Ironically, it took an irrelevant Hollywood B-actress to indirectly fire off the shot heard around the world. On a surreal midweek day, federal authorities arrested Lori Loughlin, fellow actress Felicity Huffman, and 48 others. The charge? An education bribery scandal that has caused a ripple effect throughout the country.
Known for her role in the original “Full House,” Loughlin had flown into Los Angeles Tuesday night. By the next day, she was in handcuffs. Undoubtedly, it was quite a change of scenery for the actress. She originally intended to stay in L.A. to film a Hallmark movie, a typical career move for Hollywood B-listers.
But her on-screen reputation will be the last of her worries. Federal law-enforcement agents have charged Loughlin with “conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in the nationwide scam to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.”
Also taking the fall was Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. Authorities have also charged him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Arrested on Tuesday, Giannulli appeared in a federal court in L.A. a few hours later.
But what was particularly alarming about this education bribery was its scope. From “celebrities” to entrepreneurs to business executives, they allegedly used their influence to unfairly advantage their children for college admissions.
Of course, this scandal shocked everyone…well, except for me.
Education Bribery is Nothing New
Now, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here. I’m sure many of you have expressed the same cynicism. However, the fact that the general public considers this particularly newsworthy – oh no! Rich people lie and cheat their way to the top! Shocker! – suggests some of us live a swell life.
The painful reality is that education bribery is nothing new. During my high-school years competing for top-tier university admissions, we students realized three factors can help or hurt us: our grades, our race, and our legacy.
For the most part, the former two categories explain themselves. But what about legacy? This is just a cute word to determine whether one of our parents also studied at the target school. If they did, great. If they contributed financially to the university, all the better.
Of these three categories, I only decisively hit one of them with gusto. The others? Asian-American students live with the stigma of unreasonable expectations, and as an immigrant, I had no connections.
But that’s just reality. The privileged have access to the best in everything: career opportunities, health care, and logically, education. If they can’t attain these things through merit, they simply open their pocketbook.
As someone who did the college journey the right way, I’m glad that this education bribery scam has finally entered the limelight. But I’m also a bit saddened by the collective naivete. This crap has been going on since man invented money.