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Let those accused of cheating the college admissions process repay their debt by writing a check to SOY

Let those accused of cheating the college admissions process repay their debt by writing a check to SOY
Among those accused in the scandal, clockwise from top left: J. Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin, William "Rick" Singer, Felicity Huffman, Yale's women's head soccer Coach Rudy Meredith; former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer; USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic. (EPA / Shutterstock / AP / Getty Images / Los Angeles Times)

The minute I heard about the families that had cheated to get their kids into prestigious colleges, my thoughts immediately went to Save our Youth, or SOY, a nonprofit that sits alongside the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and helps those without massive amounts of money and influence have a chance at the same dream of college and a better life. I felt like the SOY kids were being cheated, and it really infuriated me. Like most other things in life the educational system has become rigged for the haves over the have nots.

The system has always been one-sided as the wealthier families can pay for prep schools that often cost more than college, private tutors, college coaches and private college prep. This affords their kids the best chance at stellar ACT/SAT scores to aid them at getting into the best schools.

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The SOY organization was created 25 years ago to try and level the playing field by offering everything from afterschool tutoring for homework to helping write college essays. SOY has a program that has helped hundreds of underprivileged youth get into four-year colleges and has given thousands of dollars in scholarships for each student to truly help change the trajectory of their life.

When a college accepts a student who has cheated to get there, that is one less spot for a student who has worked tirelessly to get into that school. Maybe a way the cheating families can make amends to society is by donating whatever they spent on rigging the system to a nonprofit like SOY that helps those who don’t have access to this kind of money.

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Actress Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli, for example, are accused of paying $500,000 to cheat the system. How about they donate $500,000 to SOY to help us send some honest, hardworking kids to college?

If each family that had the means to cheat was challenged to help send unprivileged kids to college, imagine the impact. We could help 50 first-generation college students with that kind of money. Sending these people to prison isn’t going to help our society, and it only adds to the overincarceration problem we face in America. Make them help those in need and work at an organization like SOY to repay their debt to society.

Johanna Curgus

Newport Beach

The writer is a volunteer board member at Save our Youth (SOY) in Costa Mesa.

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Reboot the Election Reform Committee

Those who follow local news await with interest the results of the 44 counts levied by the hearing officer from the legal division of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FFPC). On Jan. 14 these 44 counts were returned against current council members Marshall Duffield, Kevin Muldoon and Diane Dixon and former council member Scott Peotter.

These current and former council members, known formerly as “Team Newport,” along with their political consultant and campaign treasurer, plan to settle their dispute with the state over their 2014 campaign finance disclosures. This information and more detail is available in a Daily Pilot front page article from Feb. 28.

Regardless of the outcome of this dispute with the FFPC, it seems like this would be the perfect opportunity for the City Council to resurrect its Election Reform Committee, which was formed a few years ago but left inactive. This would help avoid such misunderstandings and/or violations in the future. And it would help restore residents’ confidence in the election process and city government.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

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