Celebrities Shock In College Admissions Scandals

Jaden Brumage, Reporter

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On March 12, 2019 United States federal prosecutors revealed that a group of 50 wealthy parents bribed top research universities and colleges in order to ensure that their children were admitted. These individuals were accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to colleges including Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California (USC), UCLA, and Georgetown, as well as bribing SAT and ACT proctors to assist their children with their answers and even change them to be correct. One parent even forced their child to pretend to have a learning disability in order to gain extra time and resources on these standardized tests. In addition, college coaches and recruiters were paid to recommend students to be admitted to several Division 1 teams. The students posed in athletic gear and were even photoshopped to make them look like star high school athletes when in reality they had never played. Actresses Lori Loughlin (best known for portraying Aunt Becky on Full House) and Felicity Huffman (best known for starring in Desperate Housewives) were among the most notable, allegedly paying up to $500,000 each in bribes, but others included prominent businessmen, CEOs, and entrepreneurs.

Some of the children claimed that they had no idea that their parents were involved in the scheme. They had to pose for the fake athletic photos. They had hired proctors helping them on the SATs. Of course they knew. Claiming that they didn’t is even more embarrassing. This is the problem with the social structure in America– the rich believe they can get away with everything until they get caught and plead ignorance. The rich are also able to pay their way out of most situations they find themselves in. Loughlin and Huffman were detained but paid their $1 million bail (which is like pocket change to them) and are seemingly back to their normal lives (with the exception of appearing in court, which they’ll likely pay their way out of). Let’s turn this around. If a poor family was accused of cheating in some way to get their children into school, there’s no doubt that they’d be thrown in jail with a hefty bail (that couldn’t be paid) and their children kicked out of the school. I’m sure this is just one of many bribery scandals that have occurred. It just happens that this one has been unearthed. It’s infuriating to think that there are other children out there that have achieved success at these top universities through privilege and wealth.

Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, was admitted to USC after her parents lied that she was on the crew team. Giannulli rose to fame with her beauty youtube channel, and has secured sponsorships from Tresemmé and Sephora. Because of her obviously inherited success and advantages, Giannulli claims that she was never interested in college and that her parents forced her to continue her education. In old youtube videos, Giannulli is seen complaining about school, claiming that she hates school and that “[she] went to one class and [wants] to die.” In another video, Giannulli explains that she’ll miss extended periods of time for work and that she “doesn’t know how much of school [she’s] going to attend.” She continues, “I want the experience of game days and partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys know.”

In the wake of the scandal, Giannulli lost her brand sponsorships and reportedly blames her parents for “ruining her career;” I’m personally very pleased that these beauty brands dropped Giannulli as quick as they could (it’s most likely a selfish business move though. Continuing to endorse her would hurt profits from ethical people). Giannulli is still (unfortunately) enrolled at USC, and most of the other children are still attending their respective schools. Multiple coaches, test proctors, and administrative leaders have been fired, placed on leave, or resigned. What is shocking is that Giannulli and others were not expelled. If you are caught cheating at USC, “sanctions of suspension or expulsion from the university may be assessed,” according to USC’s academic integrity policy. These students showed extremely low academic integrity when they cheated on the SAT/ACT to just get accepted in the first place (not to mention cheating through bribery). How have they not been expelled from the university?

Attending college is an individual choice, and it’s certainly not for everyone. There are other paths that can lead to success and happiness. But one thing is indisputable–college is not just for the social experience, and it’s certainly not just for going to games and partying. The social experience is an added bonus, but college is an expensive investment for people looking to expand their knowledge and potential. College is the opportunity for people of all different social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds to have equal opportunities to develop knowledge to help them in future careers (although the equality aspect may not always be there). Instead, this scandal has shown that we’re not all on an equal playing field. Giannulli, among others, stole spots from students looking to continue their education in an earnest way. The children and parents involved in this scandal unnecessarily cheated their way to the top. It’s clear that most children of celebrities and the wealthy are at an advantage. Giannulli and the other students were born just feet away from the finish line. And they still had to cheat the system.

Los Angeles Times
Lori Loughlin and her husband leave the courthouse after hearings for the college admissions scandal.

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