The recent arrests of dozens of the rich and powerful over allegations of undercover payments to get their kids into Ivy League schools have brought to the forefront yet another example of extreme inequities in this country: the haves and the have-nots.
We always figured that when a rich person gives millions to a school for a new building or scholarship that his or her progeny would have an advantage in getting into that school. But who knew the college acceptance process for the rich involved bribes to coaches and millions of dollars to so-called non-profits? Nobody, until the FBI uncovered the scandal that alleges coaches knowingly claimed rich students to be top-notch athletes when some didn’t even play the sport and that test scores were fabricated, all for a fee.
So, now, are the classmates of every college rich kid going to give them the side-eye wondering how they got into school the same way that for years minorities, specifically African-American students at Ivy Leagues, are assumed to be in on a special pass through affirmative action? And if the fraud is proven, how much more than a slap on the wrist will the principal players get?
At the heart of the investigation is William Singer, owner of a so-called nonprofit, Key Worldwide Foundation. Singer pleaded guilty March 12 to charges of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Then 50 others were charged, including 33 parents and 13 coaches and Singer “associates.” Two of them were television actors and one owned a major law firm.
Now the NCAA is investigating the athletic angle.
“What we do is help the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school,” Singer said according to a transcript of a phone call. Bribes reportedly were paid by the parents to the nonprofit and then the parents got a tax deduction!
We agree with Theresa Vargas, a Latina who attended Stanford and Columbia and who wrote a recent column for the Washington Post, that outrage should be expressed when no matter how hard a minority works at a major PWI, folks ignore the minority student’s high GPA and test scores and the high school AP classes. Instead, they assume the minority student has been given a slot that should have gone to a more worthy applicant.
Vargas said, “These are not whines or pleas for sympathy. They are justified vents and wake-up calls for people to start looking at the education system in this country has long been skewed against people of color and especially poor people of color.”
So that means you have contrasts like these: A high school guidance counselor tells Michelle Obama she isn’t Ivy League material – thank goodness she didn’t listen. Then you have Donald Trump getting into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and being described by one professor as the “dumbest student” he’d even seen. Biographer Gwenda Blair said Trump was admitted as a “special favor” to his brother. See the inequity?
A fair admission process should be guaranteed at every university. Students deserve equality and answers. There needs to be an improvement in the administration, grading and student verification system of the ACT and SAT. Anyone, including the rich, who engages in fraudulent behavior should get the sentence he or she deserves.
College scandals are just the tip of the iceberg in the injustices between the “haves and have nots.” Not condoning this behavior can help bridge the divide for social change.
(Managing editor Cheryl Daniel wrote this editorial on behalf of the Courtbouillon staff.)