Hey! Remember the College Admissions Scandal? Hopefully, that news only broke out in 2019 and it was a big deal.
A lot of rich people had paid people to help their kids get into more elite universities. This news never came across as shocking, because people have already figured this out. But some people got really upset. Really, really angry. Especially at the actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who helped get their own kids into college through it. Because they were celebrities (And women??) they probably drew the most scorn. But there were other famous people on the list. Coaches, CEOs, business executives.
Operation Varsity Blues was an attempt by the FBI and the Department of Justice to punish the rich and specifically, maybe, this guy named Rick Singer, the ringleader behind all of this.
Fun fact, I proctored an SAT test today. 03-24-21. Same day as review.
So who is Rick Singer? A former basketball coach at the collegiate level, who eventually got canned, he turned his attention towards college admissions. He was just going to help parents give their kids an edge. You know, help them pick better classes, extra curricular activities, maybe a few more points on a test, or those sweet sweet recommendations.
And overtime this apparently shifted, where sure, he would have contacts in colleges who would agree (due to personal donations or donations to their clubs/sports) to say they totally scouted a potential walk on athlete and encourage admissions to accept them should they apply. And then the student, who wouldn’t know about this and likely has never done that spot, will never walk on try out for the sport, oh well.
That is bad yeah. A bit worse is when he started getting parents to have their kids “Tested” for learning difficulties, to get extra time on their tests. This eventually led to proctors who would take the test for them without the students knowing. I’ll save those details for the doc.
And so this guy sucks right? Where is all his national scorn? We should know his name. But the DoJ used Singer early on, he was now a cooperating witness. He was used to get more past clients to admit to wrong doing, and that, at this point, is where all the focus has lied. And that is pretty fucked up.
I honestly never cared this scandal, at all. I thought it was weird the disgust those two actresses in particular. I wondered when are the actual colleges going to be punished or changes made to make sure “side doors” don’t exist. (Hint, nothing really happens to them). The documentary makes this same point (which I totally thought before I heard I swear!) but this is like using the drug dealer to punish the drug users. And not the drug dealer or the drug dealer’s supplier. It is going after low hanging fruit, that frankly, feels like a mostly victimless crime.
I am not defending the rich. Go ahead and tax and eat them or whatever. But a privileged kid getting a spot at a college doesn’t have to actually take it away from someone else, because the colleges themselves choose to limit things. I’d say it is more likely they just let these extra people in through this methodology (that likely is still happening at many places) than filling in some specific number of spots available.
And so what about Singer? Well, cases are still going on, so nothing yet, but he likely won’t have a punishment either, just like the colleges, and that is what we are left with.
The documentary does mention these things, but in small amounts and I don’t think attacks it enough. A lot of the documentary is actually just recreations of phone conversations between Singers and clients, with actors playing them to let us see it somewhat naturally I guess. It was an okay method, and clearly the main goal of the documentary. But I don’t need to see actors acting out phone conversations, I’d rather go more into the history of this sort of thing, the trials around it, what is going to happen and what could happen to fix this sort of thing in the future.
Some of the actors in this documentary were played by Matthew Modine, Jillian Peterson, David Lloyd Smith, and Roger Rignack.
2 out of 4.