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College admissions scandal fallout: Stanford students sue UCLA, USC and Yale (latimes.com)
41 points by ilamont 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments

I'm a little confused with this one. It would be one thing if these students didn't make it into an ivy league college because of this....but they did. A class action is good, but seems like it would be more powerful if it was students who did not make it into and Ivy.

Seems to me it’s a fishing expedition...once you are involved in litigation you can serve discovery on these schools.

During discovery the litigants will get their hands on all sorts of records and communications that no doubt will show what the institutions knew and when they knew it. That will likely result in emails involving deans and other highly regarded and connected individuals. Normally these kinds of people in power will lie about the existence of emails/communications/records (even in litigation) but here they would be hesitant to lie/deystroy evidence because They know there is an FBI investigation/criminal component, so they won’t take that gamble.

At that point to avoid the embarrassment the powers that be will settle so they don’t have to turn over these records and emails or sit for depositions. No doubt like in the corporate world some deans/assistant deans will get a golden parachute to take the blame and the institutions will release a PR statement that they are happy to have resolved this matter noting no finding of wrongdoing or liability in the settlement, but used the opportunity to improve the institutions processes so nothing like this occurs in the future.

No way that data isn't already destroyed...

The article explains the rationale. If I was one of the students who played by the rules, and found out that somebody sitting next to me in class got a pass, I'd be upset. And, now, who's to say that somebody won't question every Stanford grad whether they really qualified? It tarnishes the brand that these students bought in to.

Of course, this is the exact same issue created by affirmative action/diversity/inclusivity campaigns.

No, it's not. I worked with a diversity program associated graduate programs at an "elite" university, so I have some insight into the application process, which differs from undergraduate admissions.

The first golden rule in these programs is never go after nor accept any student that is not qualified for the program. This does not benefit anyone. It doesn't benefit the student because they will ultimately fail. It doesn't benefit the department because they lose a slot for the student and the time investment. It doesn't benefit the school because it harms its reputation. Within the program that I worked, the idea that we had lax or easier admissions criteria for underrepresented students is categorically false and I mean this is the strongest possible sense.

Alright, so what did the program provide? A variety of things, but largely a support system for students who did not have peers from the same cultural background, which is important when you move away from your support system. It also provided resources for us to recruit at conferences, schools, and events that were overlooked by the departments themselves. Finally, it provided money to the departments assist in the cost of the tuition waivers for the students.

And, look, these programs are not perfect. However, let me be extremely clear, any notion that these students were not qualified and somehow tarnished the brand of the university are false. They were and are good and have been an asset to the university as well as their employers after graduation.

"The first golden rule in these programs is never go after nor accept any student that is not qualified for the program."

At this point, you should define "qualified". When affirmative action programs start accepting scores that are much lower than for other races, it begins to really call into question your argument.

I think kxyvr's argument is that they didn't do that. (That is kxyvr's grad program didn't, not that no program anywhere didn't.)

>When affirmative action programs start accepting scores that are much lower than for other races, it begins to really call into question your argument.

Might want to call into question your own argument since college admissions aren't based on a simple ranking of the highest scores. Wonder why diveristy programs get questioned but not legacy or athletic admissions.

Data has told another story. Mean test scores broken down by race at some schools have been known to show higher means for white and asian. Iirc thw source but i thought this was common knowledge.

Relevance? I just said test scores aren't the only measure. By your own argument Harvard should be majority (entirely?) asian students yet some how it's majority white. There are other considerations, as there should be. A fair approach is a subjective evaluation with a goal of keeping the student body relatively diverse as the country;s demographics.

They’re employing classic straw man argument

Even if I were to accept all of your assertions, the fact that such programs exist at all while admissions themselves are largely subjective is problematic. The issue isn’t that it tarnishes the university—the victims are the very students you intend to help. It casts doubt about themselves in their own mind, while also creating public scepticism.

This is a well known problem, written and talked about extensively by black intellectuals who came up before such programs were in place and had to mentor the generation that came up after.

How was success of the program being measured? And was next year's budget tied to any "diverse" graduates quotas being met?

The problem exists, if there's a monetary incentive or even bonus for quantity (and diversity implies to quantify) over quality.

Edit: Removed a line that could have been interpreted as unnecessary accusatory.

??? Stanford is definitely not an Ivy League school.

I assume parent was using "Ivy League" as a synonym for elite school with highly selective admissions. You're of course correct.

Stanford is ranked #7, following a tie between Columbia, MIT, U of Chicago, and Yale at #3.


That's not what Ivy League means though, right?


Yep, which actually makes it better than most of the Ivy League :)

Except they didn’t make it into an Ivy League college...

Something else that's not mentioned here which I've seen in other coverage is the issue of financial aid. Students who did not require financial aid were given preference over more qualified students, simply because they could afford the full ride in cash. Had I known this when applying for college, I would've checked no on the financial aid intention.

Someone at Stanford suing because they couldn’t get into Yale honestly sounds post-satire.

Stanford is pretty universally considered better...and if it isn’t it’s the same. This sort of lawsuit sounds insulting to people like me who had no chance at any of the above.

Stanford is also included in the lawsuit. And it is not about getting admission, it's about the application fee they paid without getting a fair process. Read the article.

I mean in light of the scandal the fee seems mostly symbolic.

I’ve never applied to a school without an application fee. I wasted $240 on schools I didn’t go to and $160 on schools I didn’t get into.

I know lots of folks that got fee waivers too. It comes with the territory.

Maybe not universally: https://www.quora.com/Why-would-a-high-school-senior-choose-...

It's the student that chose Stanford as a fallback from USC that has me scratching my head. Different strokes I guess. :-)

Reading these sorts of posts Quora is already a fascinating window into the elites. Truly amazing how different their bubbles are.

Have they ever been to New Haven? Yeah, the whole affair is beyond yuck but even if you're mostly OK with all the other ways that college admissions isn't some perfect meritocratic process, this suit is beyond silly.

Who says they are mostly okay with the other problems? OTOH, the other problems mostly don't violate the law, so there is no legal remedy.

I am mostly OK with a lot of things factoring into college admissions including legacies etc.

Unless you are one of the two names plaintiffs in the lawsuit, I'm not sure how that's relevant here.

“They” referred to people generally, not the students filing the lawsuit.

The implication of hypocrisy only works for people on record supporting the suit, if it works at all.

Which, IMO, it doesn't anyway, since the other things you mention are generally overt parts of the admission process, and thus factually distinguishable from the undisclosed distortion at issue in the suit, in ways which can reasonably viewed as relevant to both the deceptive trade practices law on which the claims against the universities in the suit are based and the reasonable ethical principle that it is unethical to p accept payment resulting from false representations one has made regarding a service one is selling, and that such ill-gotten gains should be disgorged when discovered even if the false representation was not intentionally false.

Exactly. Sounds like someone trying to go for a big payout.

I like that these students are making a statement and trying to put pressure on universities to have greater integrity and accountability for making admissions truly merit based.

This hardly seems right – UCLA, USC and Yale are victims of the bad actors involved just as much as the students are. I haven't seen any indication that the colleges involved were aware this was happening in a way they overlooked.

You can file a lawsuit for anything in the United States. I would love to hear how this lawsuit isn't frivolous or (at worst) searching for a payday.

Maybe the universities should have some system in place to catch this behavior.

You can't be in the industry for that many years and be surprised by it's dark side. The colleges knew about it and looked the other way. There's no two ways about it.

Do you really think they bought the photoshopped pictures and fabricated high school transcripts? Is there no due diligence required on their part to vet their self-declared athletes before admitting them? Everyone else jumps through hoops to provide all the data needed to submit an application. This has been going on for how long and admissions department never once found this scandal before now? Isn't that literally, in every sense, their job? What else does admissions do other than vet potential students?

They are guilty and my guess would be a lawsuit discovers as much. If not they are still responsible for complacency and should be punished.

>I haven't seen any indication that the colleges involved were aware this was happening in a way they overlooked.

No doubt the colleges involved are aware when someone is admitted whose credentials don’t measure up. That’s not something the colleges can bury there head in the sand about. We are talking about billion dollar institutions with entire admissions departments that pride themselves on a standard of student...you can’t just say in some instances rouge actors took bribes to allow students in school and no one knew anything about it.

The whole scandal is around faked credentials – faked sports accomplishments, fake standardized test scores. The schools, from what I’ve seen, were kept totally out of the loop.

That’s not at all what I read, for example:

>Singer used the foundation to collect payments from parents and pay bribes, court records show.

> UCLA, USC and Yale are victims of the bad actors involved

There is a mechanism of law for those who torts against a party are a result of torts by others to seek compensation for their liability, “contribution". [0]

> I haven't seen any indication that any colleges involved were aware this was happening in a way they overlooked.

Tort liability under the deceptive trade practices law used to sue the universities [1] doesn't require that they were are of going on, only that they advertised things that they did not provide, in this case a fair admissions process.

> I would love to hear how this lawsuit isn't frivolous

A frivolous lawsuit is, roughly, one where the facts don't support anything a reasonable person could view as eligible for compensation under the law cited. With regard to the deceptive trade practices law under which the universities are sued (other claims are made in the same lawsuit against the other actors in the scandal), advertising a good or service with features it does not actually have is the core of the offense (this is broader than civil fraud, which tends to require deliberate deception.) This seems to be in line with the other information about the scandal, and so unless the suing students have reason to know that the public information misrepresents the facts, the suit seems, on first impression, to be reasonable.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contribution_claim_(legal)

[1] see https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Co... ; Count II (pp. 21 et seq.)

Given that some of the bad actors worked for the universities, specifically athletic staff taking bribes, I think it’s not crazy to sue them.

Athletics has been a hotbed of corruption for decades; it's surprising there isn't closer monitoring there.

On the other hand, rowing....

What standing could these students possibly have? They didn't get in to all the colleges they wanted to because the admissions process wasn't "fair"? It never was fair nor does any admissions office I've ever heard of claim to be.

> What standing could these students possibly have?

The fact that they paid for something, via the application fee, that was advertised with features it doesn't have, and the fact that there are consumer protection laws that call that a deceptive trade practice and provide a remedy for it. (Also, the lawsuit is much broader than the universities and includes claims, including civil RICO pclaims, against the parties more directly involved in the core bribery scandal.)

What features didn't the application process have? Every college I've ever seen advertises "diversity" in their admissions process. If we peek under that diversity umbrella, we can see: Legacy, Donors Kids, Athletes, Full-Tuition Payers, Hard-Luck-Feel-Good-Stories, Employees' Children, Political Backscratching & everyone else.

Please show me one college that says "we _only_ use this list of criteria to determine admission". None do because they need the wiggle room for the aforementioned higher-value candidates. New buildings/NCAA titles/Sponsored Chairs don't cost nothin'!

> What features didn't the application process have?

See Count II of the suit, commencing on p.21, and the preceding factual allegations referenced within that Count.


You know that wiggle room I described? It's quoted right there in the linked document.

1) Yale - "The Admissions Committee then factors in student qualities such as motivation, curiosity, energy, leadership ability, and distinctive talents." [Ed. Note distinctive talents - includes being related to someone who paid for that new building on campus. Having your family name on a campus building is quite distinctive, or so I presume]

2) Stanfurd - "Remember, however, that our evaluation goes beyond any numerical formula. There is no minimum GPA or test score; nor is there any specific number of AP or honors courses you must have on your transcript in order to be admitted to Stanford." [Ed. Note: the evaluation goes beyond a numerical formula because it also includes who your parents are and how your enrollment will affect football season ticket sales]

3)G-town - "Georgetown maintains a holistic review process..." [Ed. Note: because holistic includes the whole Legacy thing]

4) UCLA - "These select applicants are the ones who would contribute the most to UCLA’s dynamic learning environment;" [Ed. Note: Is that a double entendre? You be the judge!]

etc., etc.

In summary, this lawsuit is DOA.

It would be very poetic if it turns out that one of these students actually had their test scores flipped by their parents without their knowledge.

Most schools require the organization that administers the exam to send the official scores. I can't imagine any school worth going to would allow for self-reporting of scores. It seems like the guy in charge of all of this had everyone from the exam proctors to heads of athletic departments to look the other way or just out right lie. I would be extremely pissed if I had been given an SAT or ACT by either of those two exam proctors, my college would instantly have a good reason to be suspicious about my exam scores.

I doubt these kids did any of the actual college application. If you are paying that much to get your kid into school, you are paying for someone to fill in the app, take the exams, write a bogus personal statement, and to pay off anyone to vouch for the lies. It's probably very turn key, you write a check and your kid gets an acceptance letter in the mail 6 months later. I'm sure these kids aren't in regular highschool either, they probably have "tutors" faking homeschool transcripts and credits for them. I wonder how well these kids do in college if they had to fake their application so badly.

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