A Critical Look at the 2019 College Admissions Scandal?

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title






First page number:


Last page number:



© 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. All rights reserved. As the college admissions scandal (Operation Varsity Blues) story evolved over the past year, the reporting covering it has reached a level of absurdity that is breathtaking. My breaking point came a few days ago, so I decided to try to contextualize the narrative. Here is a humble reality check for those who were misled into believing that this story is newsworthy. Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am making no legal excuses for the participants in the current scandal. I am only offering contextual background that places it in the broader academic, cultural, and political perspective required for understanding. It is only the most recent installment of a well-worn narrative: the controlling elite make their own rules and live by them, if they can get away with it. Unfortunately, some of the participants, who are either serving or facing jail time, didn't know to not go into a gunfight with a sharp stick. Money alone is not enough to avoid prosecution for fraud: you need political clout. The best protection a defendant can have is a prosecutor who fears political reprisal. Compare how the Koch brothers escaped prosecution for stealing millions of oil dollars from Native American tribes1,2 with the fate of actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who, at the time of this writing, face jail time for paying bribes to get their children into good universities.3,4 In the former case, the federal prosecutor who dared to empanel a grand jury to get at the truth was fired for cause, which put a quick end to the prosecution. In the latter case, the prosecutors pushed for jail terms and public admonishment with the zeal of Oliver Cromwell. There you have it: stealing oil from Native Americans versus trying to bribe your kids into a great university. Where is the greater crime? Admittedly, these actresses and their cohorts are likely to serve their time at Camp Cupcake, but to me even that seems like an injustice since they engaged in behavior that (with one exception) has been widely practiced for generations, by those whose mantra is before honesty, the right fork..


Higher Education



UNLV article access

Find in your library