“Operation Varsity Blues”- What It Means to Me

As heartbroken as I was to hear that Full House alum Lori Loughlin was involved in a multi-million-dollar college admissions scam, I am mostly filled with anger and disappointment now. News broke on March 12th that Loughlin and about 50 other wealthy parents were charged with felony crimes like mail fraud and bribery as they paid for their children to get into elite schools across the country. Loughlin’s two daughters go to University of Southern California and were illegitimately recruited to be on the women’s rowing team, despite having zero experience in the physically-demanding sport. Some of the other schools involved in the scandal were Stanford, Yale, and Georgetown.

 

Loughlin, her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, and fellow actress Felicity Huffman are just some of the A-Listers indicted in the scam. Huffman payed Georgetown $15,000 to accept her daughter into their undergraduate program while Loughlin and Giannulli shelled out half a million for their daughters to be accepted into USC as student-athletes. Others paid around the same amounts. Besides the mass amounts of cash, the prospective students’ faces were superimposed onto bodies of actual athletes to make it seem like they had some experience worthy of recruitment and had their SAT/ACT tests doctored to get desirable scores.

Rick Singer, the “Operation Varsity Blues” mastermind, carried out the sting operation and is now being charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, money laundering, and racketeering. Multiple school officials, standardized test administrators, coaches, and athletic recruiters have been let go from their respective schools/companies. Court proceedings in Boston are expected to take place within the coming weeks.

 

Like I said, my initial reaction was shock at the fact that sweet Aunt Becky from Full House and its spin-off Fuller House was involved with any kind of wrong-doing. I know it’s silly to conflate a character and the actor/actress, but I couldn’t help it, Loughlin was so wholesome. And it’s not like she’s scum now, she just had the means to go out of her way to give her children certain opportunities. I’m not questioning the love that these parents have for their children and wanting to give them the best life possible. For someone like me, however, the most heartbreaking part about this scandal is knowing that some students didn’t get into/couldn’t attend their dream schools because someone else paid to have their spot.

 

Growing up the way that I did, I was taught that hard-work and determination are some of the greatest characteristics to have. Because of this, I have always worked above and beyond in school, at work, and at home. I see the same drive in my friends and other people from my community. During the college application process, I had many chances to go to good schools because I put the time and effort into opening those doors. I am so beyond glad that I ended up at Denison, but I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for scholarships and financial aid. A lot of people cannot realistically go to any college that they want because of finances or athletics, and quite frankly it’s insulting to kids that work their butts off to see that some of their peers were guaranteed a spot because of mommy and daddy’s money.

 

I am not a college athlete, so I cannot speak to the intensity of honing your skills for years and years, being recruited, and earning an athletic scholarship (not to mention the work that it takes after you’ve accepted your spot). However, I know enough to say that getting a spot on an elite team like USC’s crew team would be the chance of a lifetime. It’s one thing to be beat out by another athlete, whom the coaches genuinely see a slightly greater potential, but it’s another thing to be beat out by a rich kid who has never played that sport a day in his/her life. That must be devastating. Not only did the children of the men and women involved in the cheating scandal rip spots away from deserving individuals, but they stripped them of educational opportunities at those institutions. That disgusts me.

 

My priorities involve my family, my friends, and my education. I value my education so much and that gratitude is only strengthened by the fact that I’ve worked so hard to get here. I’m sure many of my fellow students would express similar sentiments. I hope that all students who want a higher education can find some way of getting one, but I hope that it can be done in an authentic way.