College admissions conspiracy highlights corruption, privilege

News of perhaps the largest college admissions scandal in the United States broke on Tuesday March 12. More than 50 wealthy parents were involved in a bribery scheme that allowed their unqualified children admission to some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities. 

This conspiracy is a blatant example of economic inequality and shines a light on just how corrupt the elite college admissions process can be. 

Some of these criminal acts in question include cheating on entrance exams and bribing college officials to say prospective students were athletic recruits when they were not actually athletes at all, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said in Boston federal court, according to the Chicago Tribune.  “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I’ll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either.”

For example, actress Lori Loughlin and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 in bribes so their two daughters would be designated as recruits on the University of Southern California’s crew team, even though they would not have to participate on the team once they got to the college, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A senior private equity investor whose work focuses on social responsibility and philanthropy, Bill McGlashan, tried to bribe USC’s athletic director, paid off a test proctor to correct his son’s ACT exam for a higher grade and photoshopped his son so it looked like he was a football recruit. Society trusts people like McGlashan to make the world a better place and to donate money; all of the immense power and resources these people have are being squandered on cheating and increasing educational inequality. 

The rich and the famous who participated in this scheme used their privilege to corrupt the system, giving their children a place at schools that they did not earn and taking spots away from deserving students who were not fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to break the law.