A Rich White Girl's Application Said She Was a Black 'Tennis Whiz' In College Admissions Scandal

Illustration for article titled A Rich White Girl's Application Said She Was a Black 'Tennis Whiz' In College Admissions Scandal
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I wish I could transmit news from the college admissions scandal straight into my veins via IV drip, but for now I’ll have to settle for reading it as it comes in. This beautiful trainwreck has now brought us a Lifetime movie adaptation, a TV series on the fraud, and the delightful contents of Olivia Jade’s Youtube feed, and now this lengthy Vanity Fair article outlining how this all happened.


It’s easy to feel like a scholar on this situation given all the media and primary documents detailing these desperate rich parents and their children, but in the Vanity Fair article I was shocked to read about one application Rick Singer, the cheating ringleader, edited for an aspiring Tulane student. Reporter Evgenia Peretz writes that in 2017 a guidance counselor at one of the schools involved, Julie Taylor-Vaz of Buckley, noticed something was up when a Tulane admissions officer reached out to say the college wanted to offer a spot to the student Eliza Bass, who they described as an “African American tennis whiz, ranked in the Top 10 in California, whose parents had never attended college.” Well, isn’t that sweet! Except, of course:

But Taylor-Vaz knew this wasn’t true. Eliza was white. She didn’t play tennis competitively. And her father was Adam Bass, a wealthy board member, with a B.A. and law degree from USD. Taylor-Vaz shared the information with her superiors. Puzzled, Buckley made calls to Georgetown and Loyola Marymount. They too wanted to accept Eliza, the African American tennis wonder. Buckley set the colleges straight and promptly got to work trying to determine what on earth was going on.


Bass’s father, who has previously lobbied teachers to change his daughter’s grades at school where he was a board member, eventually caved to the school’s questioning and admitted he’d hired Singer to consult Eliza. In this case, consulting apparently meant asking Eliza for her application name and password and then going in and changed it without her knowledge. This lie ended up on applications to Georgetown and University of California schools. Eliza had to reach out to the schools and explain what happen who, naturally, thought this was unacceptable. She retracted and reapplied but ended up going to Berkeley in the end. How nice of them, to cheat into college the right way: through old-school grade grubbing and general wealth!

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.



Sorry, rant ahead.

This is so fucked up. All of it. Our federal and state financial aid procedures are impossible to navigate for the students who actually need them, and the only thing that these rich jackasses’ stories are going to do is force the creation of even more draconian measures to make it even harder to prove you have need.

If you’re an 18 year old who was kicked out of home for your sexuality, but haven’t been able to fully emancipate yourself from your well-off parents? Sorry kiddo, no meaningful financial aid for you until you turn 24.

If you’re 20 years old and haven’t heard from one of your parents in a year, and they haven’t filed taxes in years and they don’t support you anyway? You’re still technically a dependent, and have fun asking the IRS for a confirmation of non-filer status. You can only do it through snail mail, it takes weeks, and then you you’ll need to track down your MIA parent to get them to sign it. And you will NOT receive any federal aid until the form is back with the IRS and processed.

For every rich asshole giving up their guardianship of their kid to secure a better financial aid package, there are hundreds of kids who are struggling to navigate the college application/financial aid process alone, and it oftentimes seems like it was set up to make them fail. I’ve seen too many brilliant kids have to give up on college for a few years because they can’t be ruled as independents. Most of them don’t come back.