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The Privilege Behind “Operation Varsity Blues”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Belmont chapter.

I’m sure that by now, you’ve heard plenty about Lori Loughlin, aka Aunt Becky from Full House, and her alleged bribery used to get her two daughters into the University of California (USC). This story is the only thing surfacing on our news platforms this week, as Loughlin and former Desperate Housewives star, Felicity Huffman, have been caught in one of the largest college admissions scandals to date. Huffman and Loughlin are now facing serious punishments, and their children are being affected more than one would think. Loughlin’s, however, are much more in the public eye.

Lori Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, is a social media influencer. She has a very popular YouTube channel, with over 2 million subscribers, and 1.4 million followers on Instagram. She was caught talking about how she doesn’t care about school and only cares about “game days and partying” in one of her videos, which sparked controversy in itself. She would be heading off to the University of Southern California (USC) in the fall, which falls at about an 18 percent acceptance rate. I used to really enjoy her channel on YouTube, as I love makeup and fashion as much as the next girl. Now, I’m starting to question a lot of the things that I liked about Olivia Jade to begin with.I remember when that video surfaced, and I also remember thinking, “If she doesn’t care about school, how is she getting into USC?” I have a friend from high school who goes to USC, and he fought tooth and nail to get in there, as I’m sure he does to keep his grades up. I wondered if there were any way that in-state students had a leg up on out-of-state students. But I wasn’t sure, as I’m from New Jersey, and not many people make the trek across the country to go there for college.

I also recall videos from even earlier, when Olivia Jade used to brag about the fact that she skipped school a lot, and how she once again, “didn’t care.” I looked it up, and she actually went to the same high school as all three Kardashian women. Now what do all of these girls have in common? They all grew up in wealthy households, and they never really heard the word “no.”

This is a huge problem in our society today, as a lot of parents set their children up with amazing education and resources. This is the goal of any parent, but cheating your way into an elite college is taking a step that is way too far. The spots that Olivia Jade and her sister, Bella, took at USC could have gone to someone who stayed up all night doing homework and working hard at what matters in high school: grades.

And was it worth it? It was reported that Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid over $500,000 to get both of their daughters into USC. They had them pose as crew team recruits, when neither of them actually participated in crew. If you really think about it, colleges like that cost around $50,000 to $60,000 a year, and when you add all four years together, it would cost between $200,000 to $240,000 for each daughter to attend USC for an entire college career. This totals to $400,000 to $480,000, which is $20,000 to $100,000 less than what they paid to get in. Loughlin and Giannulli essentially were going to pay about a million dollars so that their daughters could go to a top college in which, honestly, they probably wouldn’t have had a fighting chance to get into without the bribe.

And the losses that they are facing are worth far more than going to USC. Olivia Jade’s YouTube channel had earned her plenty of sponsorships, such as collaborations with Sephora and Amazon. She lost those following the scandal. She has been losing a lot of followers and subscribers as well. Her mother, once a beloved actress on one of the most prized American television shows to date, has lost all of her collaborations with the Hallmark Channel, and her role on the Full House reprise, Fuller House. And recently, it was reported that Olivia Jade and Bella Giannulli would be dropping out of USC due to fear of being bullied by their peers.

In the end, was the value of getting into USC over another college as important as it seemed? No. The cost of losing a career that was literally set up for you over this scandal is worth far more than having USC printed on your diploma. This entire situation really sheds light on the social injustice in our world, and how money can get to anyone’s head to make them think that they are better than the normal people, who got into college fair and square and who stayed up all night studying for their tests in high school.

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Kaila Divak

Belmont '21

Hi friends! I'm Kaila, I'm a sophomore Music Business major from New Jersey. I love classic rock, comedy, film, dogs, and reading. I am super into traveling and spontaneous adventures, too! I'm always here if you need a good laugh.