The [Tuesday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
"The University of Illinois announced Monday that it will temporarily suspend the use of a clout list in the admissions process," the Tribune reports.
It will return once safeguards are introduced to make sure that, um, adequate caps on clout are put in place.
"U. of I. officials also said they would appoint a panel to examine the process and suggest ways to avoid political pressure in future admissions decisions."
For example, prohibiting political pressure on future admissions decisions.
But let's see what the panel comes up with.
"The task force will report to university trustees."
Who will then take the matter under advisement until it's forgotten about.
"The review will examine how contacts from legislators, trustees, alumni and others have been managed in the past, what best practices are at peer institutions and what changes should be made going forward to ensure the integrity of the admissions process," the schools said in a press release.
I can save y'all a lot of time and money. From now on, legislators, trustees, alumni and others are hereby instructed not to contact the admissions office. Admissions officials are hereby instructed to make public all such contacts and sternly remind anyone making them that they are not to interfere with the integrity of the admissions process.
"University officials initially tried to contain the fallout by denying the list's existence and later suggested only a small number of students were admitted who might otherwise be denied."
Isn't that academic fraud? Or even the garden-variety kind?
Maybe the state attorney general should investigate. After all, she's already opened a probe into the city's parking meter lease on the basis of potential consumer fraud.
"House Speaker Michael Madigan . . . has backed more [subpar clout list] applicants than any other legislator in the last five years."
"Faced with public backlash, they released a statement Friday afternoon saying they 'mostly get it right'."
Is there a class-action suit waiting to happen here?
"In one case, a relative of Antonin '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."
I'm not entirely sure, but I seem to recall that White's previous job was running the online division of the Cayman Islands College of Clout.
"President White said it's not unusual for selective universities to receive input from interested parties, and it's important to have a system to track the requests."
Otherwise how will they know who to recoup the favor from?
"The additional information can help the admissions office make more informed decisions, he said."
Otherwise, they're just operating in the dark.
"Though he said the university discourages applicants from sending letters of recommendations, saying on its Web site that 'sending unsolicited materials can be distracting'."
We don't want recommendations nobody sent.
"Lawmakers delivered admission requests to U. of I. lobbyists."
Many of whom are U. of I. graduates who majored in lobbying.
"We are a public institution and I think we have to answer to the state and that means those who support us perhaps through their acting representative, the board who is our governing body , and all the parents who call me up," said Chancellor Richard Herman. "I feel I have to be able to respond."
Maybe your response should be "No."
"About half of this year's Category I applicants have ties to state lawmakers, who routinely insert themselves into the admissions process."
Now, does Category I stand for Indictment or Impeachment?
"Among those [applicants tracked] was a New Trier senior whom Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) wanted admitted . . . his district does not extend into New Trier's boundaries."
Cullerton refused to comment. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be asked about this every single day.
Cullerton, Madigan, Blago, and now B. Joseph White. These are the state's leaders.
Athletes on steroids are better role models.
Stroger, Daley, Ryan.
Our entire state is a criminal enterprise.
Can the federal government prosecute Illinois under the RICO statutes?
Seize our assets?
Put all our elected officials into indefinite detention?
"To be honest, I think it helps to let [university officials] know we're watching," said state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-River Forest).
Watching what, the ethical transgressions of the admissions process?
"In March 2008, Board of Trustees Chairman Niranjan Shah pushed for a student to be admitted to the rigorous MBA program, even though Chancellor Herman warned that school officials 'had serious concerns about his ability to handle the academics'."
The chairman of the Board of Trustees.
That's okay, though; nobody takes an MBA from the University of Illinois very seriously.
"Trustee Lawrence Eppley said he forwards requests regardless of whether he knows the applicants."
No wonder the other trustees always make fun of Eppley.
"[Eppley] said he tries to 'demystify' the application process."
One applicant he doesn't know at a time.
"To the extent some problems were pointed out, we can and will correct them," White said.
And to what extent is that, exactly? Eppley?
"To the extent that the story points out that there has been a small number of instances of inappropriate pressure to admit students . . . in the sense, jump over other students, we have to be crystal clear with our deans and admissions people that they are not to succumb to such pressure."
Maybe appoint a task force to study how to do that and have it report back to you.
She was on somebody's clout list too.
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Posted on June 2, 2009
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