One little tidbit from the FBI and DOJ’s investigation known as Operation Varsity Blues that hasn’t received much attention is the fact that William “Rick” Singer gamed affirmative action consideration to get the students into college. The con artist faked the racial and ethnic identification of students in the pay for play college admissions scandal. In other words, Singer was following the example of Elizabeth “Fauxchahontas” Warren when submitting college applications for the children of the wealthy and connected.
So, not only did the college applications contain phony photoshopped photographs of the students participating in sports and activities but the applications also used racial and ethnic quota considerations to move the students forward in the process. What could go wrong? Prosecutors didn’t go into detail on the accusation. I assume Singer didn’t claim Asian ethnicity on the applications as that is part of another Ivy League scandal all in itself.
But in a scheme reminiscent of the 1986 comedy flick “Soul Man,” Singer led admissions officials to believe that some students were worthy of affirmative action priority — even when they were not.
Singer was guilty of “lying about students’ ethnicities and other biographical information in an attempt to take advantage of perceived benefits from affirmative action and other programs,” Rosen told the judge Tuesday, according to a transcript.
I’m not a fan of affirmative action policies and I think the original intent of giving the less privileged in society a helping hand up by creating a more even playing field in school admissions has long outlived its usefulness. Now, however, proponents of affirmative action will point to this scam and declare affirmative action is needed more than ever to counter the abuses employed by the wealthy. The Operation Varsity Blues scandal shows how easily affirmative action quotas can be manipulated if enough money is offered in the mix. The corruption in the college admissions process keeps going deeper and deeper. It is breathtaking.
Sure, we all know that money plays a part in some students getting accepted to their school of choice. Wealthy parents used to just donate money toward a new building on campus or sponsoring endowments and fellowships. There is also the long-established benefit available by many schools of allowing admissions based solely on legacy – a student is admitted because of the advantage of having a parent who is an alumnus of the school. This scandal, though, is literally the epitome of what is wrong with college admissions policies. The parents had to have known if their child’s application checked the box that would lead to affirmative action consideration. Not only didn’t these parents just do it the old-fashioned way and simply cut a big enough check directly to the school of choice, they actively lied (allegedly!) about family ancestry. How proud grandma and grandpa must be now.
Photoshopping the applicant’s way into special consideration through sports participation is bad enough. Lying about family history is a whole new layer. The worst part of all, though, is that some of these kids didn’t even want to go to the college their parents bought their way into. It was all about the goals of the parents, not the kids. The corrupt schools and coaches were only too willing to take their money. Qualified students were tossed aside and lost their chance for admission. This part of the story needs more discussion.