By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
Once the news, about the college admissions scandals sting, Operation Varsity Blues, broke, the scheme — wherein rich parents have been accused of paying a college preparation organization to take tests for students or to correct answers.
Additionally, the organization also bribed college coaches to dishonorably help students gain admission, as recruited athletes, irrespective of their abilities. In fact, the majority of the students, who enrolled as recruited athletes, did not participate in the sport, and federal documents implicate some defendants of initiating phony profiles, in order that students may present themselves as successful athletes.
Coaches, from several schools, including the University of Texas, University of Southern California and Stanford, were implicated in the alleged scheme. nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-fallout.html
The college admissions scandal is a symptom of an unfair system. However, I am somewhat astonished at the accompanying level of national naiveté, regarding the idea that people, with elevated fiscal means, would do such a thing. It takes place continuously.
In place has always been a flourishing and perfectly legal industry, in hiring private consultants, to mentor kids, from freshman or sophomore year in high school, right up until the Ivy league school of their or parent’s choice. Less fiscally-endowed parents can settle for a special class for their child in how to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test to improve scores.
It is no secret that, for years, the college admission process has been a scam of sorts. The investigative Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Daniel Golden, in his detonative book, THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: How America’s Ruling Class Buys its way into Elite Colleges, And Who Gets Left Besides the Gates, openly writes about the ways, in which moneyed parents secured their children’s acceptance to elite colleges, via hefty donations.
In one instance, he describes how Charles and Seryl Kushner, parents of Jared Kushner (Donald. Trump’s son-in-law), used two-and-a-half million dollars to secure Jared’s admission to Harvard. (The Kushners have denied that the gift was related to Jared’s admission.) www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/12/college-admissions-scam-kushner-harvard-acceptance-under-scrutiny/3147027002/
In his book, Golden exposes, along with grades and test scores, how the sons of former vice president, Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker, Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. Favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions, is scrutinized.
The U. S Attorney, Andrew Lelling, in announcing the bribery case, termed it the biggest college admission scam, ever prosecuted by the U. S Justice Department. Ironically the scam that fattened the pockets of the racketeers, to the tune of $25 million, was, in effect, from 2011, taking place right on American soil, in the face of the American justice and taxation systems. The operator of the scheme, William Singer, was the owner of a college-admissions consulting business, situated in opulent Newport Beach, California.
Singer, also the author of the book, “Getting In: Gaining Admission to the College of your Choice”, has been in the college prep business, since 1994.
In 2014, he founded a non-profit organization, named Key Worldwide, which purported to assist “disadvantaged students around the world”. The website said that it would “open doors” for young people, escaping troubles, such as gang violence.
In 2018, Singer became a witness for the government, and agreed to wear a wire; many of the conversations that are documented in the affidavit were recorded with his knowledge.
In 2012, according to court papers, he fused the “for-profit college counseling and preparation business”, based in Sacramento, with the state of California.
These indictments that appear to get America, once again, in a frenzy, are not to be viewed as scandals. Instead they are mere manifestations of the real issue that the country needs to focus on: the economic unfairness that is rooted into the educational system and the nation as a whole.
In America, for any issue to be properly addressed or receive any serious level or degree of consideration or examination, it is blatantly obvious that White America has to be affected, and the comfort zone of White families, businesses and reputations must be jeopardized. Indisputable circumstances must be as apparent as a blue sky after a storm has come, for America to consider the concerns that have been placed in front of her. Sad, but true.
The playing field was not level from the start, and for every student fraudulently admitted, a talented and genuinely honest student faced rejection. The wealthy felt that they were privileged and invincible.
The economic divide is once again laid bare, and America, naked and in her true colors, is being seen for the country she really is, as well as the moral and ethical make up of her inhabitants.
Birth is also destiny, as well as race, and that is an inescapable fact. The entire opprobrium is a perfect example of the entitlement that comes with wealth and privilege. The roots are also far-reaching, and already we have been aware of dastardly acts, perpetrated by individuals, whose parents shielded them for being taught life’s valuable lessons.
In politically-correct parlance, now that the scam has seized the attention of the public, the message parents are transmitting to their kids is that they (the parents) lack the confidence that the child is capable of success, based on his/her skills and hard work and strong enough to come to grips with failures. Parental insecurity, at its best, coupled with a sense of entitlement on account of wealth.
Let us not believe that America is the only country caught in this academic quagmire. I am certain, although being the graduate of a prestigious university, that similar behavior still exists or has existed in Canada, and worldwide. The latest scam revelation may just be the tip of the iceberg, of which time would serve as the reporter.
And while the call is reiterated for a re-evaluation of the college admission practices, another call should be made for parents, especially those suffering from “affluenza”, to re-examine themselves, from a moral and ethical stance, with a view to recognizing that it is their kids, not them, who must find their passions, and pursue their own dreams, for a happy and fulfilling life.
While money may get their child through the door to academic fame, it cannot repair the damage, caused by public shame. It is blatantly clear, that paying for admission to Ivy League universities, is totally unfair.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.