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Prominent celebrities involved in admission scandal

By Cassidy Gaudes

On March 12, word broke of a college scam involving 50 people, including 33 parents and several coaches. Involved in the scandal were well-respected universities including UCLA, USC, Stanford, University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown. The scammer, William Singer, allegedly accepted $25 million from parents to help get their kids into elite schools.

Among the parents involved are actress Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying over $500,000 for their daughters, Olivia and Isabella Giannulli, to get them recruited on the UCS rowing team, despite having never rowed before.

Other parents are accused of altering SAT and ACT scores and requesting special treatment for their children taking the tests, claiming they needed accommodation for learning disabilities.

As a broke college student with anxiety and depression, I am appalled. Acceptance into college is supposed to be about hard work and dedication, not how much someone is willing to bribe for their child’s admission.

Many of the actions taken by these rich and entitled parents may affect other students that weren’t given admission based on merit, particularly those with mental health issues that require extra help. This scandal may bring upon added scrutiny for those students that rely on that help based on the stigma that already exists.

Paying to have a student  admitted to college takes the spot away from someone who worked hard  and deserved it.

Jennifer Kay Toy, a former teacher in Oakland Unified School District and Pacifica Academy, is suing parents involved in the college admissions scam for $500 billion in damages. Her son had a 4.2 GPA and had applied to some of the colleges involved in the scam.

“I’m now outraged and hurt because I feel that my son, my only child, was denied access to a college not because he failed to work and study hard enough, but because wealthy individuals felt that it was okay to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college,” said Toy.  

Students also wasted money applying to schools where the system was rigged and they did not have a fair chance of being accepted.

A major part of the scandal was falsely claiming that a student played a sport that they never actually played before. Olivia Giannulli posed on rowing equipment to give the appearance that she was on the crew team in high school so she could be on the USC rowing team.

The scandal trickled down to colleges as well.  Coaches at several schools, including the University of Texas’ men’s tennis coach, Michael Center, who was fired shortly after, are connected to the college scam. Many students who play sports in college worked hard to get there and often receive scholarships to play. By bribing a coach to put someone on the team, a student was not accepted to the school, and may have lost the chance to play in college or a scholarship they needed.

Acceptance to a college or university requires ambition and perseverance. . I worked hard to get into colleges and receive scholarships. I did it without expensive tutoring or dishonesty. I had a 504 plan because of anxiety and depression, but that was it. It was stressful applying to colleges and waiting to hear back because this was going to determine my future.

This situation is  a horrible sign of “money is power” and privilege, that everyone involved with the scandal was willing to take away a hard-working student’s future. Mine was not taken away, but the fact that this could have happened to me is frightening.

At the time of writing, Loughlin, Giannulli and Huffman are out on bail. All three, as well as other defendants, are set to appear in a Boston federal court April 3 after having postponed the original day.

Hopefully, despite their celebrity status, Loughlin, Giannulli and Huffman will get their fair share of time. Everyone else involved will hopefully be locked away as well. Not much is known if students knew about what was going on, but if they did, they should be expelled.

Students who did not know what was going on, should not be punished for their parents mistakes if they are doing well at their respective schools. They did not do anything wrong and will be punished enough living every day knowing they were bribed into school and their parents are felons.

While not every school in America was part of the scam, it does show that the rich are sometimes willing to go too far to get their kids into college and those

who work for the college will allow bribery. The American school system is already faulty and this shows evidence of that, as well as making it look worse.

Cassidy Gaudes can be reached at cassidy.gaudes@spartans.ut.edu

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