The Hushed Perspective
By now we have all heard about the notorious 2019 college admissions scandal involving some of America’s most famed and fortuned. Elite stars like Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin, and Jane Buckingham have been charged for bribing university officials with large amounts of money in order to get their ~unqualified~ children accepted into programs of their choosing, ranging from prestigious academics to division one athletics. However, we aren’t here to go over every minute detail of the scandal. If you’re looking for that, you can find everything you need to know by checking out various news sites, angry Twitter feeds, Youtube compilations, and aggressive Instagram comments.
The hard facts of this scandal have been published over and over again, but this is where the problem actually begins. Where are the competent students’ thoughts? Or the voices of the experienced and qualified athletes who represent these rigorous divisions? How about the views of the faculty who have the inside scoop on this great money-making system and all of the corrupt divides embedded within? The reality is, they are absent from the media. Their representation is nonexistent. Don’t fret though-- Jerk is here to provide you with firsthand perspectives from those operating at the heart of the American university system.
They aren’t happy.
To get some new perspectives, we went and interviewed a plethora of individuals from different schools who are living in and experiencing the university system first hand, ranging from student athletes to professors. Almost all have requested to remain anonymous. This tells us that the threat of punishment from higher university officials looms over all of them.
So much for free speech.
This unethical fear, instilled by higher-ups in the university system, is also at the heart of the scandal. As you will soon see, most interviewees recognize the division between the privileged rich and the oppressed poor, but they don’t quite have the confidence to speak out against it, for fear of retaliation.
The hush hush nature of the American university system is cataclysmic and will continue to be problematic until major changes take place. Perhaps this scandal will be the change it desperately needs. But then again, we live in a society that favors the wealthy, and it would be naïve to think that this institutional pattern would end over one little scandal.
Now, what we’ve all been waiting for, let’s first take a look at what our student athletes had to say about this issue.
What were your first thoughts when you found out that both of Lori Loughlin’s daughters were allowed onto the division 1 USC crew team because their parents paid the athletic department off?
Interviewee 1- Anonymous D3 Rower:
“At first I laughed because it was funny how extreme of lengths they went to in order to get their children on the team. It was really upsetting because I know that if I had the time to dedicate my life to rowing, I would’ve enjoyed being on a D1 collegiate team. The fact that money allows an opportunity to be stolen from a deserving and qualified student athlete is upsetting.”
Interviewee 2- Meg Allen, D1 Northeastern Crew Team:
“I was confused, but it was almost amusing because of how false it was. A lot of people don’t know anything about rowing. They [Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli] were trying to prove their kids had previous rowing experience by claiming they were coxswains, but coxswains don’t row, they only steer the boat. It’s upsetting because some people are legitimate and work hard to be on a team for years, then they have to find out that unqualified people take their spot.”
Now, we see how much time and energy these student athletes put in.
If you could estimate, how much time did you put into crew before playing at the collegiate level? Are there any sacrifices you had to make?
“I put in at least 14 hours a week, and that was just so I could be on a D3 team. It’s not a low commitment sport, and you don’t have a lot of free time because of when and how long practices are. During my freshman year of college, people were always partying and having fun, but I always had to be awake at 6 am for practice on Saturday and could never partake.”
“I’ve been rowing for 6 years and have had a 20 hours per week commitment. It’s really difficult to be in other clubs and groups on campus because of how demanding the schedule is. I wasn’t able to go to my senior prom because of crew. I know a lot of people also struggle more with academics because it’s hard to balance both the crew and student status, so they lose track of things.”
But it’s not just crew that’s this demanding. We spoke to a D1 swimmer who also asked to remain anonymous (hmmmm, wonder why), and this was his response:
Interviewee 3: Anonymous D1 Swimmer:
“I swim around 20 hours per week, and have been since I was in high school. One of the biggest sacrifices a student athlete has to take on is not having much of a social life. They know that most of their time away from academics will be spent with their team, and that’s usually where they make friends. It’s rare to be able to go out and have much of a social life when you’re in this position.”
Because we love to play the blame game in today’s age, we also asked our interviewees who they thought was more to blame: the children, the parents, or the university officials.
“The blame would more so be on athletic directors and the parents rather than the children. They are adults and adults should teach kids moral standings. As for the athletic directors, even if they’re making exceptions for 1 or 2 students, they are cheapening the entire committee they work for, taking away valued spots from deserving students. It poses the question of: does anyone else on team truly deserve their spot?”
“The parents and the athletic staff that accepted and took the money [are to blame]. They are trying to build a prestigious program and it makes them look ridiculous. Parents are the ultimate blame because they shelled out the actual money and who knows if the girls knew.”
We also got in touch with a professor from our very own Syracuse University in order to hear their perspective.
Anonymous Professor [Syracuse University]:
“I don’t believe the kids ever learned the concept of morality since they saw the world could be built to favor them. I mean just because their family had some money, they got everything they could’ve ever wanted. The parents and university staff hold the blame for this one. I can tell you it would have been a crucifixion if it was any person of color who committed a fraud as pertinent as this. When a person of color does something, they resemble the entire race, but it’s not like that with white people.”
Race in America is an entirely different issue, but it’s an added element of this case that shouldn’t be overlooked. The harsh truth is that the criminal justice system has always and probably will always favor the wealthy whites. So let’s not be shocked if Loughlin, Hoffman, and every other white collar criminal involved in this scandal end up free from any justified punishment.
We must also recognize the broader impact this crime will have on those who had no awareness of these offenses. As phrased from our anonymous prof, “How many who had no idea of this will lose their jobs? Any assistant coaches who work under the higher ups are now tainted and should be posed as innocent victims that could now lose everything they’ve built.”
The bottom line is, as with all other current events, the unethical behavior committed by some of America’s most wealthy and powerful is already being overlooked and dismissed. Even if corruption like this has been going on for as long as universities have been around, with a scandal as transparent and revealing as this one, we must hold people accountable, no matter how impressive their bank account may be. The future is inevitable, so let US be the ones to fill it with righteousness, honorability, and dignity. Money isn’t and shouldn’t be the answer to success-- intellect and morality must take the reins instead.
Let’s also make it clear that these are not the faces of people who were just committed for conspiracy to commit money laundering, but rather the faces of people who recognize they’ll be walking free of retributions in no time. Because, for people like them, it’s just that easy. In the words of our anonymous prof, “Cheating has become so easy and teachers now have to surveille students to ensure they are being truthful. The classroom shouldn’t be a panopticon. I’ve seen unpreparedness at many levels and that is one of the scariest things to admit as a professor for Syracuse University.”
It’s imperative for us to acknowledge that this scandal isn’t just some random occurrence all the way across the country. It’s something right in front of us that we have the power to address and even change. It’s time to start speaking up and holding people accountable.
No more shortcuts, no more scandals.