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The college admission scam is also horrifying for its abuse of disability accommodations
A facilitator advised that a kid ‘be stupid’ so they’d have more time to take the ACT.
The internet cannot get enough off of college admission scam—mostly because it has picked at the open wound of systemic inequality.
“Operation Varsity Blues,” as it was code-named, uncovered a mass scheme involving CEOs, lawyers, and Hollywood stars who worked with university officials to help fast-track their children’s way into elite schools such as Yale University and Stanford University. In order to have their child’s admission guaranteed, some parents paid between $200,000 to $6.5 million.
The scam reveals the layers of institutional racism and classism that exists in the U.S. education system, and many were quick to point out how low-income students of color miss out on college, despite honest efforts, while kids with rich parents are able to have their future secured.
The disability community was also exploited in the scandal. William Rick Singer, who owned the Edge College & Career Network and worked as a “middleman” to facilitate bribes with parents, suggested to a parent that their daughter “be stupid” so she could get extended time on her ACT exam on the provision of a learning disability.
According to a transcript of their phone conversations, published by the Daily Beast, Singer said this acting “stupid” plan was “the home run of home runs.” When the parent said it felt “weird,” Singer pushed him on. But the parent wasn’t “worried about the moral issue,” he was more concerned about what would happen if his daughter got caught.
Learning disabilities are obviously no joke and they most definitely shouldn’t be a ruse for a privileged, rich kid to get into college. Twitter is upset:
— christina adams (@camelmilkinfo) March 13, 2019
What really burns me, though, is Huffman and Macy's abuse of the disability accommodations process. Using such accommodations as a backdoor to cheating your way into college poisons the well, and screws over honest kids—both with and without disabilities.
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) March 12, 2019
Of all the offensive things about this college scam, I am particularly disgusted that these parents cheated by falsely requesting accommodations intended for students with disabilities. So vile.
— Tessa Dare (@TessaDare) March 12, 2019
I was once a #disabled college applicant and now I'm a #fundraiser for disability #civilrights, including #education #access, at @DREDF. This combo of #ableism, financial privilege, and #transactional #philanthropy makes me angry on so many levels. 1st: This scam steals… https://t.co/IIrFjCqSZG
— Tales From the Crip (@IngridTischer) March 12, 2019
— The Leaving Year (@TheLeavingYear) March 12, 2019
As one person pointed out, working with disability accommodations can be already challenging for many. To make light of that is purely insulting.
Horrified at the college admissions scam indictments that were released today. Especially that invisible disabilities were faked for test accommodations. It’s already hard enough for people with them to convince others they’re legitimate. I fear this will just make things harder.
— Todd Davenport (@sunsopeningband) March 13, 2019
because her own daughter shares my diagnosis) i can’t imagine making it any harder for students with visible and invisible disabilities and yet these rich assholes absolutely just did
— Lauren (@lenofi) March 13, 2019
didn’t matter, they still ignored me. In college, it’s better but it’s still a struggle having people uphold your rights. Plus I’ve SEEN them let a popular girl use extra time just because while everyone else who has disabilities gets belittled.
— VΛTO (@Seizeyourbeauty) March 12, 2019
This is making me furious, as a mom of kids with several school accommodations not only are they cheating criminals they are discrediting my family and so many others
and btw I hate standardized testing
— Scandic Health (@scandichealth) March 13, 2019
And now there’s fear that going forward, it might negatively affect the people who actually need these accommodations the most.
My ass is never going back to school, but for the sake of my kids (who have a pretty strong chance to inherit ADD) and the millions out there not fitting in to an outdated education system, I hope shit like this doesn’t slow the process of change.
— non-brand affiliated sparkling water person (@lukempls) March 13, 2019
The most infuriating part of the college cheating scandal is the abuse of disability accommodations. Do you think this scandal will make it even harder for students with disabilities to get the testing accommodations they need? #DisabilityInclusion https://t.co/0g8mfPxCbD
— GlobalDisabilityIncl (@GlobalDisabilit) March 13, 2019
One of the worst parts of this college cheating scam is that students with legitimate disabilities will be punished with more barriers to accommodations, and more skepticism about their needs. (2nd worst part is media focus on just the moms…🙄)
— Alana DiMario (@AlanaDimario) March 12, 2019
As one user pointed out, it’s not the only negativity to hit the community this week, and abled people need to do better.
What I am saying is, this is a good time to check on your disabled friends.https://t.co/lP4bBORPnD
— liminal nest (@UntoNuggan) March 12, 2019
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque