Federal authorities have revealed that celebrities and wealthy parents have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their children into elite universities as part of a nationwide college admissions scandal. This March charges have been filed against 50 people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin for their involvement in the bribery scheme. The Full House star Lori Loughlin and many others are being hit with money laundering charges in this college admissions bribery scheme. A scheme that involves rigging college entrance exams and bribing coaches at elite universities.
Let’s take a step back and go in depth about the importance of obtaining college degrees in this era. There is a rise in demand for skilled workers, as many jobs are requiring for their employees to at least have a GED or High School Diploma to get hired, however, these jobs are not the most convenient or preferred job by most people. Jobs that the average person desire require further education past high school, meaning college or technical schooling. The pay offs are vastly different depending on the schooling and capital a person has. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Full-time workers without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $515, compared with $718 for high school graduates and $1,189 for those with a bachelor’s degree. Full-time workers with advanced degrees [ such as professional or master’s degree] had median weekly earnings of $1,451.” This proves that the people involved in this corruption are trying to get something else rather than just a higher education with bribing their way into universities. They are paying admissions to put their kids in positions to get better jobs.
Lauren Loughlin’s payoffs were being passed off as donations to a charity devoted to serving underprivileged kids. Theses donations gave her children admission as athletic recruits, even though the children never played the sport. This is unethical as her children that have never played the sport are taking up slots from potential actual recruits that have dreams of playing college athletics. However this is not the only way parents wealth is getting children into elite universities, according to reporters for The Guardian “Felicity Huffman, the 56-year-old Emmy-winner who starred in ABC’s Desperate Housewives, was accused of paying $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to have a proctor correct the answers on her daughter’s SAT”. This is crucial as SAT is one of the standardized tests that is imposed when applying at any University around the country. These tests are looked at as a fair chance for any student to prove their knowledge regardless of what high school transcripts might say.
The first thing one should notice about these cases is that the parents are not being taken to court for bribery this is because the federal bribery law, does not cover the situations with these celebrities. Given the importance of college these days, Congress should put together a new law covering bribery for college admissions. This brings the cases to the honest services law, which according to the Congressional Research services the law states 18 United States Code § 1346, which says, “For the purposes of this chapter, the term ‘scheme or artifice to defraud’ includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” Concluding, Loughlin and others have violated this law by bribing admissions to get their children to elite colleges, thereby depriving other students of slots they would have earned through honest means.
Although it is important that everyone should go to the school of their dreams, they need to get there lawfully and honestly. If they really want something, they need to work hard for it and enroll the honest way because if they do not, they are taking away slots from potential students. Which will, further down the line, cripple their chances of getting their dream job. This has already harmed a handful of truly talented athletes who lost their places in a college’s freshman class to a student whose athletic record was faked with bribes and corruption. The issue goes further than just admissions as well. The moral issue is that these admissions can be costing other students their dream job and future plans. This issue is affecting many students like me and my classmates because when they graduate and get their degree through bribery, they are taking away opportunities and jobs from millions in college. This is because they are looked as a priority over others because of there Ivy League schooling and degree.
Information has been gathered by the New York Times 2017 Analysis that states “at 38 colleges, including Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania, there are more students from the top 1 percent of families by income than the bottom 60 percent (families making $65,000 or less per year)”. This is a significant difference in the number of children whose parents are at the top 1 percent of wealth versus children whose parents are at the bottom 60 percent. This shows that although all admissions from the top 1 percent are not through bribery there needs to be more investigations on staff and coaches to make sure honest services are being enforced. Legacy preference is another factor why these universities are accepting these bribes. These colleges are not accepting bribes from just any average person they are giving preference to certain applicants on the basis of their familial relationship which is “Legacy preference”. This is a problem because it under mines diversity, it doesn’t acknowledge merit and it is unfair.
College admissions corruption is unethical, and congress should take action to penalize those who continue to do so. Parents are not just paying for their children to get higher education; they are bribing their way to degrees that will give their children advantages in the job industry. They are taking away slots in admissions from people who apply through honest means. They are breaking the honest services law but also need to be charged with bribery and for taking away opportunity from millions of people.
A solution to this corruption is that Congress cut tax breaks to institutions that are being caught in this scandal. Big honest private donors can also enforce college institutions to be more diverse and enroll low income students and threaten to cut funding if they are caught in a scandal.
- Boston, Associated Press in. “Lori Loughlin among Parents Facing New Charges in College Bribery Case.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Apr. 2019, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/09/college-bribery-lori-loughlin-money-laundering-charge.
- “Bribery, Kickbacks, and Self-Dealing: An Overview of Honest Services Fraud and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service, 30 Jan. 2019, fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45479.pdf.
- Gerstmann, Evan. “What The Charges In The College Admissions Scandal Really Mean.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10 Apr. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/evangerstmann/2019/04/10/what-the-charges-in-the-college-admissions-scandal-really-mean/#40b5acfa1f4b.
- “High School Graduates Who Work Full Time Had Median Weekly Earnings of $718 in Second Quarter.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 July 2017, www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/high-school-graduates-who-work-full-time-had-median-weekly-earnings-of-718-in-second-quarter.htm.
- “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/upshot/some-colleges-have-more-students-from-the-top-1-percent-than-the-bottom-60.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Trending&version=Full®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article.