Why The “Varsity Blues” Sentencings Send the Wrong Message

Originally posted on Love, Geeky Girl

By: Dani Kessel

We were all outraged, disheartened, and bewildered when news broke of the 2019 college admittance scandal. William ‘Rick’ Singer, CEO of the college and life counseling company Key, facilitated major test and admissions fraud by paying schools, coaches, and proctors to change records for parents who wished their kids to be admitted into specific schools. Some parents worked with Singer to recruit students as athletes for sports they’d never played since that fast-tracked the students’ acceptance into high profile universities. Other parents paid for students’ SATs and ACTs to be taken by someone else. The FBI and IRS worked together on “Operation Varsity Blues” to uncover just under a decade of bribery, fraud, money laundering, racketeering, test score doctoring, conspiracy, and many other related crimes.

From the 52 people involved in this scandal, 29 pleaded guilty to all charges. Of those 29, 15 have been sentenced. This spring and summer rolls out the trials and sentencing hearings of  the other individuals. Based on the already finished cases, I am even more upset about what’s to come.

It’s common practice for a sentence to be lightened when an individual pleads guilty and cooperates with related investigations. However, these people who committed major fraud are being let off with very little prison time, instead being given community service and fines. Defendants are being given way less than the recommended sentences. They get to pay away the situation. All of this started with people thinking that they were above the rules since they have money. Now, that belief and attitude is essentially being reinforced. The consequences are a slap on the wrist. There are prisoners serving years on non-violent drug use charges, but a person who conspires against/frauds the government and universities and other students without serving more than a few months? These people have done much more damage than others. Still, out of the 15 people tried and sentenced, only one-third have gotten more than a two month sentence. They are getting off because they are rich.

If a person was willing to pay fifty-thousand to five-hundred-thousand dollars to get around the rules, how is paying a few ten-thousand dollars a real repercussion that sways away from this happening again?

It’s angering and upsetting to see how this scandal is being handled. The students that lost their spot in a prestigious university due to this fraud are essentially being told that their suffering meant nothing. Restitutions aren’t being made to the universities that fell victim. The IRS and government suffered at the hands of these people. Some (luckily not all) students aren’t being removed from the college admittance they didn’t truly earn. There are also the students who had no clue and found out that their parents had so little faith in them that they broke many laws. 

And, how is this going to affect the ongoing trials?

Let’s start a discussion in the comments section. Please tell me what you think. Are you angry about the situation? Or do you think the consequences are sufficient? If you disagree with my assessment, I’d like to know why.

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