19 votes

FBI accuses wealthy parents, including celebrities, in college-entrance bribery scheme

18 comments

  1. [16]
    dubteedub Link
    Buzzfeed has more details in thier article on this here: Felicity Huffman And Lori Loughlin Are Among Dozens Charged In A Massive College Admissions Scam Buzzfeed also rehosted the full criminal...

    Buzzfeed has more details in thier article on this here:

    Among those charged are three accused of organizing the scheme, two ACT/SAT administrators, an exam proctor, one college administrator, nine coaches from elite schools, and 33 parents, US Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a press conference Tuesday.

    For the college entrance exams, cheating was facilitated "in some cases by posing as the actual students, and in others by providing students with answers during the exams or by correcting their answers after they had completed the exams," according to the criminal complaint.

    “In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating," the FBI said.

    University athletic coaches and administrators were also allegedly bribed "to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits — regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play."

    In some cases, photos of the students playing sports were staged, and some even had their heads photoshopped onto the bodies of real athletes.

    Buzzfeed also rehosted the full criminal complaint at the end of their article for those that want to dig into the details more.


    I mostly just feel bad for the kids involved in this, not just the kids of parents who cheated / bribed for them, but all the talented kids who got rejected unfairly because of this scam.

    To know that your parents think so little of you that you need to cheat to get into certain schools says a lot. I can't imagine spending tens of thousands of dollars to bribe a coach or test proctor. Why not invest that time and money in your kid so they actually participate in sports or get them test prep to do well on exams on their own?

    8 votes
    1. [15]
      Pilgrim Link Parent
      I think it's a continuation of helicopter parenting that many parents engage in early in childhood that's continued until it can't stop. It's not unusual for my 9-year-old's peers to have...

      Why not invest that time and money in your kid so they actually participate in sports or get them test prep to do well on exams on their own?

      I think it's a continuation of helicopter parenting that many parents engage in early in childhood that's continued until it can't stop.

      It's not unusual for my 9-year-old's peers to have adult-quality work hung up next to his in the school's hallway. Most nine-year-olds aren't neat, or particularly color coordinated, at least not to the pintrest-type-level that I see on display.

      This is doing the child a disservice as they're not getting the opportunity to grow their own skills, especially the important lesson of receiving a failing grade when one doesn't put the requisite work in. All they're really learning is that mom or dad will bail them out of their poor choices... and they probably will, for the rest of their lives. The term "arrested development" comes to mind.

      8 votes
      1. [14]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        Some perspective from someone who's been through this. When I was growing up, I really didn't care much about doing well, or growing as a person, or learning that much. I was curious, but about...

        This is doing the child a disservice as they're not getting the opportunity to grow their own skills, especially the important lesson of receiving a failing grade when one doesn't put the requisite work in.

        Some perspective from someone who's been through this.

        When I was growing up, I really didn't care much about doing well, or growing as a person, or learning that much. I was curious, but about things the school or the parents were unwilling and unable to teach me. I'd spend time learning about game modding, and cool new gadgets, and the new cool new phones (dumb-, then smart-). I'd be writing, making art in Photoshop, dancing when nobody was watching. Listening to music that reflected my feelings (any surprise that it was hardcore rap?), trying to make people like me (any surprise that it failed?), chatting with people all over the world (that went well)... But not school. Not the tiresome school projects. Not the "helping school" part (which is unpaid child labor that nobody talks about). Not any of that shit.

        When I was approaching the local equivalent of high school (somewhere between 6th and 8th grade), I was given an assignment: draw something on a subject. Can't remember whether I didn't like the assignment, or was afraid I'd fail it ('cause I liked drawing and wanted to be good at art but knew I didn't have the skills), but I asked my mother to do it. She sat down and copied the cover of a book I liked, like I asked her. I didn't feel guilty, or shallow, or hollowed-out - not that I remember, anyway. My parents doing stuff for me was entirely okay by me.

        It was only later - much later, like, a few years ago - that I came to realize both the importance of growth and that I really, really liked being capable at the things that defined my livelihood. It was then that I started to be actively-, aggressively-defiant about my autonomy and getting things done my way (which I saw as a better way, born of reason and a pretty good intuitive taste for good living). This caused a lot of conflict while I was living with my parents.

        I wasn't the only one in the generation. I used to know a girl whose boyfriend - a guy my age - would, when he was 18, still ask his mother to make him sandwiches. Even then I knew it was bad, but I didn't quite realize just how bad it was. It was a vague feeling, somewhere in the background of my thought process, that I couldn't conceptualize.

        To this day, I dread failure. For the longest time, I couldn't fathom the possibility that I could be bad at something. Whenever I was, it came as a shock - mostly when I met other people who, reasonably, didn't buy into my bullshit. To this day, I'd rather not touch the things that I love doing simply because I fear I could fail at them, whatever "fail" means in any given instance. I haven't written anything with a plot in more than a year, and even then it was after months-long forced hiatus. Getting less-than-perfect score? I'd rather not fucking do the thing.

        I recognize how ludicrious my perception is, and am doing my best to combat it - mostly because I really, really want to start writing again, like in the first few months, when it was fun, exciting, exploratory, experimental - all kinds of good. Still, it's what I have. Now that I'm trying to make a name for myself, it's causing me grief. I'm sure I could've done better with some discipline and a more rigid ruling earlier in my life.

        If I ever have kids, this is a lesson I'm taking seriously.

        6 votes
        1. [13]
          NaraVara (edited ) Link Parent
          This is an odd internalization of corporate logic. Not all “work” is paid. Most of the work that’s worthwhile isn’t, your parents didn’t get paid for changing your diaper either. Lots of the work...

          Not the "helping school" part (which is unpaid child labor that nobody talks about). Not any of that shit.

          This is an odd internalization of corporate logic. Not all “work” is paid. Most of the work that’s worthwhile isn’t, your parents didn’t get paid for changing your diaper either. Lots of the work we do is just a regular chore that we take on to maintain our communities. Teaching kids to do chores is a way to teach them to be responsible for and respectful of their community and surroundings.

          It makes me really sad to see how many people categorize themselves as purely consumer animals who exist solely to collect money and then consume things with it. It seems empty and it’s a recipe for all kinds of anxiety issues.

          4 votes
          1. [7]
            Whom Link Parent
            Pretending that you do not operate in a world in which one has to sell their own labor is not resisting corporate logic, it's buying into it entirely because nothing is actually different except...

            Pretending that you do not operate in a world in which one has to sell their own labor is not resisting corporate logic, it's buying into it entirely because nothing is actually different except that you don't gain from it. Completing any task worth doing does have some kind of intrinsic reward, but don't make the mistake of chasing that reward without recognizing the world you're forced into, otherwise you'll end up in one of those industries filled with people doing it "for the love" and getting fucked for it. (Related issues being people doing free labor for "exposure" and the crisis of unpaid internships)

            I'd separate out chores for family and doing non-educational labor for a school for that reason. At least in good circumstances, one can reasonably assume that their relationship with their parents is one that's ocurring in good faith and where the parents genuinely want the best for their child...we should be able to make the assumption that there is not going to be a tension there similar to the one between employer and employee. A school, even in the best case scenario, exists to prepare students for work and teaching them to work for the intrinsic rewards in that work in that context is only setting them up to be gullible and exploitable.

            I don't think it's comparable to what we all imagine when we think "child labor," to be clear, but having your middle school kids dig a ditch for the school is teaching the wrong lessons.

            2 votes
            1. [6]
              NaraVara (edited ) Link Parent
              This basically boils down to saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And since in this case, being one of ‘em is a psychically toxic and alienated way of existing it’s really not healthy for...

              it's buying into it entirely because nothing is actually different except that you don't gain from it.

              This basically boils down to saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And since in this case, being one of ‘em is a psychically toxic and alienated way of existing it’s really not healthy for people to be this way. Only a small minority will ever be successful under this world because it’s dog-eat-dog.

              School is the main way kids are socialized into how they should behave in the real world. And in the real world, you really are expected to clean up after yourself and take care of your colleagues and neighbors without expectation of reward. Workplaces where people don’t do this are horrible places to work. I make a point of hiring for people who don’t consider themselves above emptying the office dishwasher in the morning. People who don’t tend to be overgrown man-children (and it way too often leaves the work of maintaining our office space on the shoulders of the women in the office as a result).

              More importantly, workplaces where workers don’t take care of each other are workplaces that can’t develop a sense of solidarity and protect each other when they’re being screwed. It doesn’t make them gullible and exploitable, it gives them a sense of ethics and norms that will help them resist exploitation and feel a sense of investment in each other. Kids who have everything done for them and are allowed to isolate themselves from recognition of how much actual work goes into maintaining their lives are the ones who tend to be spoiled and naive, not the ones raised to pick up litter and clean their classrooms.

              You can be in this for the love without getting hoodwinked. You just have the be willing to walk away and not put up with getting less than your peers. I’ve made the case multiple times at work that I am protesting to specific things solely because I know that if I don’t all the shit will eventually end up falling on me since I’m not one to complain normally. It goes over fine and I end up getting my way more often than not.

              3 votes
              1. [5]
                Whom (edited ) Link Parent
                If "I want to be paid while being exploited instead of being exploited to the maximum degree possible" is "joining em" to you, I don't know what to tell you. Pretending not to participate doesn't...

                If "I want to be paid while being exploited instead of being exploited to the maximum degree possible" is "joining em" to you, I don't know what to tell you. Pretending not to participate doesn't mean anything. You're not resisting or challenging anything, the only thing you've ensured is that the people who are already benefitting too much from the labor of people like you will benefit more. You're promoting free labor as if it's an act of resistance to the structure that benefits from that labor, it makes no sense. (Not that actual non-participation does anything, either, but this isn't even that). In our everyday lives, understanding the world we live in and how to navigate that the best isn't giving in, it's recognizing reality and not covering our ears...that was the whole problem with hippies in communes and such, they thought freeing their mind did something when in reality it helped no one and just ensured they wouldn't contribute to helping anyone. By all means resist! Do so violently if you want to, I'm far from suggesting we give in. But doing things for free because you think your mind is free from the corporate mentality and you can bring community to the workplace is just further propping up that system.

                I know a whole lot of us can't avoid it for fear of being fired or surpassed by our peers, but if you have the choice you absolutely should not do any work at your job that you are not paid for. To do otherwise, no matter how much you frame it as "personal responsibility" as if the opportunity to be exploited is something worthy of respect, is harming your peers and ultimately yourself. While the people who don't maintain and improve their workplace for free may well be manchildren who don't do what they should in life in general, that's a big assumption. They might also just be people who understand that their work is worth something and that giving it away devalues them.

                Take pride in maintaining your home and your community. Raise your kid in a way that they will value those things. You can learn those skills without it being done in school where that context makes the lesson very different. You can be far from having everything done for you as a child and not dig ditches for your school. There's a lot more room for that to be learned in a healthy way from family.

                Also if that came off too harsh, I'm sorry...I disagree with you but I definitely understand the suspicion that comes when you see things getting boiled down to money and employer/employee relationships, and in a lot of cases I would agree. I want to be clear that trying to tear ourselves away from the dominant ideology is hard and there's no clear path. A lot of the more obvious ones look subversive but end up just reinforcing the things we don't like...going down that path is how you end up with silicon valley things where you get silly chairs but get driven harder as a result. As with ideology in general, the moment we start to think we've escaped, the grip it has on us is even stronger, as suddenly we convince ourselves those thoughts are our own. So it's tough, and I don't mean to act like I have it all figured out...but we can at least pinpoint which things are not steps forward.

                1 vote
                1. [4]
                  NaraVara Link Parent
                  Cleaning your dishes when you’re done with them or refreshing the coffee pot when you empty it rather than leaving it for your coworkers to deal with isn’t “exploitation.” It’s refraining from...

                  Cleaning your dishes when you’re done with them or refreshing the coffee pot when you empty it rather than leaving it for your coworkers to deal with isn’t “exploitation.” It’s refraining from exploiting your coworkers who will wind up having to either do it for you or just live/work in a dirtier, less supporting office environment.

                  Maintaining a decent work culture where people look out for each other is a collaborative effort between the people who work there. Trying to argue that basic social niceties and maintenance of the area is special “labor” that needs to be accounted for would wind up being more exploitative and dystopian. That’s how you get chore wheels and “minimum pieces of flair” requirements like in Office Space.

                  And honestly, no form of worker control or distributed ownership can ever work if people aren’t practiced in how to police, maintain, and manage their own affairs. It’s a necessary requirement of not being under someone’s boot.

                  1. [3]
                    Whom Link Parent
                    You're reducing it to the smallest possible example and of course it will look petty if I come back with the obvious "well they shouldn't have to do it either if they're not being compensated,"...

                    You're reducing it to the smallest possible example and of course it will look petty if I come back with the obvious "well they shouldn't have to do it either if they're not being compensated," but the work that children do for their schools is often more like digging up an area for a new addition to the school or organizing things for teachers. Not torturous abuses, but still teaching the wrong lessons. With the smallest things like taking out trash, it's mostly trivial either way and that's a skill that generalizes well enough that it should continue to be taught in schools anyway, but there are bigger things that create clear parallels to taking on extra projects or otherwise not recognizing your work's own worth.

                    Hell, I agree that framing everything as labor that needs to be compensated makes human relationships more dystopian, that's one of the reasons I'm mixed on the concept of emotional labor between friends. But recognizing that that's already the reality isn't the same as forcing it where it already isn't. We're not the ones who made money part of that relationship. Whether or not we pay attention or whatever we call it, the employer is not paying for something that is getting done.

                    It gets more obvious if you push it a little bit. What about cleaning the toilets? Some might be okay with that, but I think many would either like to be paid to do that or see someone else paid to do it. Fixing equipment? Seems like these are basic things that should be done in your home life, but the relationship in the workplace changes that. Nothing is just the task in itself

                    And honestly, no form of worker control or distributed ownership can ever work if people aren’t practiced in how to police, maintain, and manage their own affairs.

                    Sure. That doesn't mean that you should be taught that through a structure that's preparing you for something that is as radically far from worker controlled as possible. It's important to keep in mind that changing who we are and how we act doesn't change our situation, changing our situation changes who we are and how we act. You don't happen upon perfect idealistic harmony by pretending you already have it.

                    I'll back out now, though. If the disagreement comes down to something as minor as the examples you gave, I don't mind just letting that be. Like in reality with all factors accounted for, I'd say do it to not have to deal with annoying people even if I'm opposed to it when I'm reasoning through things. There's far bigger fish to fry.

                    1. [2]
                      NaraVara Link Parent
                      This just hasn’t been my experience. I don’t know many teachers who would trust their students to bother organizing their stuff well without direction. And in places where they do, that’s also...

                      but the work that children do for their schools is often more like digging up an area for a new addition to the school or organizing things for teachers.

                      This just hasn’t been my experience. I don’t know many teachers who would trust their students to bother organizing their stuff well without direction. And in places where they do, that’s also part of the learning process.

                      And actually making kids do work you would expect of a bonded contractor as anything but a volunteer activity, that includes waivers and permission slips, is going to come with serious liability issues if anyone gets hurt. Unpaid help wouldn’t even do a good job of that unless it’s something simple like making a garden.

                      That doesn't mean that you should be taught that through a structure that's preparing you for something that is as radically far from worker controlled as possible.

                      School is where kids learn to self govern. Where else would they learn these skills? All those social clubs and student councils and volunteer groups are how kids learn to organize themselves, accomplish goals collaboratively, delegate responsibility, and amicably resolve disputes.

                      I actually see the differences in my own nephews and nieces and fresh-our-of-school employees at my own company. The ones who were involved in these sorts of thing are also quite good at working in groups and, more importantly, pushing back against authority figures. The types who keep their heads down and do exactly as they’re told are much more likely to just sit and take bad treatment, quietly stew, and then leave unhappy without changing things.

                      Just as an anecdote, one of my coworkers stepped up to create a “culture committee” at work, which started as an unpaid and voluntary side project that was mostly just for checking off some EEO requirements. She’s been able to morph that into a way to push for pay equity and a more fair/transparent performance review process. She’s gotten people raises, and she’s gotten us employees opportunities to have input into our hiring process.

                      I myself manage an office lending library and a regular “toastmasters” show-and-tell speaker session. I started it because I noticed that most of the junior developers we hire are kind of clueless about how to advocate for their own interests and too inclined to trust their senior management. So I’ve been exposing them to (soft) anarchist literature and providing lectures on various topics that will help them, like ethics (actual ethics, not the perfunctory business ethics classes) and why bitcoin is not a smart savings/investment strategy. This has given me a platform to advocate for all sorts of stuff. Through managing the library I eventually was able to collect data and make a case for getting everyone at my company a free audible subscription as a fringe benefit. I’ve also been able to stoke general antagonism within the office against authoritarian governments, which has allowed me to shut down our sales people when they’ve proposed pursuing contracts with ICE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Being actively involved is the only way to protect your workplaces from dictating terms to you. We’re not at a point yet where we can create a white collar Union, but we’re doing what we can.

                      1. Whom Link Parent
                        Well then we've had very different experiences :P Though I would even include basic things like a garden in that unless it's part of an educational activity like a biology class (which I imagine...

                        Well then we've had very different experiences :P Though I would even include basic things like a garden in that unless it's part of an educational activity like a biology class (which I imagine it usually is, but I've seen both). And also volunteer groups and clubs are not what I'm talking about at all, those have the opportunity to be entirely disconnected from the school as a structure and teach those things much like good parenting might. You're really generalizing my point into "doing things is bad," which is far from what I was getting at.

                        It goes without saying that what you talk about in your last paragraph is great and not something I would ever talk shit about. I don't literally mean don't do anything you aren't directly paid for, of course when you do things that are genuinely subversive and helpful there's no way I could object to that.

          2. [5]
            ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            Taking a bite out of my comments and using it as a stand for your own views has been done before.

            Taking a bite out of my comments and using it as a stand for your own views has been done before.

            1. [4]
              NaraVara Link Parent
              Honestly I see some of the anxieties you’re talking about as stemming from either that root cause or closely associated ones. It’s normal to feel some fear of failure, but the kind of anxiety that...

              Honestly I see some of the anxieties you’re talking about as stemming from either that root cause or closely associated ones.

              It’s normal to feel some fear of failure, but the kind of anxiety that keeps you from going for it results from putting a bunch of unrelated baggage into it, and the reason so many people have this hang up is because our culture coaches people into adopting this kind of mentality of only doing stuff you want to at the time and if there is something in it for you.

              If your lens for viewing anything you do is focused on outcomes or deserts, you’re always going to be dissatisfied because reality can never meet expectations. And this includes the kind of lifestylist ideas where people put a ton of energy into wondering “what does this say about me? How does this choice reflect on who I am as a person?” It’s all just too much, it puts too much burden onto every little decision and can be completely paralyzing.

              The only way to be comfortable with being out of your comfort-zone is to learn to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing in its own right, either because it is your duty or because you feel like you should.

              This isn’t exactly a new insight either. Religious sources from the Bhagavad Gita and Lao Tze say it, even secular ones like Camus, Sartre, and Kierkegaard have backed into this idea.

              2 votes
              1. [3]
                ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
                It could when your expectations are healthy. The ones I have are most certainly not - and I feel I'm not alone in this. There's this whole issue about being in love with the idea of something, yet...

                If your lens for viewing anything you do is focused on outcomes or deserts, you’re always going to be dissatisfied because reality can never meet expectations.

                It could when your expectations are healthy. The ones I have are most certainly not - and I feel I'm not alone in this. There's this whole issue about being in love with the idea of something, yet dreading to approach the thing itself, whether it's a relationship, or doing that one small thing that you think is best done, or putting effort into making your pet project a reality. Writers, painters, poets, engineers, businessmen... Any sort of reaching-out may be met with the unhealthy amount of disabling anxiety when time comes to meet the reality of it all.

                And it's not that reaching out is bad: being out of one's zone of comfort is rewarding - with experience if not with the desired outcomes, and experience is immensely valuable. I feel like people are being pushed to "achieving something" just for the sake of achieving something, rather than because it's something they genuinely feel they should accomplish in their lifetime. The cult of changing the world, in the unhealthy and exaggerated ways. The truth is, anyone can change the world, but most people aren't going to be as famous as Einstein, or Camus, or Elizabeth II. They're going to turn things around - for better or worse - on a smaller scale, in ways that don't get Buzzfeed recognition yet matter to the people it touches.

                But frankly, I'm not sure how to approach this. The only other way that seems to make sense - diligence and discipline - don't quite click with me. Intellectually, I recognize the appeal and the wisdom of this approach - yet emotionally, I find it boring because it's not as flashy and pithy as the Silicon Valley-level exercise in worldshaping. I feel like I don't have the grasp on the philosophical base of it: it doesn't quite make sense to me.

                Maybe I'm just being a lil' bitch about it 'cause I'm too scared to shed the comfort of living small, satied on the greatness of my precious ideas instead of going out and facing the fact that it ain't gonna be pretty all the time. How would I approach it, though? The idea is clear: "put in the work" - but how, exactly? how often? when? what deserves work before any other thing? and so on, and so forth.

                1. [2]
                  NaraVara Link Parent
                  It’s important not to be too hard on yourself. I also have a bit of a masochistic drive that makes my internal monologue self-critical like this, but I find that constantly repeating self...

                  Maybe I'm just being a lil' bitch about it

                  It’s important not to be too hard on yourself. I also have a bit of a masochistic drive that makes my internal monologue self-critical like this, but I find that constantly repeating self criticism to myself eventually just makes me resigned to the thing I’m criticizing rather than motivated to change it.

                  'cause I'm too scared to shed the comfort of living small, satied on the greatness of my precious ideas instead of going out and facing the fact that it ain't gonna be pretty all the time. How would I approach it, though? The idea is clear: "put in the work" - but how, exactly

                  Have you ever read “The Brothers Karamazov?” It kind of addresses this tension between taking care of small things in your community and wanting to save “the world.” Lots of smart, high-achieving, but anxious types find it to be “life changing” books.

                  As far as how to make the discipline bit make sense, it really is just about developing a routine or force of habit. Eventually you just stop caring about whether you’re doing something right or what it does for you and you just do the thing. But if you’re always trying to keep score of what you’re doing or track how it aligns to some broader goal you’re more likely to fall off because you start bundling a bunch of expectations on it.

                  1 vote
                  1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
                    This resonates with what I've heard about it so far. "Habit is free behavior". "Discipline trumps passion". They all make sense, intellectually, but they don't click. I guess they will once I find...

                    it really is just about developing a routine or force of habit.

                    This resonates with what I've heard about it so far. "Habit is free behavior". "Discipline trumps passion". They all make sense, intellectually, but they don't click.

                    I guess they will once I find myself deep enough in a rut. That's where all the clearest revelations come, right? At the point where so few things matter that, for a change, you're able to get a good, hard look at yourself.

  2. [2]
    synergy Link
    whats new. they already do this with donations and paying people to take the SATs for their kids. Many kids i went to school with did this.

    whats new. they already do this with donations and paying people to take the SATs for their kids. Many kids i went to school with did this.

    1. base_class Link Parent
      What's new is that someone is prosecuting them for it (not donors).

      What's new is that someone is prosecuting them for it (not donors).

      3 votes