Yesterday, news broke that the FBI uncovered a $25 million college admission cheating scandal. According to the New York Times, authorities charged 50 people in taking part of a nationwide scheme to game the admissions process at highly competitive schools such as Yale and University of California at Los Angeles. The Justice Department has named the scandal its largest ever college admissions prosecution.
The FBI investigation, code named Operation Varsity Blues, involved parents spending thousands of dollars to boost their children’s chances of being accepted into top-tier schools by paying people to take college entrance exams on their children’s behalf, bribing exam administrators to allow the cheating to happen, and bribing college administrators and athletic coaches to identify applicants as recruited athletes—despite their athletic abilities, according to The Root.
Those charged include wealthy and powerful parents, including Lori Loughlin – famously known for her role as Aunt Becky on Full House – as well as Felicity Huffman, most known from her role as Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives. The two actresses, 33 other parents, and 9 college coaches are being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.
Image Credit: New York Daily News
While this scandal may come as a shock to many, I’m not surprised at all.
Since I began school at the age of five, I lived in constant fear that nothing I did academically would ever be good enough. My white and wealthier classmates would get more opportunities and recognition than my Black peers and I despite not being as equally equipped intellectually. Although I knew I may not receive as many opportunities, recognition, or scholarships as my white classmates, I still strived and told myself, “If they can do it, you can do it.”
When it came time for to apply to colleges, not only did my guidance counselor not give a crap about helping me find the right schools based on my great academics, I was told I would never get into the “elite” schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or even UNC-Chapel Hill or Duke – universities less than an hour away from my hometown. In my eyes, my guidance counselor and admissions representatives from these institutions wanted to accept students who parents would throw money and give up whatever dollars they could to help their child get into the school. As a Black girl of a single parent household whose mother’s lost her job and an absentee father who passed away her senior year, there was no way I could give in the capacity that some of my white classmates’ parents could.
I didn’t have the resources or opportunities, nor was I ever considered for them.
Although my guidance said I couldn’t get into certain schools, I still pushed myself and applied to “top-ranked schools” and took whatever SAT prep courses I could so I could get accepted. When I was rejected, I felt my fears of not being good enough academically all come crashing down at once. It was no longer my fear, but my reality.
The college admissions scandal proves that my fears were valid. It’s a prime example of white privilege and how white students are constantly at an advantage when applying to colleges over black and brown students.
My heart doesn’t just break for the me who I was when I applied to colleges, it also breaks for all the black, brown, and low-income students who make it to schools like Georgetown University, Stanford, and Wake Forest and are made to feel as if they don’t deserve to be there, while so many wealthy students have their parents practically buy their way into these schools.
Instead of the parents and coaches involved in the scandal help find the students tutors to help with the standardized tests, they decide to take away the opportunity from well-deserving students to be accepted into what our country calls “prestigious institutions”.
I don’t empathize nor do I feel sorry for anyone involved in the scandal. Affirmative action has to be taken into consideration to prevent situations like this from happening. It levels the playing field so that EVERYONE, not just a small group of people, has an opportunity.
Affirmative action isn’t problematic unless we make it. At this point, it shouldn’t be a choice, but a requirement.