Jalen Rose | Staff Writer
Once again, we have been shown the true nature of America’s privileged.
Last week, 50 people were charged for their involvement in a nationwide college admissions scandal. It was revealed that parents were paying large amounts of money to ensure their children were accepted into specific colleges. The 50 people prosecuted included college coaches, college prep administrators and wealthy parents (including two Hollywood actresses, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin).
Stories like this are constant reminders of the current state of our country. This is a country where the wealthy and privileged can cheat the system for their benefit—a country where these same people will willingly put themselves ahead despite disproportionately disadvantaging the less fortunate.
More-deserving students were denied acceptance into these schools to make room for students who did practically nothing to earn their spot.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to focus my criticism on the students, especially since many of these students were unaware of how their admissions decisions came to be. My frustration is directed towards the parents and their egregious actions.
These parents are guilty of setting a poor example for not only for their own children, but for the millions in children misinformed on the reality of our nation. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to teach your child the values of integrity and equity. These parents did the exact opposite.
They showed their children that if you have money, you can get your way. This is a clear indication of moral corruption—a trait we tend to see in a lot from America’s wealthiest class.
What’s most upsetting about this situation is that none of it is surprising.
Making donations to a fake charity is not the only form of privilege found in college admissions. For decades, many colleges and universities have given preference to legacy students. If a student has at least one parent who graduated from the school, they are automatically more likely to be accepted.
This system is inherently designed to benefit affluent white students. White people have been the majority in college demographics for generations, therefore allowing them to benefit more from the implication of legacy admissions and leaving minorities at a disadvantage. This policy also directly affects first-generation students and their chances of admission.
Last year, The News & Observer reported that both Duke University and NC State University currently consider legacy status as a factor for admission. Implementing legacy status in admissions decisions can only increase the wealth inequality present in higher education institutions.
Despite these very real forms of privilege, minorities are the ones accused of benefiting the most from admissions, especially black students. Through affirmative action, colleges can implement race into their admissions decisions in order to establish a more diverse campus community and offset the racial discrimination many schools held against minority students in the past.
Yet, some people would rather simplify this policy as “racist.” They claim the program racially discriminates against “other students” (a blanket-term for white students) and denies these “more-deserving students” (or rather, privileged) spots into the university.
Parents are paying their children’s way through admissions and literally taking the spots of actual deserving students, yet people of color are the ones accused of cheating the system.
It’s easy for the typical American to think that they don’t benefit from privilege in this country. It’s easy to hear about this scandal and establish a distance from the reality of it. It’s easy to claim ignorance and opt-out of advocating for substantial change. What’s difficult is recognizing how close in proximity this reality actually is and understanding the moral duty we have in order to fix it.