Following news of a nationwide college admissions scandal in which parents were accused of bribing their children's way into top schools, the University of Southern California (USC) has put students allegedly associated with the scheme on notice. USC's response to the college admissions scandal reveals that the school is taking action to investigate these students — and will consider expelling them.
The university announced its decision in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday:
USC has placed holds on the accounts of students who may be associated with the alleged admissions scheme; this prevents the students from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts while their cases are under review... Following the review, we will take the proper action related to their status, up to revoking admission or expulsion.
This announcement could potentially affect actress Lori Loughlin's and designer Mossimo Giannulli's two daughters, who both attend the university. Loughlin and Giannulli were both charged with felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after they allegedly paid $500,000 to get their kids into USC as fake crew team recruits. Loughlin, Giannulli, and their children have not commented publicly on the allegations against the couple.
On March 15, TMZ reported that their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, are not planning on returning to USC due to concerns about bullying. However, Olivia and Isabella have not confirmed whether or not they plan to remain enrolled at the school.
USC said on its website that, in addition to current students, it discovered that some prospective students were allegedly linked to the scandal as well. The university noted that it had "determined which applicants in the current [college] admissions cycle are connected to the alleged scheme and they will be denied admission." The school said it has "terminated two employees associated with the allegations" and placed a faculty member who was named in the indictment on leave.
The Los Angeles Times reported that, out of the multiple schools linked to the admissions scandal, USC was most significantly affected. Of 32 parents listed in the FBI affidavit on the matter, over half allegedly tried to cheat the system to get their children into USC, according to the paper.
In addition to university-wide action against students allegedly linked to the admissions scandal, USC's Annenberg School of Journalism is also taking its own steps to look into the matter. The school announced in a statement on Monday that it's launching a "collaborative student-faculty reporting initiative" to "discover the facts of the admissions cheating case."
USC Annenberg emphasized that its project will "operate independently of the university administration in all matters" and will "publish independent journalistic work that sheds light on these issues."
USC Annenberg is frequently ranked among the best communications schools in the United States and the world, the school wrote on its website in 2017. When announcing its reporting initiative, it said that the project "embodies a positive affirmation of our values as a school and failure to act would constitute a failure of our professional duties."
USC is clearly taking concerted action in the wake of the national scandal. University students, faculty, and alumni will likely be watching closely as the school conducts its own investigation into the matter — and as federal officials continue theirs.