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Criminalizing privilege: the college admissions scandal

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Surprise, surprise. The wealthy have found a way to turn a system that is already partial towards them into guaranteed chances of admission. What an absolute shocker. I imagine at this point you are aware of the high profile admissions scandal that took place in March. If not, essentially what took place is that wealthy parents were caught paying certain individuals up to half a million dollars to get their children into top colleges. This involved changing SAT scores in addition to bribing college coaches into identifying their children as top recruits in sports that they had never even played. While celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have received most of the scrutiny in the aftermath of the scandal, many more parents were involved in the dubious scheme.

As a person that has heavily researched the college admissions process both for school projects and just out of interest, I have looked into the legal ways that the wealthy use their resources to find a backdoor into the schools of their choice. Legacy admissions, large donations, contacts on admissions committees and expensive standardized test prep courses are just some of the ways that they are able to have a leg up that most other prospective students do not have access to.

The only surprise that may possibly result from this scandal is if the wealthy parents involved actually face more than a slap on the wrist. We have seen recently with Jussie Smollett just how lenient the criminal justice system can be when considering rich defendants. If Loughlin and Huffman receive considerable jail time for their crimes, it will mark a stark shift from what we have come to expect as a society. The criminal justice system has disproportionately affected minority populations and people of color. The bail system specifically has caused immense damage, allowing people who are not an immediate threat and will eventually be proved innocent to sit in jail. They often lose their jobs in the process, or at the very least are missing out on income they may have been making to better their quality of life.

This is why it is so odd to see a wealthy person such as Olivia Jade, Lori Loughlin’s daughter, lose her major stream of income in the form of revoked makeup and lifestyle sponsorships. As a social media personality, these sponsors were essentially her entire business model, so her career as in effect been impeded my her mother’s actions, which strikes as a clear reverse from what we often see, or rather do not see, get reported. Of course, I am not worried about her financial well being, nor should anyone else, because there are many more out there who deserve more of our sympathy than she does. This is especially true considering that she revealed recently how she only wanted to go to college in order to experience “tailgates” and other aspects of party culture.

The fundamental question that we will have to ask ourselves is whether or not we want this country to become more equal, and whether this recent scandal will serve as a lesson to change our past decisions in terms of justice or a continuation of what we have seen so far.

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