THE SELLING OF HIGHER ED
The breaking news of a scheme to bribe unqualified students into elite colleges has been a natural subject for satirists. Initially the targets were CEOs and celebrities in a grossly illegal bribery scheme resulting in an FBI investigation and criminal charges. But this opened the way for a deluge of mockery aimed at the long-established tradition of special admissions to elite universities of the children of major donors, including Charles Kushner, who gave $2.5 million to Harvard before his son Jared was admitted.
The Onion, mocking the disproportionate role of athletics in university life, had the NCAA announcing an investigation into why it was not making millions out of the controversy. Andy Borowitz had Education Secretary Betsy Devos viewing the bribes and the test scores as “a really neat opportunity” for learning math. Late night host Trevor Noah mocked parents who paid bribes of up to 6.5 million:¨for that amount of money, just buy a smarter kid”; and proposed that coaches who had connived in schemes to admit students for team sports they had never played be compelled to field an entire team of such students. And a flood of cartoons depicted admissions officers and coaches as crooks and pigs.
Here’s my own indignant view:
Of all the many scandals that harass a college dean
Paying bribes to gain admission is especially obscene.
Universities are locations for an intellectual feast
So money shouldn’t influence admissions in the least.
It started out with legacies which all the studies show
Favor children of old graduates who give a lot of dough.
Then it spawned a crooked service of the most offensive sort
That offers college placements through some very minor sport.
For example, you declare (although truthful it is not)
That your child leads all the others as he steers your racing yacht.
Or despite the fact his written scores are well below the rest
At polo you have witnesses who’ll swear that he’s the best.
If sports are so important, then let’s try to make it fair
And talk of games for anyone who’s not a billionaire.
Computer games I’ll mention, to allow them would be cool,
And why not take account of scores in billiards or pool?
You’re thinking that’s ridiculous, but be that as it may
It isn’t more outlandish than the shambles of today
For the fact is this corruption is certain to encroach
When your highest paid official is by far the football coach.
We’re all created equal, that’s our fundamental creed
But those who have the money very quickly take the lead
The prep schools they’ve attended are elitist, if you please
And on college applications they don’t mind the rising fees.
On the other hand the multitudes who didn’t cheat or lie
Are angry at the charges that they feel they must deny.
And so they show the proof of how they paid this massive sum --
The college loans they’ll have to pay for many years to come.