitimate. Most notably known to be involved were actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who have already been pulled from several projects for their part.

Ultimately, fifty people were charged for involvement. Georgetown University, Stanford University, University of California, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas, Wake Forest University, and Yale University are all being investigated due to their ties to the scandal. Several students have sued the schools, and those charged are heading to court, if they haven’t already.