Lost jobs, money, and maybe even freedom. The college admissions scandal that broke around the country towards the end of March, has led to some families pleading guilty to the charges of fraud. However, multiple people are still trying to clear up their names by pleading not guilty.
Convicted individuals risk prison time, fees, and scorched reputations. A total of roughly 50 individuals were charged including 33 parents, [most of which are high profile], athletic coaches, and the mastermind behind it all, William Singer.
Beyond those explicitly involved in the scandal, students attending the universities involved have also been left picking up the pieces. Many are wondering how this could affect the name attached to their degrees.
“We all were kinda upset because we think that this really did hurt the name of our school. We all just hoped that it wouldn’t drag the value of our university and education down,” Jasmine Rivera, University of Southern California student said.
Students who were accepted based on their own merit are also worried that they are being judged simply based on the school they attend.
“Right after the news broke out I remember wearing a USC jacket in public and I was getting weird looks from adults. I had people staring at me and all I could think was I hope they don’t think I paid my way in,” Rivera added. “There were at least four people just in my dorm building that had been exposed.”
So far, most of the news regarding the fate of the charged has been focused famously on the two, “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman and “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin.
Felicity Huffman, was arrested and then released on a $250,000 bond in March and appeared in court on Monday to enter her plea. Huffman plead guilty to helping her daughter cheat on the SAT by paying $15,000 dollars to a fake charity that facilitated the cheating.
According to CNN, prosecutors pushed for four months in prison, a $20,000 fine, and mandatory parole for 12 months after prison. She will be sentenced on September 13. Huffman’s husband, “Shameless” actor, William H. Macy will not being charged in this case.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly,” Huffman stated.
Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli are being charged. The couple allegedly paid to have fake athletic profiles made for their two daughters; Isabella and Olivia. The daughters had fake crew profiles made in order for them to gain admission to USC through the rowing team.
According to the Washington Post, Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have decided to plead not guilty to two counts related to fraudulent actions and money laundering. The couple, parents of popular social media influencer Olivia Giannulli, have become the main focus of this scandal.
This is due to the fame of not only both parents, but their influential daughter Olivia Jade. According to CNN, Mossimo Giannulli had his buisness manager pay USC’s senior assosciate athletic director $50,000. Later, Giannulli and Loughlin allegedly wired $200,000 to William Singer’s fake charity. The Washington Post stated that the couple could end up spending years in prison if convicted after pleading not guilty.
Their daughter Olivia Jade has reportedly moved out of her family home in hopes to escape the media circus surrounding the scandal. She has also stopped attending the University of Southern California. Olivia has lost brand deals with Sephora, Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Smile Direct Club, Too Faced Cosmetics, Boohoo, and Unilever’s TRESemmé according to Variety writer Todd Spangler.
“It’s frustrating that we’re continuing to be chastised scandal after scandal for things that don’t represent the student body as a whole,” Noah Aulerich, USC student stated.
Although the two cases mentioned above are only two among a total of 33, this is not the first time wealthy parents have been accused of funding fabricated test scores and athletic credentials. Far beyond those charged, ringleader William Singer claimed on his website that he had helped thousands of clients. However, it is unclear whether all of his clients were breaking rules the same way those charged were.
“I think it’s unfortunate that capitalism determines who gets to go to schools with the high tuition prices, and now they have to factor in people who pay just to be accepted. That is no way to put yourself in an accepting light as a school or as a nation of schools,” Madelyn Walker, UCLA transfer student said. “I would say there is a lot of room for improvement for higher education in the U.S. Knowledge is not a commodity but a right.”
The fame of families, like the Huffmans and the Giannullis, have overshadowed the fact that this situation is happening with more families at different schools around the nation. Just down the street in Westwood, at UCLA, a scandal similar to those of the two famous families surfaced.
Student Lauren Isackson was recruited to attend the school in 2016 as a women’s soccer player, even though she had no experience playing soccer. According to CBS Los Angeles, the Isackson family paid mastermind Rick Singer 2,150 shares of Facebook, which is valued around 251,000 dollars, to create a fake profile for their daughter to be recruited onto the UCLA women’s soccer team.
“I think the problem really stems from the social push to get into these types of schools, for everyone involved. For some reason now, there’s this widespread general anxiety that if students don’t go to one of the ‘best schools’ and make the ‘best connections’ that they will somehow be less fortunate later down the road or be presented with less opportunities.” said Micheal Lima-Sabatini, UCLA student. “Where you go is not who you’ll be.”
“There are absolutely people who take advantage of every opportunity they have here at UCLA, like getting involved with research and joining clubs and Greek life and making the most of the experience. But there are also students who have the world at their fingertips here and are still totally comfortable just going to class, sometimes not even that, getting the grades and calling it a day after ten weeks,” Lima-Sabatini added.
The Washington Post reported that 14 of the families are leaning towards guilty pleas and the other 19 are still trying to clear their names. Although these individuals have been charged, higher education has shown to be a privilege afforded by the wealthy and an ongoing struggle for the poor. This scandal represents only a portion of the classist system that is higher education.