Stanford Students Sue In College Admissions Scandal

Two Stanford University students say in a federal lawsuit that the massive college admissions scam prosecutors unveiled this week cheapens the value of their education and may prompt future employers to wonder if they have “rich parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

Erica Olson and Kalea Woods contend in the lawsuit filed in California’s Northern District on Wednesday that they followed the rules with their college applications and were “never informed that the process of admission was an unfair, rigged process, in which rich parents could buy their way into the university through bribery.”

The suit, which names Stanford, Yale, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest and other elite schools that figured in this week’s federal indictment, seeks class-action certification and demands the return of application fees, along with unspecified punitive damages.

A Stanford degree, both students allege, is “now not worth as much as it was before, because prospective employers may now question whether she was admitted to the university on her own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.” 

Federal prosecutors charged 50 people on Tuesday in a scheme to buy freshman spots at Yale, Stanford and other big-name schools. Parents accused in the scam, including Wall Street titans and Hollywood celebrities, allegedly paid thousands to rig their childrens’ test scores or bribe coaches to attest to faked athletic prowess.

Olson argues in the complaint that she wanted to go to Yale and had “stellar” standardized test scores and athletic talent. She paid an $80 application fee and was rejected, and says the admissions scam shows she “did not receive what she paid for — a fair admissions consideration process.”

Woods says she wanted to attend USC, and “was never informed that the process of admission at USC was an unfair, rigged process, in which parents could buy their way into the university through bribery and dishonest schemes.”

The lawsuit also names UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas and Georgetown University as defendants. In addition, it names William Singer, founder of a college preparatory business who is a central figure in Tuesday’s indictment.

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