By Priya Shah (’22)
About a year ago, one of the craziest, and most shocking scandals in the history of education emerged: The 2019 College Admissions Scandal. In short, this event was a scandal between many adults to ensure their children would gain admission to some of America’s most elite universities. However, the government investigation, known as “Operation Varsity Blues”, finally discovered and revealed that this scandal was led by a man named William Rick Singer. Parents paid him to alter standardized test scores, bribe proctors and admissions officers, and lie about student’s extracurriculars. The singer was a college consultant who led the entire scandal. Essentially, parents “donated” money to Singer’s organization, The Key Worldwide Foundation, but the money was used to bribe exam proctors, admissions officers, and coaches.
Among the 50 parents involved in the scandal included: renowned actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman paid 15,000 dollars for her daughter to cheat on the SAT exam, and to increase her scores. She eventually pleaded guilty, served a jail sentence for 11 days, and paid a fine of 30,000 dollars. Huffman later apologized to the public for the actions. On the other hand, Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli have decided not to plead guilty. The couple paid 500,000 dollars to ensure both of their daughters’ admission into the University of Southern California. They pretended their daughters were on competitive rowing teams, and that they won many awards. Both Loughlin and Giannulli believe that everything they did was “perfectly legal”. On April 1, 2020, the couple filed to get charges dismissed against them. One of the motions discussed how they believed the money they paid to Singer was simply going to be a donation to the school. Another charge claims that some of the evidence the government used was obtained improperly. After the government had found out that Singer was leading this operation, they tapped him with wires and got phone call evidence with the other parents for prosecutors to use in court. The defendants argue that Singer was used as a government cooperator in order for them to gain information so all of that evidence should be thrown out. There were many other motions filed by the defense team along with the ones mentioned. Loughlin and Giannulli face a trial this coming October. To decide if they are guilty or not. As for their children, neither of their daughters attend USC anymore. Olivia, the younger of the two, had a social media presence during her high school years. She mainly posted lifestyle and beauty videos to Youtube. In the wake of the scandal, many companies such as Sephora ended their partnership with Jade. She did not appear on Youtube until December of 2019 when she uploaded a video detailing that she wanted to make a comeback.
So, this leaves everyone with the question: what have colleges done to prevent another scandal like this one from occurring. Well, The University of California school system has been monitoring their donation list more carefully. The University of Southern California has taken action to eliminate any false student-athlete portfolios. In order for this to occur, they have decided to have three athletic officers review the applications before they go any further, to ensure that none of them are falsified. Moreover, the public’s view on the scandal has changed the overall attitude towards college admissions. There are many counselors and organizations that have offered ideas to make the college application process fairer. Some ideas have included ending legacy admissions and allocating a number of seats for low-income students.
While this scandal has caused harm to hard-working kids all across the nation, it also allowed higher education institutes to rethink their policies and ensure that every student gets a chance to pursue their dreams.