By Sean Lee
The son of Menlo Park parent Marjorie Klapper was revealed to have been falsely identified as both black and Hispanic on his Common Application at the advice of college admissions scandal mastermind and purported college counselor William Rick Singer, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Saturday.
A number of Singer’s clients were presented with the option to racially identify on their applications as a minority in order to gain a comparative advantage, according to the WSJ.
In addition to misrepresented racial identity, Klapper’s son’s application contained an ACT score that he did not earn. In exchange for a $15,000 donation from Klapper to Singer’s sham charity, The Key Worldwide foundation, a proctor employed by Singer corrected Klapper’s son’s exam. Klapper, who co-owns a jewelry business, said she would plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Other students were advised to claim that they were Native American on the basis of distant relations, although there was at least one case where a student claimed to be Native American where “there was absolutely nothing Native American about this kid,” one of the WSJ’s sources said. Singer advised families that not taking the option to misrepresent their child’s race would put their child at a “comparative disadvantage.”
The Common Application includes an optional section where applicants can specify their race and ethnicity. There are multiple prompts to confirm the applicants’ selection of background, which makes it unlikely for a mistaken selection, according to Stefanie Niles, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. According to the WSJ’s sources, the Klapper family was aware that the boxes for black and Hispanic were checked on his final application.
This comes as another twist in the college admissions scandal, which has thus far mainly involved cheating on standardized tests and falsified athletic credentials. It also comes amid a whirlwind of attention surrounding the role that race plays in college admissions, as Harvard faces a lawsuit for alleged discrimination against Asian American applicants as a result of affirmative action — a practice performed at schools across the country, including Stanford.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen, who is prosecuting the case, categorized the tactic utilized by Singer as “an attempt to take advantage of perceived benefits from affirmative action and other programs.” Singer later said that “everything that Mr. Rosen stated is exactly true.”
None of the parents charged in the college admissions scandal have been charged in relation to misrepresentations of race and ethnicity, and instead face charges related to bribery and/or cheating on exams. Lying on a college application is not necessarily a crime, according to the WSJ report.
Contact Sean Lee at seanklee ‘at’ stanford.edu.