Eliandro Ramirez Chang/Staff Writer
How did you get into FIU? Did you put in long hours at another university, then transfer here?
Are you carrying twenty pounds of textbooks and drinking bottomless cafecitos just to get to grad school or graduate?
Imagine if all you needed to get into another university was to mail in a couple stacks of fresh, green $100 bills along with that application. Let Benjamin speak on your behalf, he’s usually very persuasive.
But perhaps you don’t think it’s fair that some students have gotten into top universities through bribery. You would be right, it’s not fair, but this is exactly what has happened.
On Tuesday, March 12, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the indictment of parents, coaches and test-prep administrators who got underperforming students into top universities through bribery.
It’s not a surprising revelation, and it’s an issue that’s likely to continue unless the federal investigators crack down on these types of crimes. Not only is it unfair, it’s also incredibly disrespectful towards those students who spent long, sleepless nights trying to get into their university of choice.
Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud are federal charges. Most notably, “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to both of these charges on Monday, May 13, according to NPR. Huffman could face four months in prison and $20,000 in fines, though it is expected that she will actually serve significantly less and serve time in a halfway house.
According to Cornell Law School’s website, the maximum sentence for these federal charges are 30 years in prison. That makes Huffman’s sentencing look less like a slap on the wrist and more like a tap on the hand with a feather duster.
Regardless if you personally feel disrespected or not, getting accepted into any university through bribery is disrespectful. Some students juggle full-time jobs while being a full-time student, perpetually playing catch-up when trying to tackle their assignments. Others spend hours in tutoring or in study groups at the library trying to just work on one assignment and ending up leaving at 2:45 a.m. with work left over.
There are students who go nights without sleeping just to pass a test. Not only that, but a large number of students are only able to go to universities because of financial aid or scholarships.
Paying your way into a university is a slap in the face of any student who’s stressed out over a class or a test. Try telling a student who’s on their fifth cup of Vicky’s coffee trying to study for that one infuriating class that the scandal isn’t a big deal. Because if you really think the bribes stop at the application stage, you’re kidding yourself.
That is why the sentencing of these individuals must be strong. It doesn’t need to reach 30 years, but it must be hefty. Huffman’s “punishment” is unacceptable, and it’s an example that must be set by the courts. Strong sentencing creates strong deterrents which prevents would-be conspirators from cheating their way into a university.
Though, the best thing that could’ve come out of this whole mess is this: awareness. It is not just an assumption anymore, it’s a fact. If bribery is an epidemic, the first step in finding a cure is realizing that the disease is actually there.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.