USC’s campus newspaper is chastising school administrators for offering ‘flimsy solutions and weak promises’ in the wake of college admissions scandal
The University of Southern California’s campus newspaper, The Daily Trojan, on Monday criticized the school’s response to the alleged $25 million college admissions scandal that ripped some of the glossy veneer off of USC and several other elite colleges and universities this month.
Court documents reveal an FBI investigation into a multilayered operation in which wealthy parents and others are accused of paying and accepting bribes to facilitate admission to elite universities on behalf of their children. No schools were charged with any wrongdoing.
Stanford, Georgetown, UCLA, and Yale are among the schools mentioned in the FBI probe, but USC appears most frequently in the court documents, The Daily Trojan writes.
The publication homed in on Donna Heinel, a former USC associate athletic director accused of receiving $1.3 million in bribes for improperly classifying some applicants as athletic recruits. The editorial board rebuked athletic director Lynn Swann for saying he was “blindsided” by the discovery.
In response to the scandal, USC’s interim president Wanda Austin sent a campus-wide email that painted USC as the “victim” in the matter.
The Daily Trojan says that is another mistake.
“Again and again, the University rolls over and acts helpless after it has turned a blind eye toward the systematic abuses of power happening under its own roof,” the editorial board writes.
The op-ed implores USC to own its lapses of oversight and make a good-faith effort to create and execute checks and balances that it says have been missing from the institution.
USC has been at the center of multiple controversies in recent years. The most notable recent example was the campus gynecologist, George Tyndall, who was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple patients during his nearly 30-year tenure.
“Scandal after scandal, USC consistently claims it isn’t at fault — even going so far as to pin itself as the victim in this most recent case, because it supposedly had no prior knowledge,” the op-ed reads, referring to the admissions controversy.
The editorial board says USC’s “purported oblivion” doesn’t absolve the school of its transgressions: “On the contrary, the university’s ignorance to egregious corruption reflects a gross, unforgivable negligence that further implicates USC for all of these scandals on its own.”
The op-ed writers also accused the school’s board of trustees of focusing too much on “maintaining USC’s reputation and prominence.”
But they also reminded readers that the private school, with its $57,000-per-year tuition, is situated on the cusp of working-class South Los Angeles, and is “made up of more than just rich kids.” It represents the hopes and aspirations of current and prospective students who come from humble beginnings.
“We are low-income students who work multiple jobs to pay our own ways through college. … We are first-generation students whose parents struggle to fund the elite educations they themselves could only dream of,” the op-ed reads.
Conjuring up the “thousands of prospective students” who “dream” of getting into USC, the editorial board says, “Until USC brings about tangible changes to its mindset and culture at the top level, its students — past, present and future — cannot see it as the elite educational institution it claims to be.”
In reponse to the cheating scandal USC released the following statement:
“We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation.
“We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university. USC is conducting an internal investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate.
“USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.”
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