For those of us here, I imagine that this will come as no great surprise:
At a time when it's more competitive than ever to get into the University of Illinois, some students with subpar academic records are being admitted after interference from state lawmakers and university trustees, a Tribune investigation has revealed.
Hundreds of applicants received special consideration in the last five years, according to documents obtained by the Tribune under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The records chronicle a shadow admissions system in which some students won spots at the state's most prestigious public university over the protests of admissions officers, while others had their rejections reversed during an unadvertised appeal process.
In one case, a relative of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the now-convicted influence peddler for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, got admitted after U. of I. President B. Joseph White wrote an e-mail stating that the governor "has expressed his support, and would like to see admitted" Rezko's relative and another applicant.
As surprising as this probably is for many people who haven't seen the shenanigans that go on in our nation's universities, this scandal in Illinois is actually pretty tame.
Our nation's institutions of higher learning are run through with a deep and persistent corruption that erodes any illusion that university education is primarily a meritocracy.
In just one case that I know of, and hasn't been made public, after a university announced that it was suspending a programs at the university it proceeded to admit 3 foreign students, most likely without even an application, at the request of these student's government. To be clear, numerous American students had applied to the program in question, and had received letters saying that the program to which they applied had been suspended.
Long after the deadline for applications had passed, a university provost made a phone call to the department in which the suspended program was located, ordering them to admit these foreign students even though American applicants had received letters saying that the program had been suspended.
The reason given by the provost for admitting these foreign students?
Their admission was critical to securing a study abroad relationship with an institution in their home country.
Moreover, this country in question has been known to send intelligence agents to the United States using the cover that they are university students.
Basically, the American university sold visas for these students to secure an institutional relationship with a Chinese university, and continued support from the Confucius Institute for the American universities Chinese language program.
Remember, these Chinese students were admitted without an application at the request of their home government as a quid pro quo for a study abroad relationship with an institution in China, and Confucius Institute support for a Chinese language program. Yet, American applicants who had followed the rules, were turned away because they didn't have someone influential to push for them to be admitted.
These Chinese students never even submitted an application, yet they were admitted (with funding) while American students who had followed the rules were turned away.
Beyond the gross unfairness here, it seems an awful lot like the university provost involved in pushing these Chinese students in over the department's objections basically sold visas, which has to be a violation of American law.