Discussion: (0 comments)
There are no comments available.
More options: Share,
View related content: Education
When news broke of Operation Varsity Blues, an FBI investigation into bribery and cheating in college admissions, many universities went into damage control mode: Indictments against 50 wealthy or celebrity parents (with perhaps 700 more to come) who paid large sums of money to fix test results, or falsify records in order to win their children’s admission struck at the heart of the college entrance process which universities claim is fair despite its opacity.
Yale University, the only Ivy League school so far involved in the scandal, immediately went into damage control mode. University President Peter Salovey issued a statement declaring:
“As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by a former coach who no longer works at the university. We do not believe that any member of the Yale administration or staff other than the charged coach knew about the conspiracy. The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”
The statement is tone-deaf and sidesteps the question of incompetence within the Yale admissions office. True, a Yale women’s soccer coach allegedly accepted a six-figure bribe in order to list one applicant as a sports recruit. But, the Yale admissions office employs a number of officers who divide the country geographically. Each is responsible for knowing the schools and, as much as possible, the applicants within their geographic zones. Each is responsible for talking to guidance counselors, knowing the rising stars, and seeking out the best and the brightest.
That’s only the beginning of the process, however. When applications come in, they are subject to what Yale says is a rigorous review process. Willamette University Law Professor David Friedman pointed out on Twitter that just last month, Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of Yale undergraduate admissions, said, “By the time a student gets admitted to Yale, their application has been read twice and then seen by a five-person committee.” That means that between five and seven admissions officers at one of the nation’s leading colleges could not detect fraud.
Salovey may say Yale is a victim, but a true leader would ask what in Yale’s process allowed such fraud to succeed or whether the process was even working.
Alas, Salovey’s embrace of victimhood replicates a university culture which eschews accountability within the bureaucracy. None of the families charged in the illegal payments scheme lived in isolated or poorly-known regions of the country. Most hailed from major cities or wealthy suburbs on the east or west coasts and attended the high schools most often visited or watched by admissions officers. To accept a fake athletic profile suggests multiple layers of the admissions bureaucracy did not perform simple due diligence: Perhaps they did not talk to schools or guidance counselors despite their large travel budget to do so. They may not have conducted simple Google or LEXIS searches for athletic scores or local news reports or conducted any other independent action to verify the truth of the application.
If Salovey truly cared about protecting Yale’s hemorrhaging reputation, he should first explain whether Quinlan failed, whether other admissions officers failed, or whether it was the process itself which was broken. Simply put, a simple bribe should not be able to defeat a sophisticated admissions process if it is working.
That Salovey sidesteps such questions is troubling. That said, revelations from an ongoing lawsuit that Yale admissions gave special treatment to children of those expected to give large donations to the university raise questions whether Salovey’s true concern was that a soccer coach rather than the university itself received the bribe.
If Yale is going to restore its reputation and learn from the ongoing admissions scandals, it is essential that the university embrace a culture of accountability within its own administration and begin to investigate and hold to account those who so clearly failed in their due diligence.
There are no comments available.
1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
© 2019 American Enterprise Institute