Dear Readers: We were overwhelmed with letters about the college admissions scandal, and this is a continuation of yesterday's column, filled with questions, criticism and praise from my many talented and brilliant readers.
Dear Annie: I usually feel quite comfortable letting other people have their own opinions. But you were terribly off in your assessment of the college admissions scandal. Those parents harmed everyone in their behavior. Simply requiring that they pay more money to right their wrongs would be no punishment or deterrent. Money was part of why they believed themselves to be above everyone else.
They were cruel to their children. They had no faith in their own children and didn't trust that they could land on their feet. Their parenting skills must have felt inadequate and poorly executed for them to feel so little confidence in their own offspring. They were cruel to the peers with whom their children were competing. Feeling that they were better than all others, they showed themselves to be unworthy of their position.
They took the concept of a standardized education and testing and wrote their own rules. They believed themselves to be above all others. Those refusing to admit wrongdoing are rich cowards. No, paying more money won't fix a broken system. Much more needs to be addressed. — Grateful My Children Learned to Stand on Their Own
Dear Annie: Great idea on the hefty fines being paid to the universities for scholarships. I hope that is given serious consideration by the judges. Public opinion and shame will follow those folks and their children for a long, long time. — In Agreement
Dear Annie: I liked your judgment of having those parents pay double and have it go to deserving students. However, they should also have to serve at least a few months in prison. They cheated and paid others to take tests. They lied and claimed their kids were elite athletes, to the extent of Photoshopping their faces onto someone else's photo. The coaches involved will likely at least lose their livelihood. Your solution just allows the parents who paid to get their kids into college to pay to get out of the situation. What kind of message does that send? — In Disagreement
Dear Annie: Bribing is a criminal activity, whether it involves parents doing it for the benefit of their kids or politicians lining their pockets at public expense. I don't believe you can ever condone bribery. If the appropriate punishment is jail time, then that is what they should get. These wealthy people do not "suffer" if all the courts do is impose fines, as you suggested. I have a great deal of difficulty coming to grips with the concept of forgiveness in relation to law and order and punishment. I may have to ask a theologian for my enlightenment. — Appropriate Punishment
Dear Annie: You failed to address the fact that the kids were unfairly given slots that should have gone to others, so I would not permit them to continue to attend these colleges. What do you say? — Curious in Florida
Dear Curious: I agree that the students who were unfairly admitted to the universities should be expelled. They took something that did not belong to them — the slot that a more qualified applicant was denied. All thieves need to make restitution.
As for insisting on jail time, I agree that many readers have made a compelling case. To me, the most important thing is to use this tragedy to create something positive. News reports said that at least $25 million was paid in bribes. Imagine if those universities offered double that amount, or $50 million, in scholarships to well-qualified but financially needy students.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]