Snarky comment in college admissions investigation has ASU supporters up in arms

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By Tyler Peckham

PHOENIX – News of a huge college admissions scandal broke Tuesday, but online conversation Wednesday in the Grand Canyon State was buzzing in defense of Arizona State University.

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have charged 50 people – including an Arizona developer – in a scheme to alter SAT and ACT scores or have their children fraudulently admitted to prestigious schools as student athletes, even if they had never played the sport. They also have released emails exchanged by suspects in the case.

Actress Lori Loughlin, who played Becky in the TV shows Full House and Fuller House, has been charged in the case. In an email between her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and a witness, Giannulli said: “We just met with (our older daughter’s) college counselor this am. I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to (our daughter) and getting her into a school other than ASU!” azcentral.com reports.

Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and co-host of The View, quickly took to social media to respond, “To Aunt Becky’s husband who talked s–t about ASU – The @McCainInstitute for International Leadership does incredible work w/ students in cooperation with ASU and I guarantee those students involved will go on to do great things in the world and didn’t have to lie to get there …”

Although ASU has “no comment on a glib, uninformed remark,” University President Michael Crow has tweeted, “ASU is doing everything we can to create a world-class teaching, learning and discovery environment for you. Sun Devils, if you have ideas for further innovations, get them to me and we will see what we can get going.”

According to the Phoenix New Times, Arizona State University began its infamous reputation as a party school after ranking first in Playboy magazine’s 2002 rating of the top 25 party schools in the nation. ASU has failed to make the top 10 since 2013 when it came in ninth, according to the New Times. Since then, Crow has turned the university around, as ASU is now known as “#1 in innovation” according to US News.

The social conversation in Arizona is also full of positive stories of proud alumni. Twitter user Yahaira Jacquez said, “@ASU jabs are so frustrating! That school gave me a shot and as a first-gen college student and daughter of immigrants with little means, that changed my life. Proud to have gone to a school that prioritizes quality AND inclusion.”

An Arizona developer has also been charged with involvement in the scam as one of 33 parents who paid a false nonprofit to admit his children into top universities. Robert Flaxman of Crown Realty & Development is facing charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, and CNN reports that Flaxman spent $250,000 to admit his son as a student athlete to the University of San Diego, and $75,000 to get his daughter a better score on her ACT in 2016. The parents spent $200,000 to $6.5 million in bribes for university admission.

Asked how the scandal affects her work, Erin Goodnow of Going Ivy, a college admissions consultation company in Scottsdale, said, “Some people view college admissions as a game, and when it’s viewed as a game, then there are ways to cheat. They are using the side door into these schools.”

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Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS. The daily news products are produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

5 Comments

  1. Hillsdale or Embry-Riddle only. If a school takes money from anything with the McCain name on it that’s a giant tell right there.

  2. All I know is that the ASU “Admission Process” is nothing but a giant scam. $75, just to see if you are compatible with ASU culture. And this was for their online courses. They wont send you any information on their ONLINE degrees until you pay them. This is one of their largest money makers.

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