Operation Varsity Blues
-By Kimberly Wylie
On March 12, 2019, one of the largest scandals in American universities came to a head. Fifty people were indicted in a college admissions scheme on a scale never before known. Wealthy executives, famous actresses, top university coaches, and more all stand accused. The public is in an uproar over this scandal. Some call it a result of a broken college admissions system. Really though it’s a broken society, with an exploration of hypocrisy, a study of the monsters we’ve created with the social elite and a lesson in bad parenting.
Operation Varsity Blues
In an operation the FBI has code named – Operation Varsity Blues – millions of dollars have been paid since 2011, to William Rick Singer and his non-profit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation, all to get kids into college. It was a masterful plan, created by a college admission counselor. When Singer toured the country, talking at invite-only events, private schools and corporations, he told people he knew how to get their kids into top-ranked colleges. He wasn’t wrong! He not only could help the deserving kids get into elite schools, but also those who were less-deserving… for a price.
His schemes came in a variety of plans. Some parents paid to get their children on the preferred applicants list from college sports coaches. Bribing coaches to tell the school’s admissions that a child was a highly-sought after athlete they wanted to recruit, including creating fake athletic profiles for these kids. Full House star, Lori Loughlin, had both of her daughters admitted to USC as members of the school’s rowing team, even though neither girl had ever participated in the sport before.
Others paid to have their child falsely labeled as learning impaired, so they could have extra time on the test. For as little as $5,000, Singer would have a psychologist falsify a disability report for the student. This would give the kids an unfair advantage.
Some parents paid to have their children’s test scores altered. Parents were instructed to lie about travel plans, so they could change the testing location for the SAT or ACT to one of Singer’s controlled testing facilities in Houston or West Hollywood.
There were parents who also paid to have someone else actually take their children’s placement tests. One of the test takers was Mark Riddell, a Harvard alum and also a college admission exam prep director at IMG Academy. Riddell has pled guilty and is cooperating with the investigation. All of this money was funneled into Singer’s fake non-profit, Key Worldwide Foundation, which also let the parents take a tax deduction on their “donation.”
All of these kids got into some of America’s top-rated universities. Big name universities like Yale and USC and Georgetown and Stanford. These are the universities parents dream of having their kids go to someday.
The end result is an outraged nation.
And, we should be outraged.
Outrage as a Form of Hypocrisy
For every kid who was admitted to these elite schools under false pretenses, it meant a deserving kid was turned away. Kids who actually worked hard, studied, played sports, and excelled. These kids didn’t get in, because these other kids’ parents had more money and fewer scruples.
I think the most hypocritical thing here is the outrage Democrats around the country have thought.
Give me a moment here to play Devil’s advocate.
Lori Laughlin, Felicity Huffman, Douglas Hodge, and all of the other parents who were involved in this college admissions scandal just wanted their kids to get into a good school, because they want their children to have the best lives possible. They were willing to do whatever was necessary – including breaking the law – to give their kids a better life.
And, Democrats are outraged with this.
But, let’s change just one small aspect of this story. Instead of parents bribing people to get their kids into school to have a better life (which Democrats are against), let’s make it illegal aliens sneaking over the border to get their kids into America to have a better life (which Democrats are for).
Does anyone else see this contradiction?
Why is it OK for some parents to break the law, for their kids to have a better life, but it’s not OK for other parents to break the law?
The parallels to these situations are clear. These college admission scandal parents didn’t want to put the hard work in, to ensure their kids got into a good school. They didn’t make sure their kids, early on in their academic career, did their homework or studied or got the extra help they needed. They didn’t spend hours and hours every week transporting their kids back and forth to sports practice and games, giving up weekends to spend them at tournaments and sports clinics. These parents wanted to take the easy way out. They wanted to take a short cut. They wanted to break the law and take opportunities away from others who did put in the work and the time.
It’s the same with illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants don’t want to put the hard work in, to ensure their kids get to grow up in America. They don’t want to spend the time and effort it takes to go through the process to come into the country legally. They want to take a short cut. They want to break the law and take opportunities away from other legal immigrants who did put in the work and the time.
Yet, for some reason, Democrats see these situations differently.
I don’t get it.
So, I say be outraged. But, be outraged fairly. If you’re going to be outraged at people breaking one law, be outraged at people breaking another law. We don’t get to pick and choose what rules are followed.
Do Rules Not Apply to the Social Elite?
I have two children in college right now. In fact, my daughter didn’t get into her first choice school. Had her test scores been higher, I’m sure she would have. But, at no point in time did I ever consider bribing anyone to get her into the University of Tampa. It just wasn’t on my radar as even a possibility.
What makes the social elite different? Why do the wealthy and the famous think they’re above the law? Is it because we’ve put them on a pedestal? Have we created these monsters?
These social elite are narcissists. They are surrounded by “yes men” telling them how fabulous they are and keeping the critics at bay. Even if they started off as normal, psychologically-stable people, years of adulation of fans and/or the power that comes with being ultra-wealthy and living a privileged life, will exacerbate any innate narcissistic tendencies. They believe they are better than others, and for this reason, believe they’re above the rules and laws that govern us lesser beings.
We, as a society, idolize the rich and famous. We want to be them so much, we get lip injections and butt implants to mimic them. And, we forgive them for sins normal, everyday people would never get away with, from football players who commit animal cruelty and hit women, to actors who drive drunk. OJ Simpson commits murder and doesn’t go to jail, until he finally gets nabbed for kidnapping someone over some memorabilia, even after he writes a book about how he would have murdered his ex-wife and her boyfriend if he had done it. We act shocked, but then forgive them and support the teams that let them play and watch the movies and TV shows they’re in.
Why wouldn’t they think they’re above the law?
Then there’s the less famous, but simply wealthy. Again, why wouldn’t they think they’re above the law. Having money makes life much easier, because so many people are on the take. Greasing palms gets things done quickly – and can also make problems go away. We see wealthy people behaving badly and put them on reality shows and make them pseudo-celebrities.
Even now that this scandal has broken, what repercussions will be truly felt. Hallmark has dropped Loughlin. However, on the day the scandal broke, given that Loughlin’s youngest daughter, Olivia Jade, was on the chairman of USC’s Board of Trustee’s, Rick Caruoso, yacht in the Bahamas, with his daughter, it seems likely that she’ll be able to maintain her ill-gotten position at the school.
Again, why wouldn’t they think they’re above the law?
We, as a society, have to start demanding more from our celebrities, from our sports figures and from our wealthy. We have to expect the same moral standards we would expect from our own children. We have to stop excusing the bad behavior. We have to stop allowing money to make problems go away.
The Scandal as a Lesson in Parenting
This college admissions scandal really gives society an important lesson in parenting. We have evolved from a society of latch key kids – kids that came home after school to an empty house, until their parents came home from work – to a society of screen kids – kids that are raised by television, computer and phone screens. Parents are not raising their kids.
It’s that simple.
They want to take the easy way out. Parents leave their kids in the care of babysitters. Then, as soon as they’re old enough, they turn their kids over to the school system to raise. Parenting is easy that way.
So, why does it surprise us when those with the means to bribe the way of their kids into college – people who have had their bad behavior excused in the past and/or have been able to use money to solve their other problems – take the easy way out?
Good parenting is hard. It’s work. Great parents earn their stripes through blood, sweat and tears. Buying your child’s way into college doesn’t say, “I don’t think you can do it on your own.” It says, “You weren’t worth my time, to help you properly prepare for college when you were younger.”
And, what lesson were these parents trying to teach their children? You don’t need to work hard and prepare and study and apply yourself. All you need is money, and you’ll get what you want.
In the End
In the end, this college admissions scandal is more a commentary on American culture than anything else. It’s a tale of hypocrisy and a clear sign of what we admire in society. Most importantly, it’s a dire warning about how we’re raising our kids.
Rules are rules. Why is that so difficult to understand? No one is above the law. Or, at least, no one should be above the law. This holds true for parents bribing their kids into college for a better life, as well as parents sneaking their kids into America for a better life. If you’re outraged by one, you should be outraged by the other. It’s that plain and simple.
We, as a society, also need to reevaluate what we admire. It’s good to admire someone with talent. It’s good to admire someone who has worked hard and made something of themselves. It is not good to admire someone simply because they have money or are famous. And, it’s definitely bad to not hold them to the same moral standards of everyone else in society.
Lastly, we need to start taking responsibility for the raising of our kids again in this country. We cannot allow others to raise them – or worse, allow technology to raise them. We need to be hyper-involved. We need to know who they’re hanging out with, what they’re doing in their free time. We need to demand that they’re doing their homework and studying and preparing for their future, instead of playing video games and Snap chatting their friends and watching endless hours of YouTube videos. If we truly want them to be successful, we need to teach them that hard work is the way to reach that goal. Shortcuts may work for a short period of time, but may lead them to a dead end they can’t return from.