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The Problem With The College Bribery Scandal That You Haven’t Thought About

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Above is a picture of actress Felicity Huffman, one of the many parents being charged in the bribery scandal.

Recently some 50 rich and famous people were charged with bribing school admissions counselors, coaches and test proctors to get their kids into elite colleges where they likely would not have been admitted if it weren’t for these extraordinary measures. It probably didn’t come as a terrible shock to most people. We are already used to the idea that society works differently for the rich and famous than it does for ordinary citizens. But one aspect of the scandal that isn’t getting enough attention, at least, outside of disability circles, is that one of the cheats they used involved feigning some sort of disability in order to get extra time on standardized tests.

It’s not always easy to get extra time when you really need it and the idea that the children of the rich and famous were able to access these accommodations hurts especially when you consider the struggles I had to go through just to be able to attend college and live in the dorms like my non-disabled peers. ( In fact, it is a slap in the face to every disabled person in America. It also sets up a dangerous precedent.

Pretending to be disabled to get extra time on a test or other accommodations makes these accommodations seem like mere tools people can use to get ahead instead of something that can help disabled people compete on an even playing field with their nondisabled peers. The idea that someone can use accommodations to cheat suggests they are a privilege and not a need. It is not a privilege to have extra time on a test to be able to articulate your thoughts on paper when your hands, brain, eyes or ears won’t allow you to do things as quickly as others.

When you are disabled, your ability to a be an intelligent and productive human being is continuously questioned. A good score on the standardized admission tests is often the key to getting into a good college and one of the few ways to prove that you are a smart and capable person. Meanwhile, being rich means your intelligence isn’t often questioned. Throughout his life my grandfather could often be heard repeating the question: “If you’re so smart why aren’t you rich?”

Rich people don’t need accommodations to get ahead, they’re already ahead. Meanwhile, disabled people often need accommodations just to achieve the kind of success in life most people would consider mediocre or average. When people take advantage of a system designed to help people who are truly disabled they only increase the number of hoops we have to go through to get what we need to succeed, all in the name of fraud prevention. And while this country likes to tout the principle that all people are innocent until proven guilty, authorities often have little problem letting people with disabilities know when they try to apply for these accommodations that they’re already a suspect in trying to game the system.

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