Readers React: Nazi salutes and a college fraud scandal: Something is rotten in the county of Orange

William “Rick” Singer leaves federal court in Boston after pleading guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

To the editor: At first glance, I did not see the similarities between the Orange County high school students who were videotaped giving the Nazi salute over red cups arranged in the shape of a swastika, and the college admissions cheating scandal allegedly masterminded by Orange County resident William “Rick” Singer. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: The common thread is privilege.

During a community gathering of hundreds of people two days after the anti-Semitic nature of their actions was revealed, several of the students admitted that they never connected the dots between what they did and the millions of innocents who were slaughtered during World War II. Very few of their parents, many of whom are well off, ever explained the horrors of the Holocaust.

Regarding the parents who allegedly paid thousands of dollars to Singer to have their kids fraudulently admitted to elite universities, you have to ask: What were these parents thinking when they crossed that moral red line? Like the teens who couldn’t connect the dots, these helicopter moms and dads could not either. They felt their children were entitled to admission at all costs.


If there is a takeaway for me, it is this: No matter how beautiful the landscape is along the county coastline, there is an ugliness that exists in the homes of far too many of our neighbors. We must do a better job conveying to our children the importance of playing by the rules.

Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach


To the editor: The DOJ, FBI, and SAT were the last trinity I expected in my morning news reading ritual.

As chief executive of a test preparation company and high-stakes test expert, I have been asked the “fee” for one of our staff to take a test for someone else. There is no fee. We don’t do it.

Love or hate these tests, their purpose is to compare the performance of large swaths of students to each other. The same set of questions enables admissions officers to do their jobs — evaluate prospective students. Grades are the result of inherent subjective grading systems and standardized tests level the playing field and contribute to a fairer process.

White wealthy parents, the most important thing to do for your child doesn’t cost a cent. Unambiguously see and celebrate them. That truly creates life-long feelings of security and self-worth.


Bara Sapir, New York City


To the editor: I would like to know how the young adults who gained entrance to these universities because of their parents’ alleged fraud feel about this.

Are they proud that their parents had the money and influence allegedly to put them ahead of a student who is actually qualified for acceptance? Do they see this as the way they will conduct themselves in life? Or are they embarrassed and ashamed?

I dread a generation of college graduates who believe that this behavior is just fine and a great way to achieve their goals in life.

Karla H. Edwards, Santa Clarita


To the editor: Bribery stinks, but admission to a school is not the same as graduation. Failure to perform will still result in dismissal, which opens a spot in the sophomore class for a junior college transfer like I was.

I say legitimize the pay-to-play process. If rich parents want to donate 10 times tuition with no guarantee of a degree just to get their kid admitted, let them do it.

Bruce Orsborn, Laguna Beach

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