Sinai is proud to share that we are a publication ran by college students. This identity has given us access to certain spaces and people, that more formal publications do not. One of our Sinai contributors contacted a student who has been involved in the college admissions scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues. For privacy reasons, the name of this student and the college they attend will not be disclosed. We will call her Margaret, for the purpose of this article. This interview is meant to start a dialogue about what this scandal means in today’s economic climate.
Sinai: The Varsity Blues scandal triggered an array of emotions, and people everywhere were questioning who they should blame. With that in mind, we must ask: Were you ever aware of your guardians actions?
Margaret: I was never aware of the fraud during my college admissions process. I always believed that my SAT scores were my own. I believe my parents didn’t inform me that they were being doctored, because they knew what my reaction would be. When the story broke, I couldn’t help but wonder if they simply doubted my intelligence.
Sinai: Some very popular and powerful people have been the subject of this controversy. The operation is often linked to well-known students like Olivia Jade. As a student who isn’t in the public, how has the controversy affected your life on campus?
Margaret: While I haven’t faced public scrutiny, many people who know me by name have connected me to the scandal. I have lost associates, but my friends have remained. Some of my professors have made comments, but never said anything to me directly. However, I don’t blame people for not trusting me or not wanting to be associated with me. My parents and I represent each other. Of course, there will be speculation about my integrity due to the scandal. I’d be naive to think that it will have no influence on how people perceive me. I will just try to allow my actions to speak for themselves.
Sinai: On social media, there were dozens of comments from frustrated high school students expressing their complaints. Many couldn’t fathom why they seemed to have perfect stats and essays but were rejected from T10 schools. Naturally, students like you, who cheated the system, were blamed. What is your response to this?
Margaret: I empathize with these people and cannot say that they’re wrong. I am one person, so many of these students would not have been accepted, regardless of Varsity Blues, but there was probably a student who deserved my spot, and would have gotten it if my scores weren’t doctored. The college admissions process is already so intense and unfair, so I just feel bad knowing that my family made it more difficult for other hard working students.
Sinai: What have you taken away from these events?
Margaret: I think Varsity Blues has forced me to check my privilege. When you’re growing up relatively wealthy, it’s as if you’re in a bubble. I never truly considered how much my parents have given me, and how their actions predispose me to success. So many people who know me, have shared their perspectives and experiences. People have told me that they self-studied the SAT because it was unrealistic for them, and most Americans, to pay for private tutoring or classes. I’ve spoken to first gen students at my campus who navigated the entire college process alone, while I just left everything to my parents.These conversations force me to contextualize the scandal. It isn’t just about me, or other kids. Or even the college admissions process. It’s about elitism. The scandal has forced me to recognize that success isn’t always earned. That applies to me, and so many other wealthy people in our country. No matter how hard some Americans work, their efforts will not be recognized because of systemic barriers that are in place. I acknowledge that my family took part in that, and I apologize.