On Tuesday, California State Auditor Elaine Howle announced that dozens of students were found to have been granted admittance to four University of California schools by using personal, family, university staff, or donor connections between 2013 and 2019.
At least 64 students accepted by UC universities were underqualified
The audit of UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara found that at least 64 uncompetitive applicants had deprived more highly qualified students of admittance. The current figures also don’t take into account other UC students previously found to have entered college through similar means during last years Varsity Blues operation. The operation last year forced UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo to resign last year, rocked many other non UC universities in California, and jailed many wealthy parents who gave bribes to college officials, including actress Lori Loughlin.
“By admitting 64 noncompetitive applicants, the university undermined the fairness and integrity of its admissions process and deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission,” said Howle in a statement. “The university has also failed to ensure that campuses fairly and consistently treat the thousands of prospective students who apply each year.”
“In some cases, the campus appeared to admit the applicants in exchange for donations to the athletic department. We found that staff were sometimes overly strict or overly lenient in their review of applications, thereby making the applicants’ chances of admission unduly dependent on the individual staff who rated them rather than on the students’ qualifications.”
“In fact, some of these applicants received the lowest possible scores on their applications.”
55 of the 64 students found in the audit had been admitted to UC Berkeley, with 42 directly linked to staff and donors. The report itself found that many of these students had not played many sports they had been admitted for for several years. In one case at UC Berkeley, a coach helped an applicant get in through the team despite the applicant only playing one year of the sport and then not playing at the University.
“Berkeley managed to avoid the federal operation, known as Varsity Blues,” Monique, a former college admittance officer, told the Globe. “They didn’t beat the state audit though.”
“This sort of thing does happen at every college, and it’s only really coming to light now. Some students I remember, their admittance essay was really just ‘I am related to this donor’ worked in over and over again, and you can read between the lines what happened.”
“Like I said with Varsity Blues, this is just the tip of the iceberg and we’re finding only the most blatant cases right now. Some more time digging, like other federal operations are doing, and there’s going to be a lot more found. It may not cover ‘legacy’ students, but it will bring out those who didn’t get in on merit at least.”
UC leaders vow to correct admissions process, root out underqualified student admittance
University of California President Michael Drake responded almost immediately after the audit was released, stressing that the University will address the problems found by the auditor and “safeguard the integrity of its admissions practices.”
UC Berkeley officials also announced in a statement that they would fix their admissions process.
“Today the California State Auditor released a report that contains numerous highly disturbing allegations of improper conduct in our undergraduate admissions work,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “These allegations, if true, are unacceptable, especially in our community where excellence, fairness and equity are our core values.”
“We are committed to getting to the bottom of this. At this point, however, we are waiting to receive the underlying documents that led to the state auditor’s findings, as these allegations will be investigated by the university.”
Corrective measures at the universities, as well as statements from those specifically named for allowing the practices, including former UC president Janet Napolitano, are expected in the coming weeks.
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