News broke in March that a number of wealthy parents, including some celebrities, had allegedly bribed their children's way into top-tier universities. But as the case continues, it looks like even more people will be caught in the judicial whirlwind. And yet, there's a group that has fallen under the news radar a bit: the students themselves. Are students being charged in the college admissions scandal? They're definitely facing some consequences.
On Tuesday, March 12, news broke that a few celebrities were caught up in a college admissions scandal where they allegedly bribed their childrens' way into some big-name universities like Stanford and Yale. Elite Daily reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of Massachusetts, which is leading the case and brought the indictments forward, for comment at the time, but did not hear back. Some parents allegedly falsified test scores, while others allegedly bribed coaches to falsely claim students as top athletes so they'd be recruited by top schools, according to The New York Times. There are 50 people wrapped up in the scandal — 33 of which have already been charged — including Aunt Becky, uh, I mean, Lori Loughlin, and actress Felicity Huffman. A spokesperson for Loughlin said she "does not have any information to share" in response to Elite Daily's request for comment at the time, while Huffman's spokesperson did not respond to Elite Daily's previous request for comment. Loughlin has since pleaded not guilty, while Huffman has pleaded guilty.
But what about all those students who got into college because their parents allegedly cheated their way in? Well, in some cases, they may be allowed to continue their college careers as planned. In others... maybe not.
As of May 2, no students have been charged in the college admissions scandal — according to Vanity Fair, many of the students didn't even know what their parents were doing — but that doesn't mean they're entirely free from consequences. At least one student has had to rethink his or her college plans, after Stanford University posted a statement on their site on April 2 stating they have "rescinded admission" of an unnamed student whose application allegedly contained some false information. Per the statement, the student was removed from campus and the credits they had earned were expunged. Yale University also kicked out an admitted student in the scandal, per a statement.
Which is not to say that students won't be charged. Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said in a press conference on March 12 that while the parents were "prime movers" of the scandal, it was still possible. "It remains to be seen whether we charge any of the students," he said.
Whether the students are explicitly punished or not, it's important to note that since March 12, the names of the parents being indicted have continued to be made public, and as a result, their kids can't hide either. Vanity Fair reported on March 15 that many of the students allegedly involved have gone off the grid: Some deleted all their social media, others switched their profiles to private, and some disabled their comments. (Having to delete your online footprint is a pretty big deal for college kids, but probably not as big a deal as finding out that you didn't get into the college of your dreams, but other kids did because their parents allegedly bribed their way in).
But out of all the students involved in the scandal, only one has spoken out — Jack Buckingham, whose mother, marketing expert Jane Buckingham, allegedly paid $50,000 to have an ACT proctor take her son's exam on his behalf, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She has since pleaded guilty. In a March 13 statement, Buckingham told the publication he was "upset" to learn he was "unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve spots."
Buckingham went on to apologize to those students who worked hard and didn't get what they deserved and said that he hopes this changes the admissions landscape for the better so that kids get in on merit instead of other factors. He said,
For that I am sorry though I know my word does not mean much to many people at the moment. While the situation I am going through is not a pleasant one, I take comfort in the fact that this might help finally cut down on money and wealth being such a heavy factor in college admissions. Instead, I hope colleges may prioritize [looking at] an applicants' character, intellect and other qualities over everything else.
Either way — this scandal is certainly an education. But not, probably, the type these students were hoping for.