Many Americans want nothing more than for their children to succeed in grade-school so they can attend a prestigious university. In our society, it is almost a universally held belief that if you excel in high school, you can use your merits to attend a top university and go on to have a great life and career because of this.
This core societal belief was recently shattered into a million pieces with the emergence of several celebrities bribing college officials to get their kids admissions into the nation’s top schools.
Perhaps the most infamous of these cases was with “Fuller House” actress Lori Loughlin. Her college admissions case is the perfect storm of celebrity, wealth, influence and power used to an unfair advantage. The thing that may make this case even more of a firestorm than it already is, is the fact that Loughlin was never known to play the villain in any of her roles.
Loughlin is not accused of just slight bribery either. She did not slip somebody a $20 and pat them on the wrist, asking for a favor. Instead, according to CNN, she has a $1 million bond set because she and her husband are accused of paying bribes totaling $500,000 to have their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California.
Reflecting society’s shock over this, twitter user Chrissy B tweeted, “Lori Loughlin and SCAM do not belong in the same sentence??? Aunt Becky would never.” Even though Loughlin had a wholesome presence on television, her real-life actions suggest otherwise.
Adding insult to injury, many of these cases, including Loughlin’s, also had their children pretending to be student athletes in order to guarantee admission. According to the NCAA, in all three divisions, over 50% of student athletes receive scholarships. Many students count on their athletic ability as a way to pay for higher education and guarantee admission. Meanwhile, Loughlin’s daughters, according to CNN, were admitted as members of the rowing team. Neither of them row, but their parents took their picture on a rowing machine and that was good enough for the bribe.
Additional outrage stems from the fact that, according to their online presence, Loughlin’s daughters could not care less about their education. According to People.com, her daughter, Oliva’s former classmate opened up after the scandal broke saying she was never in class, ran a YouTube channel while her classmates drowned in homework and made a video in which she said she only wanted to go to college for the parties.
It is my belief what makes Loughlin’s case stand out from all the other celebrity cheating scandals in the unique multitude of factors at play. It’s almost as if this is the equivalent of the OJ Simpson trial but not for murder, for fraud. OJ’s trial caught so much attention because it sat at the intersection of race, celebrity, privilege, wealth and power. This case sits at all of those points except race.
The fury and backlash over this case is fully understandable, and even in fact, I sympathize and am also outraged at this. Millions of teenagers spend almost their whole time in high school sweating over if they will be able to get into a top college, and then when they get in they wonder how can they ever afford it? Meanwhile, two girls in California who have probably spent their entire lives not wanting, including the absence of a desire for education, coasted into one of the nation’s top schools on a golden toll road of wealth and privilege. And, the half a million dollar toll on this golden road was paid by none other than sweet and innocent Aunt Becky.