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  • Writer's pictureEMMA MOCK ‘19

Operation Varsity Blues

While most seniors in high school are making exciting decisions about where to attend college next year and college students are cramming for exams or on spring break, other new or soon-to-be college students are currently being charged with fraudulent admission. In recent weeks, there has been a massive admissions scandal, involving over 50 individuals and 10+ colleges and universities.

(From left to right: actress Lori Loughlin, CEO William Rick Singer, and television star Felicity Huffman)

Orchestrated by CEO William Rick Singer and using the code name “Operation Varsity Blues,” this scheme involved either cheating on the SAT or ACT or lying about athletic involvement to increase these students’ potential of getting accepted. In return for his services, Singer charged parents between $200 thousand and $6.5 million, which he laundered as charitable contributions through his shell nonprofit, Key World Foundation.

In response to the outbreak of this scandal, the U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts has charged 50 individuals, including 33 parents and 13 coaches, while Singer faces up to 65 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

Beyond legal repercussions, this corruption within the college admissions process has sparked outrage among parents and students across the country. The use of wealth, connections, and privilege to bypass the system has placed these children in colleges for which they are not qualified and in the place of other students who independently sought admission. SUA senior Anna Haught conveys her frustrations with this scandal from the perspective of someone currently in the college admissions process:

“It’s discouraging to hear about parents buying their children’s way into colleges and universities because, as seniors, we all work hard on our applications and college essays. This hard work is completed with the motivation of getting into our dream schools, but it seems that other students can just buy their way in.”

Out of the anger and upset over this controversy, a new conversation about preventing this from happening again is beginning to emerge. Colleges involved, such as University of Southern California and Wake Forest University, have shared statements about further investigations to redeem the integrity of their institutions, beginning with firing athletic coaches that helped Singer. Margaret Berding ‘19 shares that she thinks “the college admissions scandal proves to students that nothing will go unnoticed in the long run and that honesty is always the way to go.”

With a total of $25 million involved in the entire scandal and a lack of clarity on how to proceed with the students who were accepted through Operation Varsity Blues, this topic will continue to be of interest in the following weeks. Even if you are already committed to attending a college next year, or are a freshman and not worried about this process yet, it is important to stay updated about these cases because they will most likely affect college admissions in the future.

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