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美国顶尖名校的丑陋、残酷和不公正

更新时间:2019/3/14 16:25:47 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Bribes to Get Into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New?
美国顶尖名校的丑陋、残酷和不公正

One of the funniest stories I ever heard about the college admissions madness came from an independent consultant who was paid handsomely to guide families through it and increase the odds that Harvard or Yale said yes.

我听过关于大学招生乱象最好笑的故事是出自一名独立顾问,他会收取大笔费用,全程协助申请学校的家长,帮他们增加上哈佛或耶鲁的几率。

He recounted the involvement of one father and mother in their son’s personal (hah!) essay, which they didn’t trust him to ace himself. They drafted it, focusing of course on the hardship that he had overcome. But when they showed it to him, he spotted a minor problem. What they’d described — his mom’s difficult pregnancy, a sequence of visits to medical specialists, so much fear, so much suspense — predated his arrival in this world. Poignant as it was, he could take zero credit for it.

他讲述了一对父母如何参与儿子的个人(哈!)陈述写作,他们不放心他自己能写好。他们打了草稿,自然是侧重他克服困难的过程。但当他们把文章拿给他看时,他发现有个小问题。他们描述的事情——母亲艰难的妊娠过程,几次三番去看专科医生,充满恐惧,焦虑万分——都发生在他降生之前。的确是很辛酸,但他在这里面没什么作为。

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the indictments of dozens of wealthy parents, including the Emmy-winning actress Felicity Huffman, for employing various forms of bribery and fraud to get their kids into highly selective schools. Some of them allegedly paid college coaches, including at Yale and Stanford, to lie and say that their children were special recruits for sports that the kids didn’t even play. Others allegedly paid exam administrators to let someone smarter take tests for their children. Millions of dollars changed hands.

周二,司法部公布了针对几十名富人家长的起诉书,包括曾获艾美奖的女演员菲丽赛迪·霍夫曼(Felicity Huffman),指控他们动用各种形式的行贿和诈骗,把子女送入门槛很高的名校。其中一些据称贿赂过大学教练,包括耶鲁和斯坦福的教练,让他们谎称其子女是某项孩子压根就不从事的体育运动的特长生。还有一些人据称贿赂了考试行政人员,好让某个更聪明的人去替他们的子女参加考试。案件涉及数千万美元的交易。

It’s a galling exposé of widespread cheating by families who are already well-to-do and well connected, but it’s not really a surprising one. Anyone who knows anything about the cutthroat competition for precious spots at top-tier schools realizes how ugly and unfair it can be: how many corners are cut, how many schemes are hatched, how big a role money plays, how many advantages privilege can buy.

这是一次令人愤怒的披露,反映出原本已经很富裕、人脉很广的家庭在进行着何其普遍的舞弊活动,但这谈不上意外。任何对顶尖学校宝贵名额争夺的残酷程度有所了解的人,都能意识到它会有多丑陋、多不公正:走了多少捷径,酝酿了多少计谋,金钱发挥了多大作用,特权能换得多少优势。

The wrinkle here is that the schemes were actually criminal and will apparently be prosecuted, and for once the colleges’ administrators were in the dark about them. But they’re versions of routine favor-trading and favoritism that have long corrupted the admissions process, leeching merit from the equation.

这里的问题在于,这些骗局还是构成犯罪的,也显然会被起诉,而且高校的管理者还一度被蒙在鼓里。而这不过是常态化的恩惠收受和偏袒行为的一些表现形式,这些现象已长期腐蚀着招生程序,在体制中篡取好处。

It may be legal to pledge $2.5 million to Harvard just as your son is applying — which is what Jared Kushner’s father did for him — and illegal to bribe a coach to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but how much of a difference is there, really? Both elevate money over accomplishment. Both are ways of cutting in line.

在儿子申校之时就向哈佛承诺250万美元或许合法——这是贾里德·库什纳(Jared Kushner)的父亲替他做的——而给教练行贿几十万美元就属非法,但这真正有多大区别呢?两者都是用金钱盖过成绩。两者都是在插队。

It may be legal to give $50,000 to a private consultant who massages your child’s transcript and perfumes your child’s essays, and illegal to pay someone for a patently fictive test score, but aren’t both exercises in deception reserved for those who can afford them?

给私人顾问5万美元也许合法,他们可以“美化”你子女的成绩单,给你子女的文章润色,而付钱给某人换取公然作假的考试成绩就属非法,但两种欺骗做法难道不都是为能负担得起的人保留的么?

And while ghostwriting, whether by consultants or parents, may not be detectable or at least provable, it happens all the time and contributes to applications as bogus as the ones that came to federal prosecutors’ attention.

而代笔——无论是由顾问或父母——或许无法发现或者至少无法证明,但这种事一直都在发生,它们在申请中掺的假,和引起联邦检察官注意的那些并无二致。

What a message it sends to the children: You’re not good enough to do this on your own. You needn’t be. Your parents and your counselors know the rules, and when and how to break them. Just sit back and let entitlement run its course.

瞧它给孩子们传达的信息:你不够优秀,无法自己做这件事。你不需要。你的父母和你的顾问了解规则,并且知道何时以及如何打破它们。你只需要待着,让你的优越身份去发挥作用。

The Jared Kushner story was uncovered more than a decade ago by Daniel Golden, who showcased it in his 2006 book, “The Price of Admission,” a definitive account of the strings pulled by rich families like Kushner’s. Jared did get into Harvard, despite grades and test scores that were, according to Golden’s reporting, well below what Harvard typically wants.

贾里德·库什纳的事是十多年前由丹尼尔·戈尔登(Daniel Golden)在2006年著作《入学的价格》(The Price of Admission)中揭露的,书中明确讲述了诸如库什纳这样富裕的家族如何运用关系。贾里德的确进了哈佛,虽然根据戈尔登的讲述,他的成绩和考试分数远远低于哈佛一般的要求。

I spoke with Golden just after the Justice Department detailed the bribery and fraud scam, which he characterized as “an extreme outgrowth of what I wrote about.”

在司法部详细公布贿赂与诈骗丑闻后不久,我和戈尔登进行了交谈,他将其描述为“从我写的事情上生长出来的一个极端结果。”

“I had a chapter about how the wealthy benefit from athletic preference because there are so many white patrician sports that most kids never get a chance to play,” he said. Inner-city schools aren’t sending as many rowers or water polo players to the Ivy League as the storied boarding schools of New England.

“我书里有一章,讲的是富人如何从体育优先制度中受益,因为有太多白人贵族运动,大多数孩子从来没机会参加,”他说。“内城”学校向常春藤盟校输送的赛艇和水球运动员,比那些新英格兰地区大牌寄宿学校要少得多。

Golden added that the affluent kids in the just-revealed scam seized an edge beyond that. “They didn’t even bother to get on the team,” he said.

不只如此,戈尔登还说,在刚刚曝光的骗局中,富裕家庭的孩子又找到一个占便宜的办法。“他们甚至都懒得加入球队,”他说。

They got away with it, the Justice Department charges, because coaches went along with it, accepting bribes. The people indicted by federal prosecutors or implicated in what happened worked at Wake Forest, the University of Southern California, Georgetown, U.C.L.A. and other prestigious schools. According to court documents, the former head coach of the women’s soccer team at Yale pleaded guilty almost a year ago and became a cooperating witness who helped federal prosecutors gather evidence against others.

司法部指控称,他们之所以能得逞,是因为教练们接受贿赂。被联邦检察官起诉或牵涉其中的人在维克森林大学(Wake Forest)、南加州大学(University of Southern California)、乔治城大学(Georgetown)、加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)和其他名校工作。法庭文件显示,耶鲁大学女子足球队前主教练于近一年前认罪,并成为合作证人,帮助联邦检察官收集不利于他人的证据。

There are many takeaways from this appalling story. One is how crassly hypocritical parents can be. I bet that more than a few of those charged are proud liberals who talked about the importance of equal opportunity and an even playing field, then went out and did whatever it took to push their kids into the winner’s circle. In this case, they doomed them, imparting garbage values and mortifying them along the way.

从这个骇人听闻的故事中,我们可以得到许多启示。一是父母们可以是多么愚蠢虚伪。我敢打赌,很多被指控的人都是自豪的自由主义者,他们谈论机会平等和公平竞争环境的重要性,然后尽一切努力把自己的孩子推进赢家的圈子。具体在这一案里,他们毁掉了子女的未来,顺便向他们灌输了肮脏的价值观,让他们蒙羞。

While colleges pledge fairer admissions and more diverse student bodies, they don’t patrol what’s going on with nearly enough earnestness and energy to honor that promise. They’re ripe to be gamed because the admissions process is a game.

其次,虽然大学承诺更公平的招生和更多元的学生群体构成,但它们并没有以足够的认真态度和精力来审视当前发生的事情,以兑现这一承诺。他们是理想的欺骗对象,因为录取过程就是一场游戏。

The spell that some of these colleges cast over applicants and their families — and the magic attributed to them — are absurd. But they are indeed part of an infrastructure of perks and packaging that isn’t uniformly accessible.

这些大学对申请者和他们的家庭施加的魔咒——以及聚拢到这些大学身上的魔力——是荒谬的。但它们确实是一个用于优待和包装的基础设施的一部分,并非所有人都能享受。

When struggling Americans seethe at “the elite,” they mean parents who exploit their station to try to guarantee it for their kids. They mean the self-regarding colleges that allow that to happen.

当苦苦挣扎的美国人对“精英”感到愤怒时,他们指的是那些利用自己的地位为孩子提供保障的父母。他们指的是纵容这种情况发生的利己主义大学。

When they say that the system is rigged, they have this kind of wrongdoing — and the widely accepted and entirely legal shenanigans that are none too far from it — in mind. Our country’s best schools are supposed to be engines of social mobility and the gateways to dreams. Sometimes they’re just another sour deal.

当他们说整个体制受到操纵时,他们想的是这种不法行为——以及那些被广泛接受、完全合法、与之相去不远的其他鬼把戏。我们国家最好的学校应该是社会流动的发动机和通往梦想的大门。但有时它们只是又一笔糟糕的交易。

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