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Stanford students file class action lawsuit in admissions scandal

Original post made on Mar 14, 2019

Two current Stanford University students have filed a class action lawsuit in response to a nationwide college admissions scandal that laid bare an application process they allege was "corrupted by rampant fraud and back-door bribery."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 14, 2019, 9:47 AM

Comments (45)

53 people like this
Posted by Alvin
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:01 am

This is such as stupid, baseless lawsuit. Do these young ladies really believe that this cheating scandal devalues their college degrees when it's been well known for decades that many kids who would otherwise be rejected gain admission by: having wealthy parents donate to the school in question, being a member of a minority group or, in some cases, a certain gender that benefits from affirmative action, being a star athlete, having legacy parents, etc. Does the lawsuit include complaints about these non-academic merit programs? It's possible that prospective employers might think these ladies got into college only because of their gender.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:32 am

Now I've heard -everything-

>> They were "negligent in failing to maintain adequate
>> protocols and security measures in place to guarantee
>> the sanctity of the college admissions process
^^^^^^^^^^^^
"Sanctity of the college admissions process" (!)

Back in day, it was a crapshoot. But, if you were enough of a student, you got in somewhere. Or, you could to work at Safeway and still get a living wage. Stanford, back then, advertised the "social" side of a Stanford undergraduate education. It wasn't the "backdoor" then, it was the frontdoor. As noted in these articles, the "backdoor" still exists, but, the frontdoor is presumed to be meritocratic. Hence the financial utility of the "sidedoor". I guess you could call this a form of "arbitrage"?

So, we have an -attempt- at Stanford, but, that somehow devalues a Stanford education? How are they going to calculate the drop in value due to a failed attempt? Stanford, USC, UCLA -- high-end private, and UCs. No CSUs that I've heard of. ;-) Somebody in the business school can probably calculate whether or not the expected return was worth the $25K or whatever.

The lawsuit does bring something to mind, though-- maybe all SATs above the 650/1300 mark seem to have actual market value, so, the College Board probably needs to develop a re-testing protocol with super-enhanced security for scores that can be marketed. At this point, who knows what the real, actual distribution of top scores is, since cheating is apparently fairly easy. The result of this is going to cost everybody for the enhanced security.


44 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:33 am

@Alvin, I disagree. Filing the lawsuit is just the start of a discovery process. Stanford is innocent until proven guilty. However it is worth investigating because it is hard to believe, without more transparency, that Singer is the only bad player in this game of cheating.

These students are courageous. They put their own future on the line. They should be commended for their bravery.

Cheating is different from legacy based admission.


35 people like this
Posted by An Attorney/LA
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:48 am

We do things bigger & better in Los Angeles when it comes to something like this.

Instead of a class action suit on the part of a few disgruntled Stanford students, we will be enlisting the countless number of applicants who were denied admission to these various universities & colleges.

Admission records and transcripts will be subpoenaed along with required testimony & depositions from all parties concerned & involved.

The financial reaping will be exorbitant as our firm will receive 1/3 of the eventual settlement. My paralegal is an aspiring movie script writer and this opportunity will also provide lucrative financial opportunities for novelists as well as writers of non-fiction.

An opportunity like this comes once (or twice) in a lifetime. get in on the 'gold rush' and cash in. It's legal!


8 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:11 am

Seems that some lawyers are looking to skin the biggest pig they can find with this situation--

Web Link

A $500 billion civil lawsuit filed by a parent on Wednesday in San Francisco accused 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose "rights to a fair chance at entrance to college" were stolen through their alleged conspiracy.

And yes, it's all legal! What a country!


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:15 am

Has anyone else noticed that the alleged parents involved are all white?

Could it be that regardless of the claims of "white privilege" there is in fact a truth that white people are at a disadvantage when it comes to college admissions? They appear to be the only ones that have to go the extra mile since there are no special treatment, particularly for while males.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:21 am

Posted by An Attorney/LA, a resident of another community

>> we will be enlisting the countless number of applicants who were denied admission to these various universities & colleges.

1) In case of Stanford, as far as you know, your "client" applicant wasn't denied admission, since, as far as you know, the number of spots stolen is -zero-.

2) Even at (your SoCal) USC, how do you know who was ahead of clients in line? Unless you can show that your client was #1 in line behind the last student who was accepted/attended, then, someone else would have taken your client's place anyway.

3) How do you know your client would have graduated and received the financial benefits of that USC degree? At many schools, the majority of the people near the bottom never graduate. How do you calculate the lost value of something like that?

Apropos these missed opportunities, this reminds me of "Cathy" in this movie: Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:31 am

Novelera is a registered user.

Hmmm. I, for one, think the comment by Attorney in LA was meant to be satire. I have dealt with many attorneys and law firms in my working life, and they aren't prone to say things about financial reaping being exorbitant.


26 people like this
Posted by Broken values.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

A group of ethically impaired parents cheated and encouraged their kids to cheat. They committed fraud and a form of child abuse. They should lose their jobs and go to jail. Their kids should be expelled. They can then apply to other colleges on their own true merits--hopefully, with some guidance from an assigned adult with a moral compass.

Whatever color one's skin is, healthy societies have rules and values that make them cohesive and functional. If these parents worked for me, I'd fire them. They are clearly incapable of good ethical behavior and good judgment. I would not want to be associated with them or to have my employees/company managed by them.

This is a very sad story on so many levels. I believe it does not reflect the behavior of most people (of any ethnicity). It will be interesting to see what repercussions these parents experience for their fraud. With all of their money, they are probably lawyering up.


1 person likes this
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

There are many people across the economic board who are cheats and many who work in the grey area of life. It has always been that it is who you know and not what you know that counts more when applying for admission into a prestigious university and jobs.


12 people like this
Posted by Annoyedbutnotsurprised
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:01 pm

@Resident (and @Alvin) Are you kidding, you are lumping this in with affirmative action? You don't see white males getting into 19 schools because they know they don't have to work very hard to get into college. POC have always known they need to work 2-3 times and hard and still have all the chips stacked against them. Now these privileged white wealthy families are finding their kids are no longer guaranteed admission to their school of choice - their wealth / legacy / whiteness plus the legal means of expensive tutors, biased standardized tests, fancy private schools or celebrity doesn't always work anymore, so they feel entitled to illegal means. And I have two white boys, I know they still have all the privileges.


26 people like this
Posted by Downtown parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:06 pm

The massive class action lawsuit should be filed not by those, who are in but by all those kids with the high GPAs and overall impressive profiles that were denied by these universities.
BTW, I see a connection between this scandal and that other story about a teenage Assistant Director of Stanford admissions "on a bad LSD trip".


6 people like this
Posted by Milliard
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:11 pm

I need to remind Alvin that most student-athletes are white students unlike what he probably sees on TV. Alvin go watch some games of: Lacrosse, Tennis, Rugby,Water-polo, Swimming, Golf, etc. The presumption that most student-athletes are members of a minority group is a canard
Students of minority class work their butts off while working and studying in order to have a shot at schools like Stanford and the likes. Remember the privileged will always get their ways and have used affirmative action since the dawn of America.
We need to have an honest discussion about how are we allowing the elite to continue getting their ways while the rest of us are left laboring to sustain their lavish lifestyle.


5 people like this
Posted by PA News Junkie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:24 pm

I think they were just trying to make a point. I doubt that they expect to win this lawsuit. It's terrible that people would participate in this scam, and also regrettable that they could get away with it. So the colleges have to up their game and be more vigilant.

Meanwhile, if you can see your way to passing along a couple million dollars to the general fund of the college of your choice, I'm pretty sure they will still look at your kid's application through rose-colored reading glasses.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford alum
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:25 pm

[Post removed.]


43 people like this
Posted by Milliard
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Do people believe what we are witnessing now about college admission fraud by the privileged as a rare occurence? Does anybody ever ask how did President Trump ever get to University of Pennsylvania? Or how did George W. Bush ever get to Yale (a C average student) and Harvard? Did President Trump write his SAT English essay? Really, I guess that I can write in Russian too.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I attended a lunch Friday, March 8 locally with Kirsten Gillibrand who was two years behind me in college although I don’t recall meeting her there. She is a US senator from New York running for president, one of about 20 such challengers My first observation, 30 minutes in, was that arguably she is as sharp as anyone who has held that office, 45 prior or current POTUS.
To me the take- away from the scandal is that since we are using tax dollars to build and try the cases we should be taxing the endowments of Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth.
I’m no lawyer, although I played one on TV*, but I would argue the investigation adds value to your college degree because it is a ritualistic purification.
But if no one else beats me to suing Dartmouth for $500 million I mean billion dollars what the heck Count me in. I’m mad at Dartmouth because a Dartmouth trustee with a hedge fund above Lytton plaza caused the temporary disruption of our fine buskers and street musicians there.
*Well, I mean are used to watch LA Law and Ally McBeal on TV in fact a very good friend of mine was in the cast of Ally McBeal although he was not a lawyer in the show he was a guy who hung out in a bar spending money that no one knows where he got it and probably cheated his way into USC or something. Sequel?


2 people like this
Posted by LA LAW Is Reality
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:48 pm

> Hmmm. I, for one, think the comment by Attorney in LA was meant to be satire. I have dealt with many attorneys and law firms in my working life, and they aren't prone to say things about financial reaping being exorbitant.

Why would they? Snakes don't talk publicly, but lawyers do behind closed doors or on internet forums.


9 people like this
Posted by LA LAW Is Reality
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:52 pm

> Has anyone else noticed that the alleged parents involved are all white?

Is this perhaps because talented athletes of color don't need to buy their way in?

They get athletic scholarships based on their actual talent although some colleges have been known to relax academic standards for acceptance in some cases.


6 people like this
Posted by CardAlum
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm

@m2grs:
>These students are courageous. They put their own future on the line. They should be commended for their bravery.

Are you serious? How are these students expressing bravery? What courage is required for two students already attending Stanford to file a lawsuit? Are they revealing some deep personal failing or vulnerability in order to make a broader point in the interest of social justice? Are they sacrificing their own hard earned current or future earnings (loans?) to pay the lawyers to file this lawsuit? (or is this their parents' money and/or filed by plaintiff's lawyers on a contingency basis)? Did these students say that they are forfeiting their now worthless Stanford degrees and forgoing college altogether in protest? There are plenty of people in the world taking meaningful steps to improve the world at great risk to their personal physical and mental well-being. Let's not cheapen the definition of the word "courage" by using it in so cavalier a fashion.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North

>> I attended a lunch Friday, March 8 locally with Kirsten Gillibrand who was two years behind me in college although I don’t recall meeting her there. She is a US senator from New York running for president, one of about 20 such challengers My first observation, 30 minutes in, was that arguably she is as sharp as anyone who has held that office, 45 prior or current POTUS.

Sharper even than John Quincy Adams, who appears to have been a supergenius? Web Link

Which suggests the question, if JQ Adams was so smart, so hardworking, so honest, and even so physically fit as documents suggest, why didn't he accomplish more? Short answer: he was on the losing side of the slavery question at the time, although when he returned to Congress he was very effective: Web Link

Kirsten Gillibrand has a ways to go to measure up to JQ Adams, but, who knows?

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”-- John Quincy Adams


9 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:59 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Milliard....have you ever asked how President Obama got admitted to Harvard? Or JFK to Harvard? Or Al Gore to Yale? Or John Kerry to Yale? Or Ted Kennedy to Harvard? I'm sure you've been just a little curious, haven't you?


10 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:08 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

@What Will They Do Next: Well, probably on merit, since they were very intelligent people who achieved a great deal after graduating from college [portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:24 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2019 at 4:27 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Stanford fraud
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Stanford is rampant with fraud. It is not surprising that they let students in with bribes never checking that they were never real athletes.

In another situation, Stanford has never checked on the qualifications and background of its adjunct professors. For example this course description here Web Link states in a course taught by Jennifer Hosterman below. She claims to be the current city manager of a city named Pleasanton California. She is not and has never been the city manager of a city named Pleasanton California.

"09/06/13--12:14: Local Government 101: A Workshop
Date: Saturday, September 28, 2013. 1:00 PM.
Location: History Corner (Building 200), Room 002

This fast-paced workshop will introduce you to the ins and outs of local government, presented by Jennifer Hosterman, former mayor and current city manager of Pleasanton. We will focus on the role of government in our communities, the budget process, where revenue comes from and how it is spent, and the role of direct, citizen-initiated, democracy. The workshop will be interactive, so be prepared to participate. Participants will be asked to read three staff reports and engage in a mock City Council meeting. The subjects covered will include: (1) licensing of marijuana dispensaries—should they be approved for location in your town? (2) Walmart is seeking approval to locate in your town—approve or deny? and (3) a very ugly dispute between two neighbors resulting from a city-approved window added to the second story of one home, intruding on the privacy of the other. This workshop is designed for those who plan to become involved in local politics as citizens and office-holders, and for those who are already active. Jennifer Hosterman City Manager, City of Pleasanton, California Jennifer Hosterman was elected Pleasanton’s mayor in 2004, and is the first woman in the city’s history to fill that office. She was re-elected in 2008. As mayor, Hosterman was recognized for having the second most sustainable city in the US (with populations under 100,000). She received a JD from the John F. Kennedy School of Law. Please visit the Continuing Studies page for reading matierals prior to workshop. "

It is no surprise that Stanford is in the middle of the Federal investigation into bribery and fraud in college admissions.


8 people like this
Posted by TAG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:25 pm

Huh. Colleges do in fact make millions every year on those application fees. Stanford charges nearly $50 and gets around 50,000 applicants. Do the math.

I find it very interesting that the two UC's named in the suit also happen to be the two that don't participate in the guaranteed transfer transfer program from community college. Such a suit could do some good if they were required to participate, i.e., become more available to students who are way, way less likely to be able to game the system like those in this scandal (and thus the schools would be way less likely to benefit from or be so susceptible to scandals like this).


8 people like this
Posted by TAG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:26 pm

Oops, I meant Stanford charges nearly $100, one of the highest application fees. LOL. Did my own math...


11 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:28 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

Challenge a liberal with a conservative viewpoint and your post is removed. What ever happened to freedom of speech ? Or is speech free only when it expresses a liberal point of view. Most readers are on to you. You are part of the mainstream liberal media. You just can't stand it when hypocrisy is challenged and can't be refuted.

I get it. We live in the most progressive liberal state in the country. Not everyone shares these views. Suppressing our opinions is anti-American.


18 people like this
Posted by Learn
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

What will they do next- learn your constitution. Free speech only applies to the government preventing you from speaking. The weekly is a private enterprise. They can delete anything they want


7 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:47 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Learn....And that's why we are where we are today.......opposing viewpoints are no longer respected. FYI...I am very aware of what the constitution mandates. [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2019 at 9:14 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Learn...the Weekly is liberally biased. Everyone knows that and I'm sure you do as well. They have every right to be that way. Liberals claim to be tolerant, yet they are tolerant only to those who agree with their point of view. The Weekly routinely removes posts from people with a conservative proclivity. This does nothing to promote civil discourse.


20 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2019 at 9:15 pm

@What Will They Do Next, there is difference between complaining about an unfair rule and breaking a rule.

Legacy admission, such as those allegedly applied to Clinton, JFK, Al Gore and his son, etc., is unfair to other hard-working kids. But still it has been a rule of the game. Many argue AA in college admission is unfair too.

There are many other unfair rules in the society, such as some drug policies, tax policies, etc. If enough people voice their concerns someday the rules may be improved because of the open discourse on the fairness of these rules. One can even protest or start a revolution.

But cheating is breaking the rule. Cheating will never lead to positive advancement on the fairness of the rules. It will only make the system more corrupt.


Like this comment
Posted by @What Will They Do Next
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:03 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by TAG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:01 am

"Challenge a liberal with a conservative viewpoint and your post is removed. "

I don't think that's true. I think you might consider whether you are being hypocritical about the tone or the factual accuracy of the viewpoint. "Alternative Facts" are falsehoods, they are not just another "viewpoint". The Weekly deletes factually inaccurate and unsupported offensive posts all the time, regardless of whether they are political or not. In my observation, "conservatives" on this list make more ad hominem attacks on other posters rather than soberly and politely discussing facts or ideas that might intrude on an almost cult-like insularity.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 2:21 am

[Post removed pending confirmation of stated facts.]


Like this comment
Posted by Old Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 6:06 am

[Post removed; off topic.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 10:16 am

It's not surprising to see a post that tilts the very left-of-center view of the world of the Weekly removed. The Weekly is not at all comfortable with verifiable facts. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:08 am

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> It's not surprising to see a post that tilts the very left-of-center view of the world of the Weekly removed. The Weekly is not at all comfortable with verifiable facts.

To refer to the Weekly as "very left-of-center" is bizarre. Very bizarre.

Posts that I have seen removed have been those that make unverifiable claims about particular local individuals-- anything that could be deemed "libel". The Weekly has every right to remove those posts. Even if the "verifiable" (but unverified) "facts" as you call them eventually turn out to be true, unless they are currently proven (as in, say, a court of law), it makes sense for those posts to be removed.

If you have an opinion, please state it as an opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by Competition
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 11:43 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Competition
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Anon,
"If you have an opinion, please state it as an opinion." Terms of use state: PaloAltoOnline.com provides an opportunity for community members to post opinions and other content directly onto the PaloAltoOnline.com Website.

Joe is correct, PA Online censorship is highly subjective and why I rarely read it anymore.


6 people like this
Posted by Lt.Col Beck (ret.)
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:33 pm

The cheating children of these cheating parents need more discipline.

Mandatory 2-year military service would add to their development as adults.




Like this comment
Posted by Which UCs?
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Which UCs? is a registered user.

@TAG, which UCs do you mean? I saw only UCLA listed in the suit unless I missed something. How do you know UCLA doesn’t participate in the TAG program? I have met people who transferred there from CC.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Posted by Which UCs?, a resident of College Terrace

>> @TAG, which UCs do you mean? I saw only UCLA listed in the suit unless I missed something.

Odds are UC San Diego (slightly north - La Jolla) was mixed up with University of San Diego, which was mentioned in the article about the lawsuit. University of San Diego is a private Catholic school, like University of San Francisco, and University of {quite a few others}. USD has a rather scenic campus on a ridge/mesa just north of Mission Valley just north of downtown-- in contrast to San Diego State, which is on a mesa further east of downtown, and UCSD, which is near the coast on the north side of town.


4 people like this
Posted by TAG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

Thank you Anon, yes.

@Which UCs
The program that guarantees admission by transfer from community college does not include UCLA (and UCSD - again, misread that). This does not mean UCLA doesn't accept transfers, every year a significant percentage of their student body are transfers, they just don't participate in the guaranteed transfer program. There are private CA schools that participate now too, btw.


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