Why the Lori Loughlin College Scandal is Bigger Than You Might Think

Full House star Lori Loughlin has been a popular name in the news recently after being indicted in an alleged college admissions scam. While it may seem like a straight-forward issue or unimportant to some, this scandal is more important than we think. It is one of many. If you are not familiar with the scam, it boils down to one simple point: money controls education.

Students with wealthy parents and children of celebrities have an advantage over people from lower income households. Wealthy parents can use their finances to persuade universities and dictate outcomes involving admissions to higher education institutions. The FBI found evidence of 32 celebrities and/or wealthy people who used their economic status to “bribe college entrance exam administrators to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams; bribe varsity coaches and administrators at elite universities to designate certain applicants as recruited athletes or as other favored candidates, thereby facilitating the applicants’ admission to those universities; and to use the facade of a charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribe payments.”

Some forms of bribery helped students cheat on standardized tests, earn unearned college grades, receive athletic scholarships, influence graduation rates and most importantly, dictate college admissions. These people are paying for their child’s elite education, and in doing so, they cheat out the students who work hard despite lack of finances.

One parent, Jennifer Toy, even sued Loughlin and Felicity Huffman for $500 billion, accusing them for being the reason her son was rejected from USC. Toy claimed in her class action suit that her son was “rejected because of the alleged bribes of other parents. He was denied access to college not because he failed to work and study hard, but because wealthy individuals felt that it was ok to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college.” Toy’s son, Joshua, reported having a 4.2 GPA, yet was still rejected from USC. Other parents in the scam used their wealth to bribe universities including USC, Yale, Stanford and Georgetown.

After hearing about Loughlin’s $500,000 involvement in efforts to influence both of her children’s admission decisions, USC took immediate action. They blocked students linked to the scandal from enrolling in classes or obtaining transcripts. It does not seem fair, though, that the school at large is not punished; instead, blame and lawsuits are placed on individuals who bribed the universities. This sends an unclear message: it is ethical to accept a bribe, but unethical to make one? Why must the university be allowed to keep the bribes instead of putting the money—which cannot be returned to the briber—toward scholarships for more economically challenged students?

If that does not arouse your curiosity, hearing about the other filthy, indicted individuals will. The FBI affidavit contained many interesting stories from witnesses, banks and universities detailing the bribes they received. One account describes a CEO’s son cheating on the ACT and wiring money through a charity to pay for it.

Jane Buckingham, CEO of a boutique marketing company is LA, agreed to make a charitable donation of $50,000 to Kew Worldwide Foundation (KWF) in exchange for disclosed witness “CW” to take the ACT in place of her child. Buckingham asked the Houston Test Center if she could obtain the standardized test and have her son take the exam at home, where she would proctor. This is unfair. Personally, I had to sit in a stank high school to take the ACT, where the proctor was strict and smelled like eggs. But add a little money in the mix and my proctor could have been my mother? Or someone who would not enforce the “no cellphones” rule? That is unfair.

Below is the dialogue between CW and Buckingham. Warning: you may hate standardized tests and rich people after reading the following dialogue.

CW: The score.

BUCKINGHAM: What I would do is, I would say to you, can you give me a test for him to take at home that we proctor him, that I proctor him?

CW: Got it, got it. Okay, yeah, I guess we could do we could do something like that.

B: I mean that’s just, I guess, and it’s the only thing I can think of, if you think it’s doable?

CW: Yeah, I just talked to Niki, the gal at the Houston Test Center, and she is back on the 25th of July. Let me call Niki and ask her if she would have a problem with me just doing this.

B: Yeah.

CW: Which would actually make it easier for him to do it, because it would take less time, but let me call Niki right now and see what she says.

[Later that same day, CW called BUCKINGHAM to tell her that Niki was willing to go along with B’s plan. The following are two excerpts from the conversation.]

CW: Okay, so here’s the deal. Niki is is willing to do it. We are looking for my, correct, that we are trying to get ourselves like 34 on the ACT?

B: Yeah, yeah.

CW: So, I will do that. It’s really, it can be a 33, it could be a 34, it could be a 35.

B: Right.

CW: But, so, anyways, so the, she said she would do it, she would send us a copy of the test that we’re gonna take. And then, even though we’re already gonna send in his test, there at least your son will have taken the same test.

B: Thank you, thank you.

CW: Okay, so your donation is gonna be 50. It’ll end up being through our foundation.

B: Okay.

CW: And I’m already sending a check to the proctor today, and to Niki today, because she said, ‘I gotta have the money first.’

B: Yeah. I know this is craziness, I know it is. And then I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and make peace in the Middle East.

CW: I can do that, I can do that if you can figure out a way to boot your husband out so that he treats you well.

B: That’s impossible. That’s impossible. But, you know, peace in the Middle East. You know, Harvard, the rest of it. I have faith in you.

CW: Got it, got it. Alright, so I will tell you now that he’s just gonna pick it up from Niki, take it, and Niki will send us a copy, and then your son can take it sometime next week when he’s feeling better. Will you send me where and how I should send the check?

B: Yeah.

CW: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll send it so that you get your IRS tax write-off.

B: Oh, even better!

CW: Yeah, it will be, it will be through the, our foundation, our 501(c)(3), and then we’ll send the checks to all the parties.

B: Ok.

CW: And that way you, there’s no, people aren’t saying, ‘Well, why did you send a check to the Houston Test Center?’ and da da da.

B: Right, right.

On July 18, 2018, Buckingham wired $35,000 to a bank account in the name of the KWF charity, the rest would be sent after. Her “son” scored a 35 out of 36 on the ACT. Unbelievable.

Loughlin and Buckingham are two pieces of a large, corrupt puzzle. A puzzle that has a few pieces reserved for Trump, because if Elon Musk and Kathy Ramson went to UPenn, how the heck did Tiffany Trump? The only rational answer that explains an unsuccessful model sharing an alma mater with a Doctor of Nursing: money.

*Any political views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of Her Campus or the University of Pittsburgh.*

Picture Credits: cover

Sources: 1, 2, 3 (FBI affidavit transcript)