Yale, Georgetown, USC, and other universities were hit by operation Varsity Blue, the largest college-cheating scandal in history. Mastermind Rick Singer funneled money to the universities in exchange for their admission of the children of the wealthy. However, when Singer called the admissions officer of Occidental College and asked Mr. Vince Cuseo to reconsider the rejection of an “academically challenged daughter of a wealthy family,” he hit a closed door in his side-door, back-door, basement infiltration approach to admissions. Singer said Occidental was “dumb” for having “too thick of a wall between admissions and fundraising departments.” Jennifer Levitz and Douglas Belkin, “L.A. College Rebuffed Admissions Scammer,” Wall Street Journal,, November 7, 2019, p. A1.
Singer was flummoxed because he referred to what he was proposing as a “win-win” for the young woman and her family and Occidental. But, Occidental had made the decision back in the 1980s that it would not admit the children of the wealthy because they were the children of the wealthy. Occidental went with upholding standards and a strategy of raising money for scholarships for minority students.
The campus does not have the trappings of the schools with legacy admits and the children of the wealthy, but the school seems to have a credo, lines it does not cross. One is not gaming the rejection rate. Occidental has not lowered its standards in order to increase the number of applications and appear to be more selective. Faculty members report discussions of those strategies but also a simple shut-down, “It’s not who we are.”
FYI — 43% of Harvard white students are athletes, legacy admits, or the children of donors or faculty. Parents, please let your children grown up to be Occidental students. Occidental — stay the course. To the Wall Street Journal, gratitude for showing us that there are those who do not rationalize, who have clear lines, and whose employees know those lines and live them.