By Jess Ward
If you’ve been following the news, you’ve probably heard about celebrities paying their child’s way into college-specifically, celebrities who bribe school admission boards and sports teams with hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to guarantee their kid a spot at the college of their choice. I first saw it on Twitter; then I saw people posting all about in on Facebook. It didn’t take me long to realize I have an unpopular opinion regarding the whole scandal: I felt like the only person completely unbothered.
Don’t get me wrong- what these celebrities did is wrong, I’m not disputing that. They should be prosecuted and face the consequences. What I’m really saying here is that I was not surprised in the slightest. In fact, I almost felt that déjà vu feeling while reading the headlines.
I’m very left-leaning politically, and have said time and again that money in excess almost always leads to corruption in one way or another. I also have always been critical of both corporate America and the higher education system – especially since both have merged within the past few decades. Higher education is a business model now – tuition goes up as wages stay the same to ensure that the opportunity is only available to those who can afford it. To me, it only makes sense that those corrupt individuals would try and make shady deals with a business model made to benefit a specific demographic.
My only question is, why did these individuals decide to make these deals illegally? Higher education is expensive, as any average American will tell you, and schools generally won’t turn down the chance to make a few extra bucks. A fat donation signed by a notable name in Hollywood would guarantee their child a spot on the admission’s list, no questions asked. This method isn’t morally or ethically right, but at the very least these celebrities could have spared themselves public humiliation and potential jail time.
This scandal is a symptom of systemic classism and privilege; those with money continue to get ahead and have access to certain things just because they have money. We can turn this around with prosecution and punishment.. If money helps them get out of this one, we need a complete overhaul of the system we set in place.
At this point, my senior seminar project is complete, my graduation seats are reserved, and I had my final advising meeting where we discussed plans for the future rather than classes for next semester. Soon, I will have a piece of paper to show for all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the last four years. I am a hard worker, and it shows. I like to think most college students are the same in that regard- we’re all here to learn and push ourselves so we can make a respectable life for ourselves, but I’ve seen recently that that might just be wishful thinking.
When I march with my class at commencement in a few weeks, I’ll leave here with a massive debt I can’t currently wrap my head around, even though I’ve looked at the numbers time and again. At the same time though, I’m leaving knowing I did the right thing throughout my college career. I was here to learn, to meet new people, to gain new perspectives, and work towards making myself the best person I can possibly be. I think I did that, and I can say I did that myself. Not with the money and bribery of someone else.