College admissions should be about merit not money

A college admissions scandal shook the nation last week after the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts announced charges against 50 individuals involved in bribery, fraud, and cheating to get hundreds of students into competitive universities. Those indicted include high profile actresses such as Lori Loughlin who paid $500,000 in bribes to have her daughters admitted to USC under the pretense of being successful rowers and Felicity Huffman who paid $15,000 to raise her daughter’s SAT score.

At the center of the scandal is William Singer, serving as the middleman, bribing coaches and test administrators after being paid large sums by clients. With the extent of college admissions corruption now blatantly exposed, the courts must severely punish conspirators in order to make universities rethink their admissions processes and prevent wealthy parents from buying their child’s way into elite schools.

The corruption uncovered by federal investigators reveals the true extent of the unfair privilege wealthy Americans experience. After successfully bribing her first daughter into USC, Loughlin did the same with her younger daughter, Olivia Jade a social media influencer who once said of college to followers, “I do want the experience of like game days, partying…I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.” Actions like this create a notion that being rich means someone is entitled above others and are above the law. Every student fraudulently accepted into a university reinforces that notion and encourages corruption devastating to American education and equality.

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The damage of conspirators extends far beyond just committing fraud. For one, the coveted spots at competitive schools bought by shady parents could have potentially gone to a more deserving student. Why should students spending hundreds of hours studying and thousands of dollars on tutoring be less entitled to attend a school than one whose parents paid for a rigged test? It can be difficult enough for students to get into competitive schools like Stanford with an acceptance rate of 4.3 percent in 2017. When this continues to happen, bright students across the country don’t apply to elite schools because they feel they have no chance of getting in. These students might never have the chance to explore their full potential without the opportunity offered by competitive schools.

The cycle of cheating and bribery is more real and close to home than Redhawks might believe. College admissions corruption is not exclusive to the wealthy families of California or elite universities like Yale or Georgetown, as Houston served as a center for rigged SAT tests and the University of Texas at Austin firing their successful men’s tennis coach Michael Center after he was arrested for accepting about $100,000 to recruit a student for the team, who did not even play tennis.

Dozens of Redhawks apply to UT each year and they could vouch for how difficult it can be to get in if you’re not in the top six percent of your class. The 50 indictments present a valuable opportunity to call out schools and bribery to protect college spots for hardworking Redhawks, as well as students across the nation.

Admissions processes in America have been rigged for far too long. Last week’s criminal charges represent only one ring of cheating and bribes by coaches and corrupt upper class parents.

It is now up to students, parents, and teachers alike to demand transparency among athletic recruits by schools and transparency through all admissions. The power to punish conspirators and prove that the wealthy are not above the law lies with the federal courts.

If the federal courts and court of public opinion succeed in rebuking such corrupt conduct, there might just be hope for a future where students have a fair shot at their dream school.