College cheating scandal escalates

Since the chain of college cheating events led by Rick Singer, a significant figure in the world of college admissions, unraveled in March 2019, many changes have occurred both in sentencing those involved and in the college application process. Many people involved are currently facing the consequences of their actions. 

Felicity Huffman pled guilty for her part in the college admission scandal. Huffman is the first to be sentenced for her involvement in the cheating scandal, and she will begin her two week sentence on Oct. 25. 

“Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in jail for paying $15,000 in a conspiracy to inflate the SAT score of her oldest daughter–a punishment that sets a benchmark for what other accused parents could face in the college admissions bribery scandal,” according to The Washington Post. Lori Loughlin has not yet been convicted for her actions in the college admissions scandal,however, she continues to plead not guilty. Huffman’s sentence may contribute to Loughlin’s fate. 

“Felicity Huffman’s sentence means Lori Loughlin is facing much more time if she gets convicted,” says Vinnie Politan, the lead anchor on Court TV, according to an interview between him and USA Today. “The two questions in her case are whether a jury will believe USC is really a ‘victim’ in the case and whether they will believe the government’s star witness, who was the ringleader of the whole scam (and has also [pled] guilty).”

Similar to Loughlin’s case, much investigation has been done as to how universities were involved with the cheating, and necessary changes are being made to prevent this from happening in the future. One success has been the investigation with the University of California, Los Angeles. 

“Last week, The Los Angeles Times reported that UCLA had missed a chance to stop Mr. Singer in 2014, when an internal investigation by the university found evidence that he was encouraging parents to donate money to the athletic department in order to get their students admitted as athletic recruits, and that in one case, he had offered to create a fake athletic profile for an applicant in a sport she did not play,” stated an article by The New York Times.

Additionally, due to Singer’s connection to the University of Southern California, the university is being closely looked at. 

“USC is now at the center of the sprawling college admissions scandal, in which actresses, tech figures and corporate power brokers were accused of hiring Singer to bribe and cheat their children into elite colleges,” according to The Los Angeles Times. “While Singer had toeholds on numerous campuses, USC stands out: four members of the school’s athletic department and 19 parents of USC students were charged in the case.”

As the case has unfolded, a total of 52 defendants have been accused, 35 of which were parents. The newest defendant, Xiaoning Sui, a 48-year-old mother is being charged with paying $400,000 to make her son a soccer recruit for UCLA. Sui was apprehended in Spain on Sept. 16, and plans are being made to transfer her to Boston to discuss charges.

“The indictment against Ms. Sui says she conspired with Mr. Singer and a new person in the case, ‘Recruiter 1,’ who is based in Sarasota, Fla., and owned and operated a service that matched high school tennis players with college coaches…” according to The New York Times. “Mr. Singer spoke to ‘Recruiter 1’ by phone in early August 2018, and listed the price it would cost to secure Ms. Sui’s son’s admission to various schools, including UCLA, through bribery.”

Lifetime will release a movie about the college admissions scandal on Oct. 12. This movie will spread awareness about how people cheated the system and what their punishments are. “Both women [Penelope Ann Miller and Mia Kirshner] are desperate to get their blandly attractive teenage children into college and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so, as Kirshner dramatically intones to the skeevy college admissions counselor (Michael Shanks) serving as a stand-in for scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer, slick convertible and helmet haircut and all,” stated Rolling Stone. “So the moms arrange for stand-ins to doctor their kids’ SAT scores without their knowledge.”