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ASCH: In investigating the admissions scandal, we have a crisis of leadership

Students must demand that Student Council follow through in their investigation of admissions scandal

<p>Sarah Kenny must strive to make the University an exemplar of equality of opportunity when it comes to admissions.</p>

Sarah Kenny must strive to make the University an exemplar of equality of opportunity when it comes to admissions.

Towards the end of the previous academic year, the University community was roiled by an admissions scandal, during which it was revealed the University allegedly created a heads up-list for certain applicants. At the time, many were outraged by the special treatment that these applicants were receiving and Student Council immediately launched an investigation into these practices. Unfortunately, this investigation and subsequent report yielded little information, as University officials largely avoided answering tough questions about their admissions practices. Despite the glaring inadequacies of the investigation, there was no agreement amongst the members of Student Council about how they should proceed. Now, it seems as though this scandal has fallen out of the University’s collective consciousness, but that does not excuse the lack of meaningful progress on this issue by Student Council. In order to achieve progress, we have to understand that this still is a serious problem, and not allow it to be forgotten after only half-hearted investigations.

The biggest reason why we cannot let this scandal go is because the single investigation by Student Council Representative Ian Ware, has yielded little new information. This was primarily due to his inability to meet with key administrators involved in the scandal. Also, at the end of the report, the leadership of Student Council wrote a disclaimer saying that it did not reflect the views of Student Council, only the views of Ware, which makes the issuing of such a report seem pointless. Instead of answering questions about the conduct of the University admissions office, the investigation created many more that desperately need to be answered.

After the reporting by this newspaper about the inconsequential Student Council investigation, many Student Council representatives seemed concerned about the lack of new information and debated the findings of the report in a meeting. Unfortunately, Student Council President Sarah Kenny seemed uninterested in pursuing this investigation further. This was exemplified by her statement that this type of preferential treatment happens at other elite Universities too, and that it only affects a very small number of students. After being pressed on it further, Kenny stated that this was not her top priority, effectively shutting down any further action by Student Council. This debate occurred during one of the of the final meetings of the spring semester, so as students prepared for finals and finalized summer plans, news about the lack of progress on this issue was lost and seems not to have resurfaced.

As the fall semester begins, the responsibility for holding the administration accountable falls squarely on the shoulders of Student Council and its leadership. Kenny ran on a platform of advancing diversity and inclusion at the University. Even though the University’s efforts on these issues are comparable to other elite universities, she seems to feel that we can do a better job in these areas. The same goes for our flawed admissions practices. We should seek to make our University the best we can make it, not just cater to the lowest common denominator. We should seek to show potential applicants that the University is a place where they can apply and not worry about being passed over in favor of someone receiving special treatment. Student Council should demand a more thorough investigation with more access to administrators, or we will never know how widespread these problems are. It is not doing right by current or potential students to let this issue go. By taking this scandal seriously and investigating thoroughly, Student Council will let the student body know that they can be counted on.

In order to affect change we have to demand that this issue be addressed. The actions taken to this point by both student leadership and the administration have been unacceptable. By attempting to tackle this issue and not cover for the University, Student Council will show potential students that we take the admissions process seriously. It does not matter how small the number of students who were affected — even one applicant being affected by this unfair process is too many. Not holding anyone accountable for the University’s admissions practices would be a failure of justice at this University. The only way any change can come about is if we demand it. Shady practices can only continue with the support of indifference, so we have to pay attention.

Jacob Asch is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He may be reached at j.asch@cavalierdaily.com.

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