It’s a scandal that has all the right ingredients - celebrity, trusted institutions, entitlement, bribery and now stars potentially behind bars.
The 50 people charged on March 12 in a college admissions conspiracy include the tennis coach for the Obama family, an investor and friend of Bono and TV celebrities Felicity Huffman from Desperate Housewives and Full House’s Lori Loughlin.
They are all wealthy, connected and parents who participated in a scheme that saw cheating on admission tests and bribery of college coaches to get their kids into some of the most elite schools across America.
It’s embarrassing for the kids, the parents and the schools. But nonetheless, there will be consequences. This conspiracy was brought down by the FBI after all.
However, there is collateral damage that has also been done to America’s academic community. The reputation, importance and value of a degree from a post-secondary institution has been sullied. And undoing this damage will not be easy.
Dr. David Rettinger is Director of Academic Integrity at the University of Mary Washington and President of the International Center for Academic Integrity, an organization founded to combat cheating, plagiarism and academic dishonesty in higher education.
“With the recent revelations from the indictments in Operation Varsity Blues, the integrity of higher education is once again under attack. As a scholar of student ethics and President of the International Center for Academic Integrity, I encourage both condemnation of this behavior and understanding of the context in which it occurred. Our society is commodifying higher education, focusing on degrees and not learning. I hope that the public discourse about education can focus on authentic learning rather than degrees and qualifications, so that higher education can remain a public good.” Approved quote from Dr. David Rettinger
Dr. Rettinger is available to speak with media regarding this scandal as well as the importance of education and how universities and colleges across America will need to work to rebuild trust in the institutions that have been impacted by these events. Simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.
David Rettinger Associate Professor and Director for Academic Integrity Programs
Rettinger focuses on academic integrity and efforts to combat cheating.