Taylor: Admissions scam highlights real threat to academia

March 20, 2019

“When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels oppressive.”—Clay Shirky, 2006.


I am very thankful to be a Toledo Rocket.


Last week, the Associated Press reported a major college admissions scam.


An explanation from the Department of Justice outlined three major facets of the issue.


The report states that the scam involved “bribing SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker, typically the individual charged, to secretly take college entrance exams in place of students or to correct the students’ answers after they had taken the exam.”


The DOJ also mentioned that those in the scandal were “bribing university athletic coaches and administrators—including coaches at Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California and the University of Texas—to facilitate the admission of students to elite universities under the guise of being recruited as athletes” and “using the facade of the individual charged charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribes.”


Oh the outrage! (Cue the rhetorical questions.)


1. Raise your hand if you are surprised that affluent parents have been bribing college administrators and coaches to admit their children into top rated schools, unwarrantedly.


Keep your hands up.


2. Raise your hand if you are fairly certain that this type of behavior has been happening and probably will continue to happen.


3. Are we to believe that the Department of Justice will hold any of the schools or the people involved actually accountable for anything?


Will there be a retroactive investigation to determine who has received fraudulent degrees or offered admissions to students who were bumped from the list due to someone else being given the spot earned?


OK, put your hands down.


Personally, I am not surprised one bit. In the United States, one percent of the population has more wealth than the remaining 99 percent combined.


Isn’t this privilege and desire to advance the same reason the students are told that “it’s not what you know but who you know”?


To me, this sounds as if all the knowledge in the world can’t compete with the right handshake. Interesting.


Our society is built on being better and obtaining more than the next person. High value consumerism has college students strutting about on campus in Michael Jordan shoes ($250), carrying Michael Kors purses ($300) or ignoring you while they are plugged into Apple’s AirPods ($159).


Again, not surprised that access to industry can be bribed or flat-out bought.


Isn’t this also the reason that people (and businesses) relocate from the city to the suburbs hoping to have better access to the basic functions of society like schools, hospitals, public roads, better facilities and a more responsive law enforcement department?  


When we decide to move from the city and take our taxes from the city development, I always wonder, who are we trying to move away from, and who are we hoping to do better than?

Months ago in Philadelphia, two black college students were arrested while visiting the coffee shop. I’m just saying.


In Boston, Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for the district of Massachusetts, called it the largest admissions scandal ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.


“There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal-justice system either,” he said.


Lelling’s statement is kind, but tone deaf at best.


The elite class has always used their wealth and influence to give their children special treatment on campuses. Fraternity row and all of the fancy houses are an example.


Often, it’s done legally through legacy (alumnus) and athletic admissions, via hefty donations made to the schools, or, for example, a family paying for a new building on campus.


Matter of factly, in this same press conference condemning the behavior, Lelling said, “We’re not talking about donating a building...We’re talking about fraud.”

So we have acknowledged that some parts of scale tipping are OK while others aren’t?


The real losers in this situation are the students. It is reported that while only 50 people have been charged in the scheme, over 750 families have benefited from this pay-for-admission scandal.


For every student illegally admitted, another deserving student was rejected, the same students who leave college thousands of dollars in debt hoping for entry-level positions that most often don’t represent their degree programs and won’t allow them to earn a decent living.


On Sept. 24, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11375 (amending Executive Order O11246) adding sex (women) to the order.


This order, known as Affirmative Action, was put in place to enforce institutions to comply with the nondiscriminatory mandate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act at the time did not cover veterans, people with disabilities or people over 40 years old.


These subgroups were all covered under different laws. Since its inception, minorities (citizens of lower economic status, people of color, people with disabilities or women) have had to defend the benefit of institutions that use Affirmative Action as a tool to celebrate diversity.

Based on this recent scam exposure, affirmative action is incredibly necessary and may still not be enough to facilitate fairness.


There are a number of lawsuits in motion across the country due to admission discrimination in colleges. Asian-Americans filed a lawsuit against Harvard University in 2014 pertaining to the use of “race” on the applications that has not yet reached judgment.


Students and parents at institutions involved in this scandal have also filed lawsuits at UCLA, Stanford, USC and Yale seeking monies for damages regarding the fees associated with applying to the schools.


The lawsuit says, “had the students known the process was rigged with fraud...they would have not applied to the school. They also did not get what they paid for—a fair admissions considerations process.”


If the students can convince these institutions to settle out of court and they get big money, would the monies earned be more valuable than the salary and knowledge to be gained from an academic degree?


Education Secretary Betsy Devos (billionaire) released a statement stating, “The Department is looking closely at this issue and working to determine if any of our regulations have been violated.”


Anyone care to translate what this means?


Anthony Taylor is a fourth-year history major.


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