By now you have probably seen the headlines: Celebrities among those charged with cheating to get their kids into elite universities.
Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are the celebrities. The actresses, along with dozens more, have been charged with greasing the wheels with bribe money to ensure their children were selected for admission to schools such as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Texas, Wake Forest and the University of Southern California.
The scheme was allegedly run by a guy named Rick Singer through a company called Edge College & Career Network of Newport Beach, Calif. He's cooperating and says more than 750 students from "the wealthiest families in the U.S." benefitted from his "side door" help in admissions.
Parents would pay from a few thousand to have a ringer take their teen's college entrance exam up to the hundreds of thousands to bribe coaches to fake sterling high school athletic records—even if the kid had never played the sport.
While the two actresses make this seem like a Hollywood scheme, most of the parents are successful in other fields, including food and beverage packaging, casino operations, retail merchandising, marketing, warehousing and real estate. A dentist and lawyer show up on the list of those charged. Several college coaches as well. Charges range from mail fraud to conspiracy to commit racketeering.
The universities claim they are victims in this case. And we suppose that's true in a sense. After all, they weren't getting the money and that probably rankles them. But they set the stage for this kind of thing. For generations, elite schools have been running their own pay for admission scheme—all perfectly legal of course. Wealthy alumni build buildings, endow chairs and make huge donations to ensure their children and grandchildren—"legacies" in the vernacular—get special treatment and preferred placement. How dare anyone else cut into the gravy train?
That aside, let's look at the real victims in the case. For every student whose parents paid for admission, there's another student who earned his way to those schools but was not admitted. The same can be said about the "legacies." Who can blame so many these days for feeling the system is rigged against them?
None of this should come as a surprise. Those with the cash have always paid for special treatment, preferred access in just about everything. The real question is is all the hoopla over the arrests just another dog and pony show or, if convicted, will these privileged folks actually pay any significant penalty for what they've done?