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Old 03-14-2019, 10:26 AM
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I'm OK with wealthy people donating lots of money to get their kids into a university


Am I the only one?

If 10 families want to donate tons of cash so that their little idiots can get in, I am totally OK with that.

That will be a significant chunk of that universities budget. It makes the university better and cheaper for everyone else. The only thing we have to "suffer" is that 10 idiots got in. I am willing to make that trade.

Is it "fair" that the idiots got in? No, but I am baffled how some people would prefer to hurt a larger group just to make things "fair."


Note: this is not about the more recent cheating scandal. That is horrible (but not shocking). It just made me think of this issue.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:40 AM
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Congratulations, and welcome to the development committee of [insert name of prestigious university here]!
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:45 AM
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I have a feeling that money illegally gained goes into pockets, not budgets.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:47 AM
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Am I the only one?

If 10 families want to donate tons of cash so that their little idiots can get in, I am totally OK with that.
It seems to me this is just as fair as admitting "10 little idiots" so you can have a better football team and thereby induce alums to give money.
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Old 03-14-2019, 10:49 AM
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I have a feeling that money illegally gained goes into pockets, not budgets.
I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:04 AM
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I have a feeling that money illegally gained goes into pockets, not budgets.
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I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.

I'll go further and say I could live with both. I and pretty sure that went on in a few cases back when I was at Pitt, I am sure it went on in earlier days, and I have no real qualms against it happening now. With one small caveat; it doesn't buy out-right grades and diplomas; which I am sure it does do. So Daddy is a Filthy Rich Dude, or Junior is a Football Star; big deal. Even with a diploma and great grades odds are they will still end up selling use cars by the time they are 50. I just feel it cheapens my earned grades and certificates a little. Let them buy their way in through cash or the cash donations they will generate; put the effort on making it more a case of reality after that.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:07 AM
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I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.
If I understand your philosophical stance correctly, you are fine with "pay to play" schemes in general. In other words, when the former and now incarcerated governor of Illinois was trying to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder instead of going through a fair selection process, you are fine with that, too. If so, I think you are very misguided.

Last edited by Jasmine; 03-14-2019 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:09 AM
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I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.

Is anyone not OK with it?



The current scandal seems to revolve around people who didn't have enough money to donate to get their names on buildings, but did have enough money to pay a middleman to bribe water polo and crew coaches to put non-players through an easier preferred-player admission process.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:12 AM
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Am I the only one?

{snip}

Is it "fair" that the idiots got in? No, but I am baffled how some people would prefer to hurt a larger group just to make things "fair."
I'm not losing sleep over this either.

What gets on my nerves is when people extol the importance of merit when decrying Affirmative Action, but are oddly silent when it comes to all the workarounds the wealthy exploit to get into competitive college. This is how you get anti-intellectual types like Trump or Kushner who are never expected to prove they rightfully got into their esteemed alma maters, while brilliant Obama or Sotomayer types constantly have to deal with the accusation that they took seats from someone more deserving.

It's crazy, our society.

Last edited by you with the face; 03-14-2019 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:12 AM
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I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.
That kind of thing takes a LOT more money than the numbers we're seeing in this scandal. Plus, this involved deliberate fraud like photoshopping faces to steal a scholarship spot in a sport students didn't play.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:13 AM
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I am talking about legal donations. The ones that get peoples names on buildings and such.

OK, but that's not the nature of the current "scandal" unfolding, which is about a widespread cottage industry dedicated to getting kids into competitive universities by falsifying credentials. The schools in question are the targets, not the beneficiaries, of the deception, and are not profiting in any way.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:19 AM
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I'm not losing sleep over this either.

What gets on my nerves is when people extol the importance of merit when decrying Affirmative Action, but are oddly silent when it comes to all the workarounds the wealthy exploit to get into competitive college. This is how you get anti-intellectual types like Trump or Kushner who are never expected to prove they rightfully got into their esteemed alma maters, while Obama or Sotomayer types constantly have to deal with the accusation that they took seats from someone more deserving.

It's crazy, our society.
Yes! This current scandal made me instantly think of last year's dust-up where a young man got accepted to 20 schools and a news anchor said it was "obnoxious" that he put so many other students "on a waitlist". That was a bunch of bullshit.

I would hope that people find this case to be doubly obnoxious.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:19 AM
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Honestly, the whole system is so riddled with corruption and inequality and just general weirdness that I can't get too het up over development cases.

One thing that is frustrating is that when it's hard for a Typical White/Asian kid to get into a highly selective school, the blame is put on under-represented minorities, specifically African Americans. The reality is, the number of slots eaten up by
  1. Development cases (large donations)
  2. Feeder Schools (elite private schools have centuries-old relationships with the highly selective schools)
  3. Recruited Athletes (which are generally rich--think crew and lacrosse, not football)
  4. Legacies
  5. Personal Favors/connections/fame

far dwarfs the numbers of slots "eaten up" by African American applicants--and it's mostly wealthy white kids aided by those pathways. But no one gets angry about that.

So while it may not seem like a few people donating tens of millions of dollars is going to skew things much, I will tell you that the all the pathways of the rich added together is a large part of the reason why a normal white or Asian kid with test scores in the top 1% of the country, perfect grades, and meaningful accomplishments (let's say, state-ranked in something) is more likely than not to get rejected at most top schools.

ETA: Ninja'd by you with the face, but hopefully this is more more detail.

Last edited by Manda JO; 03-14-2019 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:22 AM
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Is anyone not OK with it?



The current scandal seems to revolve around people who didn't have enough money to donate to get their names on buildings, but did have enough money to pay a middleman to bribe water polo and crew coaches to put non-players through an easier preferred-player admission process.
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Originally Posted by garygnu View Post
That kind of thing takes a LOT more money than the numbers we're seeing in this scandal. Plus, this involved deliberate fraud like photoshopping faces to steal a scholarship spot in a sport students didn't play.
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OK, but that's not the nature of the current "scandal" unfolding, which is about a widespread cottage industry dedicated to getting kids into competitive universities by falsifying credentials. The schools in question are the targets, not the beneficiaries, of the deception, and are not profiting in any way.
Does anyone read the OP?

I am NOT talking about the recent cheating scandal.

I frequently hear people complaining of how awful it is that Mr. Smith gave $20 million dollars to a university, got his name on a building and magically his son gets accepted.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:24 AM
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Is anyone not OK with it?
I am.

You want to fund the $10M Wevets Center for Epistemology Studies, just because you think it's a field of study that needs a center, fine. But if you expect your children get in (and graduate!) only because you gave the school $10M, that's wrong (to me).

I think the schools should be upset. Whatever institute for "higher learning" trump went to, it's obviously he didn't learn anything in the curriculum. So if some average Joe applies to my company, and I see he went to the same school, am I wrong in assuming he has the same skill sets as trump? I obviously can't trust his transcripts to be an accurate indication of his learning. Why should I hire him?

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Old 03-14-2019, 11:24 AM
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If I understand your philosophical stance correctly, you are fine with "pay to play" schemes in general. In other words, when the former and now incarcerated governor of Illinois was trying to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder instead of going through a fair selection process, you are fine with that, too. If so, I think you are very misguided.
I am ok with "Pay to play" systems that provide benefits for everyone and practically no downsides besides offending people's sanctimonious sense of "fairness."

So, no I would say enriching politicians so other politicians can have power doesn't qualify.

Last edited by Hermitian; 03-14-2019 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:26 AM
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The rich are going to get a better deal in life, there's no question about that, that's the way it should be. The problem is that better deal has turned out to be rigging the system to keep making the rich richer. The donation system of getting a stupid rich kid into school isn't as big of a problem as the way so many do get rich.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:28 AM
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I am.

You want to fund the $10M Wevets Center for Epistemology Studies, just because you think it's a field of study that needs a center, fine. But if you expect your children get in (and graduate!) only because you gave the school $10M, that's wrong (to me).

I think the schools should be upset. Whatever institute for "higher learning" trump went to, it's obviously he didn't learn anything in the curriculum. So if some average Joe applies to my company, and I see he went to the same school, am I wrong in assuming he has the same skill sets as trump? I obviously can't trust his transcripts to be an accurate indication of his learning. Why should I hire him?
We are talking about schools that are, by and large, older than the United States, and have been prestigious the whole time. They have a LOT of institutional capital-- and having the spawn of incredibly rich and powerful people choose YOU carries it's own benefit to your reputation. Everyone who matters in this world knows about development admits, and no one is holding it against the school.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:34 AM
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Does anyone read the OP?

I am NOT talking about the recent cheating scandal.

I mean, it's a little like walking into a Thai restaurant and saying "I am in favor of people paying an extra $4 to have crab instead of tofu on the pad thai" - it's not particularly controversial. Everyone's going to think you're talking about the current admissions scandal anyway.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:35 AM
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Why bother having them go to school at all? Just hand over the cash, and get a diploma in return.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:38 AM
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I am ok with "Pay to play" systems that provide benefits for everyone and practically no downsides besides offending people's sanctimonious sense of "fairness."

So, no I would say enriching politicians so other politicians can have power doesn't qualify.
One downside is that for certain professions, elite schools are increasingly becoming an exclusive pathway. It is mattering more and more, not less and less. This is not true across the board, but it's true in politics (not just for elected officials), business, finance, and, increasingly, in tech.

Given that, these schools are a sort of bottle-neck to having people participate in those fields--and those are the fields that shape society for all of us. If these schools are largely unavailable for the most talented and hard working student who come from the poor, the middle, and even the professional classes, that's undemocratic. It's damaging overtime because our literal corporate and political overlords will be drawn nearly exclusively from a single class.

This is not to say that an individual has to go to HYPMS (Harvard Yale Princeton MIT Stanford) to be successful--there's lots and lots of paths to success. And certainly not everyone at those schools comes from the elite. But it's a force that is perpetuating keeping the same families in the most powerful positions in America for generations.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:39 AM
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Lets say Mr. Smith loves to think about the Glory Days when he used to get drunk and pass out on the lawn of State U.

Mr. Smith has done VERY well for himself, his son is 16, and he is thinking about making a very large donation to State U. He knows his son is mostly worthless, but he wants him to experience the glory of State U, just like he did so many years ago.

You have a daughter that is 17, she is bright and is going to State U to major in microbiology.

Let's propose two scenarios:

1. State U declines Mr. Smith's donation due to the fact that they would have to accept Smith Jr. The microbiology dept continues to share a bare-bones building with the Math department. You pay $6,000 a semester for your daughter to go there.

2. State U accepts Mr. Smith's donation. This is the extra cash they needed to build a new microbiology building (which bears his name, Smith Hall). They are able to hire better microbiology faculty since the new facility is a draw for next level professors. You only have to pay $5,500 a semester. Your daughter's education definitely took a step up. On the flip side, Smith Jr is accepted to the university despite his lackluster grades and drive. He is majoring in business and is following is his father's collegiate footsteps (mostly drunk). He graduates with a 1.8 GPA and goes on to run his father's business.

Which do you prefer? I prefer #2 for my daughter.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:41 AM
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The reality is that many of these dream schools are that way directly because of the mega donors. A school with a multi-billion dollar endowment and the amenities that go along with it didn't get that way from the student's tuition payments alone. Although it feels unfair that the rich have preferential access, the reality is that the middle-class kid wouldn't find the school so desirable if the rich weren't putting so much money into that system.

For example, a state school might have a primary campus and several satellite campuses. They all provide similar educational opportunities, but students are clamoring to get into the primary campus because of the nicer facilities, premier sports, alumni network, etc. Getting into the primary campus is very difficult, but the satellite schools are often seeking more applications. But the whole reason the primary campus is so nice is because donors are giving millions of dollars for the benefit that high donation brings. If the advantage of donating is taken away, the donations will go way down and that campus will lose much of what makes it so desirable.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:43 AM
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The problem is that when the price of admission and graduation gets too cheap then the value of a diploma goes down. The diploma is to certify that you were smart enough to get in and conscientious enough to graduate. When too many people buy their way to the diploma then the value of it goes down for everyone. At least with Affirmative Action you can look and see who didn't deserve their diploma and do the proper discounting. I don't think it should be done for less than $2 million otherwise it would be too common and hurt the rest of the alumni.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:47 AM
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I'm OK with it in general principles, but too often it's donated to a school that doesn't need the money because it has a big enough endowment anyway. Universities should pool their donations like waitresses pooling tips...
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:54 AM
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The problem is that when the price of admission and graduation gets too cheap then the value of a diploma goes down. The diploma is to certify that you were smart enough to get in and conscientious enough to graduate. When too many people buy their way to the diploma then the value of it goes down for everyone. At least with Affirmative Action you can look and see who didn't deserve their diploma and do the proper discounting. I don't think it should be done for less than $2 million otherwise it would be too common and hurt the rest of the alumni.
Did you just say that? If you see a black person with a diploma from an exclusive school, you "discount them"? And you can tell by looking?

I cannot begin to tell you how ridiculous this is. I cannot begin to tell you how many highly qualified black students I have sent to elite colleges--all of them with test records that put them in the top 1% of students in the country. I can't even.

And, as I just said in great detail, elite colleges take under-qualified rich white kids all the time. Because they went to the right feeder. Because they play water-polo at a very high level. Because their great grandparents went to the school. ALL of those things carry more weight with the admissions committee than race. All of those things are not "visible" when you meet someone. And all together, those ways add up to way more than the 8% or so of slots taken up by African Americans.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:55 AM
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I am.

You want to fund the $10M Wevets Center for Epistemology Studies, just because you think it's a field of study that needs a center, fine. But if you expect your children get in (and graduate!) only because you gave the school $10M, that's wrong (to me).
I can see where you're coming from, although I don't agree - the number of students who get into college this way is vanishingly small, except perhaps among the high-prestige Ivies.

Quote:
I think the schools should be upset.
The university I work at is currently fundraising to try to build a new science center. $100 million is what they're reaching for. It's very hard to get there. There's no way they'll be upset at the kind of donations we're talking about.
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:56 AM
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The problem is that when the price of admission and graduation gets too cheap then the value of a diploma goes down. The diploma is to certify that you were smart enough to get in and conscientious enough to graduate. When too many people buy their way to the diploma then the value of it goes down for everyone. At least with Affirmative Action you can look and see who didn't deserve their diploma and do the proper discounting. I don't think it should be done for less than $2 million otherwise it would be too common and hurt the rest of the alumni.
I question how rich white kids get into school. Everyone else probably had to work hard.

Last edited by TriPolar; 03-14-2019 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:01 PM
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I am ok with "Pay to play" systems that provide benefits for everyone and practically no downsides besides offending people's sanctimonious sense of "fairness."
So, "Fred" is from a modest middle class family, so he has worked hard throughout his public school career to maintain almost a perfect grade point average. He has done everything possible to qualify for the outstanding universe of his dreams. Unfortunately for Fred, someone with a million dollars just bought his spot in the freshman class, and now Fred is on the outside looking in.

So, does that qualify as "a sanctimonious sense of fairness", or does it qualify as a gross injustice?
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:03 PM
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At least with Affirmative Action you can look and see who didn't deserve their diploma and do the proper discounting.
Wowwwwwwww.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:04 PM
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I'm OK with it in general principles, but too often it's donated to a school that doesn't need the money because it has a big enough endowment anyway.
That is true. You could give $50 million to Harvard, Yale or Stanford (the wealthiest private schools) and barely make a difference to the endowment amount.

Plus the cost of attendance at the elite schools is so high that, if the money is used for scholarships, it's not covering the cost for many students. On the other hand, you could put the $50 million towards scholarships at a public university (even a community college) and help out a much greater number of students.

I met someone once who had worked at an elite school, and she pointed out that the donors want to put their names on shiny new buildings, usually ones designed by starchitects. Meanwhile the campus is littered with older buildings that are still functional but boring, and still need upkeep. No one is volunteering to pay for a new roof for the nineteenth century gym. She said that many of these buildings wind up being filled with back office staff.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:06 PM
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Cripes on a Cracker! These people are willing to pay a million bucks! Let 'em in the damn classes. Give them a folding chair to carry with them. Hell, just print them up a damn diploma. Give them a degree in Music Appreciation. It's not like they are going on Medical School or anything.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:27 PM
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Let's propose two scenarios:

1. State U declines Mr. Smith's donation due to the fact that they would have to accept Smith Jr. The microbiology dept continues to share a bare-bones building with the Math department. You pay $6,000 a semester for your daughter to go there.

2. State U accepts Mr. Smith's donation. This is the extra cash they needed to build a new microbiology building (which bears his name, Smith Hall). They are able to hire better microbiology faculty since the new facility is a draw for next level professors. You only have to pay $5,500 a semester. Your daughter's education definitely took a step up. On the flip side, Smith Jr is accepted to the university despite his lackluster grades and drive. He is majoring in business and is following is his father's collegiate footsteps (mostly drunk). He graduates with a 1.8 GPA and goes on to run his father's business.

Which do you prefer? I prefer #2 for my daughter.
You've specifically created a scenario to fit your point of view. The only two option are your daughter failing because the guy doesn't get it, nor succeeding because he does. You're ultimately just begging the question.

You ignore the immediate possibility that your daughter is one of those who doesn't make it to the college because one of the rich guys got in. You assume no long term consequences of letting these people in. You assume no consequences of putting stupid people into positions of power. You ignore the idea of money corrupting everything.

I mean, you do realize your #2 is why Donald Trump is president, right? Trump didn't earn anything he has. Is your daughter really better off under him? This is exactly what happens when we let money, no merit, decide what power people get.

I don't approve of money buying people into false education credentials. No rationalization will make this ultimately better for society.

I genuinely believe in "all men are created equal" and should be given equal opportunity. I genuinely believe that most if not all of the problems in this world are caused by people making excuses to not have equality.

The pillars of morality are harm reduction and fairness. You are only considering the short term effects of 1, and ignore the other. What disheartens me is how few people care.

Last edited by BigT; 03-14-2019 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:30 PM
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Many of the top-paying employers for new graduates exclusively recruit from elite universities.
So rich families can entrench their advantage, generation after generation.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:37 PM
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So, "Fred" is from a modest middle class family, so he has worked hard throughout his public school career to maintain almost a perfect grade point average. He has done everything possible to qualify for the outstanding universe of his dreams. Unfortunately for Fred, someone with a million dollars just bought his spot in the freshman class, and now Fred is on the outside looking in.

So, does that qualify as "a sanctimonious sense of fairness", or does it qualify as a gross injustice?
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You ignore the immediate possibility that your daughter is one of those who doesn't make it to the college because one of the rich guys got in. You assume no long term consequences of letting these people in. You assume no consequences of putting stupid people into positions of power. You ignore the idea of money corrupting everything.
But with larger (better) facilities, more faculty, and more money, there is no reason that the University can't let in 10 more people. The University letting in one person for millions of dollars is not a zero sum game.

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I mean, you do realize your #2 is why Donald Trump is president, right? Trump didn't earn anything he has. Is your daughter really better off under him? This is exactly what happens when we let money, no merit, decide what power people get.
Trump did not get to be president because of this. Do you really think that anyone voted for him because of his degree from some university?
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:40 PM
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Which they have been doing since we had universities. This case is only different because it involves cash payments to coaches and photoshop, rather than time-honored political pressure and toadying.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:49 PM
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I don't have a problem with someone donating a pile of money to a school and getting their name on a building, and then their kid getting accepted to the school. At least many future students and staff there will benefit, and the kid took up only one spot.

I agree this is not the same thing as the current scandal where shysters and fixers benefited financially and the school only got a half-interested, spoiled brat as a student.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:52 PM
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I don't have a problem with someone donating a pile of money to a school and getting their name on a building, and then their kid getting accepted to the school.
The problem with this sort of thing is the "donation" is supposed to be a gift. If it's openly a quid pro quo, it should no longer be tax-deductible.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:54 PM
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Do you think that such an act would just get the kid accepted at the school? There will be pressure throughout her/his stay to go easy on the kid because of that donation and the possibility of future donations.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 03-14-2019 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:06 PM
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Do you think that such an act would just get the kid accepted at the school? There will be pressure throughout her/his stay to go easy on the kid because of that donation and the possibility of future donations.
I am sure that is possible and probably happens. But, how would you police that? I would gather schools don't have the time or resources available to determine if a donor kid is getting treated softly, academically.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:07 PM
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If it's a private school that doesn't use public money at all then they can accept whoever they want for any reason, and graduate whoever they want for any reason. On the other hand a school that does that shouldn't receive any respectable accreditation and certainly shouldn't be considered prestigious.

However, the current scandal is not about the practices of the schools. Employees at the schools were bribed as were employees of the testing companies. I'm sure the schools listed in this scandal so far are really pissed about this and hopefully all schools will be cracking down on admission requirements and looking closer at the students they accept.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:10 PM
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No private school "doesn't use public money at all". They benefit by not having to pay income taxes on their investments, by taking government student loan money for the students and by getting many millions in research grants and other government contracts.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:15 PM
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No private school "doesn't use public money at all". They benefit by not having to pay income taxes on their investments, by taking government student loan money for the students and by getting many millions in research grants and other government contracts.
Sure, but some could afford to give it up if they wanted to. You're missing the point, it shouldn't be outright illegal to have a school that accepts students only on a financial basis. But that school is not going to be consider prestigious in any way, it would be a blow to the reputation of an existing school. The schools involved in this scandal may look hard at their practices. I don't see how any of them listed need to accept students based on huge donations at all, and some of them I hope want to makes sure no one thinks that they do.

OTOH you bring up a good point. There's probably not any of the ones mentioned in the scandal that aren't taking public money somehow and that means we should have some better standards for schools that want that money.

Last edited by TriPolar; 03-14-2019 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:36 PM
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I wish posters would read (and then think about) Manda Jo's post.

There aren't "slots" that get filled by one student at the cost of another student. There isn't a 1-N ranking of all the applicants with line above which someone gets in and below which they don't. And there shouldn't be.

Schools undertake a complex, multi-dimensional task when they determine who to accept out of the applicants they get (and recruit). All the dimensions aren't equal (or orthogonal). In the end, they are seeking a class that improves the "health" of the university. That health is made up of a lot of different aspects, of which financial is just one.

Do students of rich parents have an advantage? Yes. Some of this is causation (money buys improved admission scoring) and some is correlation (parents that can afford large donations can also afford test prep, private tutors, subsidy of extracurriculars, etc.).

NPR has an interesting article on the advantage legacies have in the admission process. Some schools explicitly award points for being a legacy. Others don't. And the division isn't strictly by public/private. But is this because they are catering to donors or because they've found that children of alumni generally succeed more at their school than others?

In answer the Hermitan's question, if we formalized the practice of allowing donors of multi-million's of dollars to have their children admitted, regardless of other factors (which is not what good universities do), what percentage "slots" would be "taken away". I just don't think spending calories agonizing over the unfair inclusion of the children of the uber-rich in our universities is worth it when there are other unfair practices (like reliance on SAT scores) that affect a lot more "slots"

We should be talking about whether the dimensions used to do the complex assessment that affects hundred's of thousands of applicants are the right ones and whether they are weighted properly instead of parsing in great detail whether a handful of students can get in "unfairly".
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:37 PM
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But that school is not going to be consider prestigious in any way, it would be a blow to the reputation of an existing school. The schools involved in this scandal may look hard at their practices. I don't see how any of them listed need to accept students based on huge donations at all, and some of them I hope want to makes sure no one thinks that they do.

OTOH you bring up a good point. There's probably not any of the ones mentioned in the scandal that aren't taking public money somehow and that means we should have some better standards for schools that want that money.
But everyone knows that the big, prestigious schools DO accept students because of substantial donations. They are called "development cases". This has been true for longer than the United States has been a nation. But Harvard and Yale etc. remain prestigious.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:05 PM
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There aren't "slots" that get filled by one student at the cost of another student. There isn't a 1-N ranking of all the applicants with line above which someone gets in and below which they don't. And there shouldn't be.
Right. Schools will send out many more acceptance letters than they have space for at the school. They expect a certain percentage of students will not attend even though they are accepted. If many more accepted students attend than they estimated, then the school has to scramble for where they'll put everyone. Often dorm rooms will get an extra bed and a double room becomes a triple, for example. So the number of acceptance letters sent out is not a fixed, unchangeable number.

Just like students are trying to get into their dream schools, schools are trying to get their dream students. They will give acceptance letters to many of the star applicants knowing that only few will actually accept. Schools also know that students are applying to multiple schools. The school can't just send you the same number of acceptance letters as the number of available slots since there are guaranteed to be students who pick other schools.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:32 PM
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It bothers me some, maybe not as much as it ought to.

Here is a true story. I may have told it before on the Dope, please forgive.

When I was graduate chair of my dept in the 90s, the principle (= president) of McGill was the twin brother of the president of Princeton. Our brother had been hired explicitly to manage our deficits, which had did quite well. So one day, before a meeting called by him of the graduate chairs, I started chatting with him and said something like: "I'll bet that when you and your brother get together your problems running a university are entirely different." He agreed and then added: "In fact my brother tells me that they could abolish tuition and function entirely on the return on their endowments." "So why don't they?" I asked. "Oh they want to have wealthy people whose family can pay the Princeton tuition as alumni. They are the people who will keep the endowment going."

Should this attitude be frowned upon? I am not sure. There is a certain graduate of the Wharton School who almost certainly couldn't have gotten in (or out, for that matter) without donations from papa. And we are much the worse for that.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:04 PM
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The rich are going to get a better deal in life, there's no question about that, that's the way it should be. The problem is that better deal has turned out to be rigging the system to keep making the rich richer. The donation system of getting a stupid rich kid into school isn't as big of a problem as the way so many do get rich.
Why should it be that way??
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:18 PM
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Why should it be that way??
Because we have an incentive based system that promotes hard work and creativity. The incentive is money and if it doesn't make your life better than it's not much of an incentive.
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:24 PM
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Am I the only one?

If 10 families want to donate tons of cash so that their little idiots can get in, I am totally OK with that.

That will be a significant chunk of that universities budget. It makes the university better and cheaper for everyone else. The only thing we have to "suffer" is that 10 idiots got in. I am willing to make that trade.

Is it "fair" that the idiots got in? No, but I am baffled how some people would prefer to hurt a larger group just to make things "fair."


Note: this is not about the more recent cheating scandal. That is horrible (but not shocking). It just made me think of this issue.
I actually agree with you.

Singer has told investigators that he found a "side door" to get rich kids into schools. In development cases (aka the "back door") where someone donates multi millions to have a building built, there is NO guarantee that the school will accept their kid. They take a gamble, but in back door cases ALL students benefit from the donation, whether the rich kid gets accepted or not. They have a better science building, sports arena, library, etc for everyone to enjoy.

But in the current situation, neither the school, the campus, nor the students were benefiting at all. The only ones who benefit are the bribers who get their kids into the school for a price & those who accepted those bribes for their own personal gain.
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