Awaiting our arrival to Reynolda Campus from Spring Break was the college admissions bribery scandal that shook up every news media outlet, and most of upper-class America. Unearthed in the FBI operation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” Wake Forest University was named as one of the schools that was implicated in the scandal, along with Yale University, Georgetown University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Stanford University.
Federal prosecutors accused parents across the United States of bribery in the college admissions process. Parents utilized the middle-men of for-profit college counseling services to administer several forms of bribery to various universities. Federal prosecutors outlined two main forms of bribery in their investigation: by which wealthy parents would utilise counseling services to administer faulty standardized test results, along with bribery of college coaches to allow a student to be admitted into the athletic program – even if the student did not play said sport.
In the case of Wake Forest, volleyball Coach Bill Ferguson was put on administrative leave by the university for accepting a bribe of $100,000. This bribe was made with the intent to admit a student who was on the waiting list as a member of the volleyball team. The name of the student as well as the parents have not yet been disclosed.
Wake Forest has cooperated with the authorities fully in the investigation and in fact has asserted itself as a victim of this scandal. President Hatch responded to the matter in an email to students as well as faculty on March 18th. President Hatch stated that Wake would be fully committed to maintaining the admissions system that has rightfully made Wake so unique: “I commit that Wake Forest will continue to invest the talent and resources of many to ensure the integrity of our admissions process and our institutional expectations for ethical conduct.”
The university did not issue an empty statement. In the midst of controversy on campus, the university has taken positive steps to attempt to create a welcoming campus that is both fair and provides for equal opportunity. President Hatch in his statement took time to outline improvements around campus as well as a plan to respond to the bribery of Coach Ferguson.
Apropos of this improvement, President Hatch also noted in response to the continuing discourse regarding race around campus, the university has designated a lounge for the Black Student Alliance to meet on campus in Kitchin Hall.
The university will use $50,000 dollars from the Key Worldwide Foundation, a college counseling service implicated in the investigation, to the Magnolia Scholars program – focusing on aiding first-generation college students. President Hatch also ordered the Director of Athletics and the Dean of Admissions to focus on investigating the admissions process and assuring that it fair; with room for potential improvements.
Wake Forest prides itself on being an environment where the holistic individual comes before all else. It’s a school so unique in its application process that it allows for near unstifled creativity in a way that other schools can seldom compare. The university has taken this investigation seriously; simply because it’s a threat to the values that are so positively held by every member of the Wake Forest community. Ultimately, if anything, this is a wake up call to the campus community. It threatens the sanctity of an admissions process that is so special that it is ingrained in campus culture, and more importantly (and positively) it’s a reaffirmation of our values as a campus to protect the things special about Wake Forest.