With the recent college admission scandal involving the privileged elite buying their children spots at prestigious universities, it seems the punishment is less for the payment and more for who got paid.
On March 12, news broke about a massive college entrance cheating plot that led to charges for dozens of people including Lori Loughlin of “Full House” and Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives.”
The scheme, which William Singer orchestrated through his company, Edge College & Career Network, began in 2011 and focused on having wealthy parents pay the company to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and falsify athletic records to secure admission into elite schools such as Yale, USC and Stanford, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to the legal brief, Singer instructed the parents to donate to a fake charity he had established for the scheme. Most paid around $200,000, but some spent up to $6.5 million, and the parents deducted the “donations” from their income taxes, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Administrators and coaches allegedly received money from Singer and his organization to accept students with falsified athletic records and to give them spots on collegiate teams.
Singer even went so far as having photos doctored to superimpose the faces of wealthy children onto the bodies of athletes to “prove” that the children were athletes.
Absurd as this whole scandal is, the most telling sign about the reason for the punishment comes from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, who announced the charges.
“We’re not talking about donating a building so that a school is more likely to take their son or daughter, we’re talking about deception and fraud,” Lelling said when he announced the charges.
The only difference between buying a building for a school and this scandal is that the money went to private individuals instead of the universities the kids got into.
The core concept is the same; privileged children of the wealthy elite are receiving entrance into universities they’re not necessarily qualified for due to the liberal application of their family’s wealth.
Functionally, the spots are still stolen from applicants with more merit but less wealth, but in these cases, the universities aren’t getting a fancy new administrative building.
While these wealthy parents being prosecuted for their crimes is a good sign, it’s unlikely that universities will take the steps to truly solve the endemic issues of wealth disparity in the academic realm.