It may have been unimaginable a year ago to imagine the public rooting for “Full House’s” Aunt Becky to potentially face prison time, but 2019 has brought us another year of a classic sitcom star facing criminal charges.
Fifty parents, including some high-profile celebrities, are facing charges after bribing universities in order to have their child admitted to the school, have been back in the spotlight as the accused are entering court. The most notable names involved in this event are Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin from “Full House.”
Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to allow her daughter to take a rigged college exam in which her answers would be secretly improved later on, and disguising this money as a tax-deductible charitable donation. She was arrested and released on a $250,000 bond in March, and pled guilty in early April.
Loughlin, however, has chosen to plead not guilty as of April 15. She and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. The couple allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes to the University of Southern California in order to have their two daughters framed as recruits for the college’s rowing team, despite neither participating in the sport.
Loughlin and her husband have waived their right to appear in court for an arraignment. Both Loughlin and Huffman may face significant prison time for these charges.
This ongoing investigation has sparked outrage across the country as well as on Siena’s own campus, where 98% of students are receiving financial aid according to niche.com. The knowledge that students across the country are able to get into Ivy League colleges without the same merits as those in less prominent schools has left many feeling cheated.
Michaela Bonney, a sophomore at Siena, is one of these students. “I’m very mad about it. I would have liked to go to an Ivy League college if I knew that people were getting in with terrible grades!” said Bonney, who was particularly bothered by the fact that some of these students don’t seem to care about actually receiving an education at all.
Lori Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, has been in the news for portraying this sentiment–Jade is a Youtuber with almost two million subscribers who vlogs about her life. In a now-deleted Q&A video on her channel, Jade told her fans that she would be going to USC in the fall, but that her career as a social media influencer may get in the way of her being able to attend classes. In the video, which has been re-uploaded by other Youtube accounts, Jade says “I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend…but I do want the experience of like game days and partying–I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
The fact that these students are taking up classroom spaces that could go to disadvantaged, but hardworking, students was another factor noted by fellow Siena sophomore Nicole Gazdik. “It really disappoints me that some people care so little about college…[it] takes away so many opportunities for other people who actually deserve to be there.” Gazdik also expressed concerns that have been somewhat lost in the whirlwind of the drama surrounding the case–if these parents have been able to pay their way into their students holding seats, how are they staying afloat? Are these students also paying for better grades?
This scandal is far from over; while the public awaits sentencing, and whatever other scandals may come out in the meantime, it is important for college students across the country to remember what they are pursuing higher education for. Whether it was to better your situation, find a lucrative career, enrich your life, learn something new–let’s just hope that it was better than just to party, and that it didn’t take an extra half a million dollars from your parents to get there.