There are two absolute truths when it comes to college: it is expensive and it can be competitive. The expensive aspect of it can be really scary. Most students have to save up money, putting off their education, or accept that they will be swamped in student loans when they graduate.
This is what makes the recent college cheating scandal extremely upsetting and disturbing.
This past week celebrities, CEO’s, fashion moguls and college coaches have come under fire after investigators unraveled a scheme, code named Operation Varsity Blues, where wealthy parents contributed to the bribing of coaches, ACT and SAT test administrators and others to get their children into high profiled universities such as Yale, Harvard and USC.
One celebrity who has been publicly named is “Full House” alumna known for her role as sweet Aunt Becky, Lori Loughlin. Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, known for his Target fashion line, allegedly paid $500,000 to raise the chances of their daughters getting into the University of Southern California.
Loughlin’s wholesome image has undoubtedly been shattered and rightfully fired from Netflix’s “Fuller House” and dropped from the Hallmark Channel. Loughlin’s actions merit strong repercussions and I am glad she is receiving them. Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, who is a YouTube influencer with over 1 million subscribers, is also facing backlash. Her makeup pallet with Sephora has been pulled from the shelves and Tressumme has also dropped her.
It is ridiculous to think that access to quality education is equal for everyone, which is what makes this case infuriating. Loughlin’s $500,000 bribery money could have easily paid for her daughters’ education, had she been able to get accepted into college on her own merit. Adding to the insult, Jade has said multiple times in her social media posts that attending college was just to please her parents.
NEIU is not a school of wealthy, privileged students. Most students, including myself, are working full time jobs to be able to afford our education. We are struggling to pay for as much tuition out of pocket as possible to not drown in debt after graduation. We are fighting for scholarships.
This is not an issue that is secluded to NEIU, as college students across the nation are struggling with these issues. According to an article by NPR, The Hope Center conducted a study across 66 higher education institutions and found that 36 percent of students say that they experienced housing insecurity and nine percent reported being homeless. What people don’t want to believe is that the rich will always have an advantage and this college scandal proves it. Access to education is not equal.
This struggle starts before college for a lot of people. In 2011, an Ohio mom was arrested for falsifying her address to get her daughter into a better school district. The district found out and when she refused to pay back the tuition she was sentenced to 10 days in county jail and three years’ probation.
Commuting to Chicago to attend NEIU made me realize that the discrepancy in education reaches more people than I thought. I had the opportunity of attending a well-funded northwest suburb high school that offered multiple college level courses, had three gyms and was fully staffed. At my job, I work with a lot of high school students who attend a Chicago Public School. During conversation, for comparison, I pulled up a picture of my old high school and one employee said “That is not a high school. That is a college campus.” His words stuck with me and I realized I had a privilege that many won’t get. He marveled at the football fields, tennis courts and gyms saying that he has to come to NEIU to use our field because his high school doesn’t have one.
There is no sympathy on my part for Loughlin and others who believed their money was enough to make up for their children’s lack of ability to get into their desired college, including Northwestern Illinois University in Chicago. Expulsion should be the only answer for the students whose parents are involved in the scandal. I have heard many times in arguments on other social topics, primarily immigration when families face deportation, that a parent’s actions have consequences. The same applies to this situation. The outcome of this case and the punishment applied will determine and say a lot about our society. I am hoping that it says that the rich will finally be held responsible for their actions, just like the poor are.