The University of Southern California, Yale and the University of California Los Angeles (and other institutions) are facing class action lawsuits filed by two Stanford University students alleging that the schools engaged in massive admissions cheating by allowing wealthy parents to pay bribes in order to gain a spot for their children at some of California’s top schools.
The federal complaint was filed by Erica Olsen, from Henderson, Nevada, and Kalea Woods, from San Diego, California. The two students claim that they were denied a fair opportunity to be admitted to their top college choices and that their Stanford degrees were devalued due to criminal racketeering charges that were leveled by federal prosecutors.
Olsen claims that she applied with standardized test scores she described as “stellar” as well as athletic talent, but her application was denied by Yale. Olsen claims that if she had been aware that Yale’s admissions system was corrupted by fraudulent practices, she would not have wasted the approximate $85 on the application fee. Since she did pay the required application fee, she feels it is her right to complain that she did not receive a fair admissions consideration process; which is what she paid for.
Woods stated in the complaint that she was both exceptional student and a talented athlete, but that she was unaware that the University of Southern California admissions process was unfair and rigged; allowing parents to buy their kids’ way into the university with bribery and dishonesty.
Woods also claims that her Stanford degree is worth less than it should have been as prospective employers now question whether or not she was admitted to the university on her own merit or if she simply had rich parents who purchased her admission.
It is questionable whether or not the students will be able to successfully demonstrate that their Stanford degrees have been devalued due to the recent scandal. Experts suspect it may be less difficult to argue alleged fraud as a result of the lost application fee money, but there is still the question of whether or not people would have applied anyway. If anything, the lawsuit’s discovery process will most likely make it clear that the universities were aware of fraudulent activity in their admissions processes and this information would be beneficial.
Defendants named in the suit include UCLA, USC, the University of San Diego, Stanford, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, Georgetown, and Yale. The class action seeks certification to include any person who applied to these schools between 2012 and 2018. The class action seeks a return of admission and application fees and unspecified damages to punish defendants and prevent similar conduct in future. The scandal that created the stir involved proctors changing test results, fabricating credentials, and in some cases even doctoring images in order to make non-athletic students appear athletic.
If you have questions about how to file a class action law suit or if you need to discuss how to seek certification, please get in touch with one of the experienced class action and employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.