NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Admissions coordinators at Stephen F Austin State University are reexamining the college’s admissions process following a massive college admissions scandal that ended in the arrests of at least 50 people, including Hollywood actresses and chief executive officers.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a letter to every university in the state of Texas, urging administrators to review their application policies and procedures, according to Associated Press. The request was made following the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the widespread college bribery scheme.
“I was surprised, but more disappointed,” said Erma Nieto Brecht, executive director of Enrollment Management at SFA. “I’ve been in the admissions profession for over 25 years. With my colleagues across the nation, it’s very disappointing because it brings up a level of trust. This level of scandal was definitely aimed at very elite colleges and universities. ”
In many cases, coaches were accused of taking bribes and others prominent parents accused of angling to get their children into top schools by portraying them as recruited athletes. Some parents spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children’s admission, officials said.
That celebrities were among the accused parents — actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman headline the list — created much buzz, but other parents charged included people prominent in law, finance, fashion, manufacturing and other fields — people who could afford the steep price.
“It really makes us have to be even more diligent about what we do about our processes. Not only the side of to the public, you know, encouraging, educating, being supporters of continuing their intentions and plans of education," said Brecht. “But internally and -- how we administer and being good stewards -- making sure we are addressing that.”
Some SFA students expressed similar disappointment, but said they were not surprised that the country’s elite used their wealth as a means to buy their children an advantage.
“It just seems like the rich and powerful tend to flaunt their money and use it to get the things that they want,” said student Ryan Hall. “I know some of the kids didn’t even know that it happened, so I do feel bad for them somewhat; but they’re also getting free education, so I don’t know.”
“I’m surprised, but I can understand it,” said Ginger Hogard. “Parents want to do what’s best for their kids; they want to put their kids into the best situation possible. So I can understands the parents’ motives, it’s just not fair to the rest of the kids, you know?”
In his letter to state universities, Governor Abbott directed the boards to examine and investigate its admissions policies and procedures to ensure that no university employee engages in fraudulent schemes.
"The Legislature has assigned important responsibilities to the governing boards of Texas’ institutions of higher education, including setting campus admissions standards,” the governor wrote. “Every board must therefore closely examine and investigate its admissions policies and procedures to ensure that no university employee engages in fraudulent schemes, quid pro quo arrangements, or improprieties of any sort. Our universities - first and foremost – exist to serve qualifying students who graduate Texas high schools. Those students, their parents and taxpayers must have confidence that the system is not rigged.”