Dear Annie: My best friend and I agree on almost everything, but something has come up that has caused us to argue, and we decided to turn to you for advice. We both have children who are in their first year of high school, and when they graduate they want to go to college.
Our argument has been over the college cheating scandal that has sent shockwaves through the country. My friend says the parents who bribed their kids’ way into prestigious universities did what any loving parent would do, and that we should show forgiveness to them and their children. We are both Christians, and she says forgiveness is a tenet of our faith. She says that just because some of the parents are rich and famous, they are being unfairly singled out for harsher punishment than usual.
My argument is that these parents did a great disservice to their children, to the universities and to the well-deserving applicants who got turned down because the rich kids took their rightful place. I think the students who were admitted under false pretenses should all be kicked out – no exceptions. They stole something that did not belong to them – acceptance to a prestigious university. The parents should serve jail time to send a lesson to anyone who wants to cheat or buy their way into a school in the future.
You have a great deal of wisdom for your years, and we both read your column regularly and have decided to turn to you for your thoughts. I showed this letter to my friend to make sure that she felt that I was portraying both of our positions accurately, and she agreed. – Friends in Disagreement
Dear Friends: You both make good points, but I agree with you that simply forgiving everyone without any consequences would send a bad message to future cheaters. If I were the judge in these cases, here is what I would do with those parents who are found guilty: I would sentence them to pay a hefty fine – double the amount of money they spent on bribes. They would pay the fine to the same university they cheated, and the university would be required by law to use that money for scholarships for worthy applicants. That is paying a price, but one with a positive outcome that will improve the lives of hard-working students who are not from rich or famous families.
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