Buying Their Way In: PB Responds to College Admin. Scandal

Tahirih Njang, Staff Writer

What would you do to get into your dream school? Would you lie about your accomplishments? Would you pay someone to take the SAT for you? Would you photoshop your face onto the body of a varsity athlete at your school and pretend it is you?

Well, for more than fifty American families, the answer to each of these questions was “yes.”
On March 12th, federal authorities announced indictments in a college admissions scam between wealthy parents and several prestigious universities. Authorities announced that more than fifty people allegedly participated in either cheating on standardized tests or bribing schools to gain their children an acceptance letter.

The most talked about celebrity family involved in the scandal is actress Lori Loughlin, commonly known as Aunt Becky from Full House, as well as her daughter, Youtube star Olivia Jade. Another well-known acting family, Felicity Huffman, known for her role on Desperate Housewives and William H. Macy from Showtime’s hit show Shameless were also implicated in the scandal.

According to The Cut reporters Opheli Garcia Lawler and Kimberly Truong, Loughlin and her husband, acclaimed fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 in bribes to the University of Southern California to get their two daughters into the institution. Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 so that her daughter could cheat on her college entry exam.

Alongside dozens of parents who were charged for their fraudulent actions are test prep specialists, college coaches, and college administrators. Response to the scam was immediate as critics jumped at the chance to talk about the issue, the privilege we give to the rich and powerful, and how easy it is for them to uphold this power.

At Paint Branch the general feeling seems to be one of outrage about the scandal and about what this says about wealth and privilege in the United States.
“I think it’s shameful that people with money think it’s okay to use that to get their children into schools,” comments Paint Branch College Career Counselor Mrs. Murphy. “There are students that are hardworking and do things the right way, and are unable to get into these schools because of people who take their spots.”

PB English teacher Ms. Flippen feels similarly adding, “It appears as though for the wealthy or financially well off, nothing is illegal. If you have money, everything is legal.”
For students like senior Tiaret Mitchell this is “just another case of privileged white kids getting what they want.”

Fellow senior Natalia Portillo expresses both anger and fear at the incident. “It’s a harsh slap in the face to students of color who work so hard in a society and system that is already pitted against them in so many ways. It’s also scary to see everything money can get you, and the privilege that comes with it.”
Lastly, Liya Chanie, also a senior, expressed some surprise that parents would go this far for their children. “It’s crazy how those parents were willing to take the chances of hardworking and qualified students just for the name of the school. A college education is a college education. Although the admissions process across the country is faulty, it doesn’t mean paying things off and cheating your way through the system is okay or justified.”

Time will tell how this scandal impacts college admissions in the future, but for now it has placed a strong and bright spotlight on the entire process.