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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/19/19

The Trumps and Jared Kushner Cheated Their Way into Elite Colleges

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Like celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, the Trumps and Jared Kushner cheated their way into elite colleges. While their bribes were of a different nature, the President's family members did not deserve to get into the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School or Harvard, yet they were accepted because of timely "donations." A bribe by any other name is still a bribe.

It was perfectly legal money and connections that helped ease the first family's way into Penn's Wharton School. However, it was highly unethical and unfair. As the President is fond of saying: the system in rigged. This type of bribery should be outlawed by Congress and the states.

Mediocre Students

Despite the president's portraying himself as a "really smart guy," Trump's grades from his two years at Fordham University were simply merely "respectable." Gwenda Blair wrote in The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President that Trump got into Wharton in 1966 after an interview with a "friendly Wharton admissions officer" who was a close friend of Trump's older brother.

And around the time Trump's son Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka began classes at Penn in 1996 and 2000, the university benefited from more than $1.4 million in pledged donations from Trump, reported in the school newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian.

"This string of donations Trump may have made in the late nineties roughly coincides with his children's enrollment at Penn," the Daily Pennsylvanian found.

And a timely $2.5-million donation coincided with Jared Kushner, now husband of Ivanka Trump and a top aide to the president, being accepted to Harvard University in 1999, ProPublica editor Daniel Golden reported in The Price of Admission." There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard," a former official at Kushner's New Jersey high school told Golden. "His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not."

In 2011, Trump was pushing to have his grades hidden because he didn't want anyone to know that he was in remedial reading and his transcript was lackluster. Leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump directed his personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, to threaten legal action against the colleges and high school he attended if they publicly released his grades or standardized test scores. Cohen revealed details about the threats among a list of other actions he took on behalf of Trump in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.

"When I say conman, I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores," Cohen testified. In support of his testimony, Cohen provided a May 2015 letter that he wrote to the president of Fordham University, the New York school Trump had attended for two years in the 1960s before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. Fordham spokesman Bob Howe confirmed Cohen's account. He said that while Trump was campaigning for the presidential election, someone from his team called the university for assurance that it would not release any of Trump's records.

The Costs to Society

Society loses when highly qualified students are denied admission because they failed to have connections or make a donation to a university, or bribe a coach or other university official. The United States now has a President who demonstrates that he did not deserve to get into the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The President's lack of discipline, failure to read intelligence and other reports, and general stupidity are causing harm to the country. He failed to do his homework on North Korea and for this reason among others the summit in Hanoi appears to be an abject failure.


An amendment to the Civil Rights laws can be enacted that "prohibits universities from discriminating against applicants whose parents have not made donations to the university." The law could further specify that "applicants for admission to colleges and universities must be decided solely on the merit of the individual applicant."

Congress would have to conduct hearings, but I'm quite sure that the hearings would demonstrate that donations to universities unfairly discriminates against minorities, students from rural areas, and other highly-qualified students who have been turned down because their parents were not rich enough to buy them a place at an elite school.

By Joel D. Joseph. Mr. Joseph is a civil-rights attorney who has authored several federal and state laws.

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