Clout Gets You Into U of I: Report

Competition for University of Illinois admissions may be tainted by clout

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Courtesy: athletics.uiuc.edu
    Kenney Gym on the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana campus.

    It's a state school and, therefore, a more affordable option for Illinois residents anxious to get a solid college education, but getting into the University of Illinois is no easy trick. Its standards are high and, even with state tuition, it can be costly for a student to take classes and live on or near the Champaign/Urbana campus.

    On top of all that, the Chicago Tribune is reporting today that admission may depend, in part, on whether you know someone in high places. It's about clout, the paper says.  It's not about what you know or how high your grades and test scores are.

    Does It Take Clout to Get Into College?

    [CHI] Does It Take Clout to Get Into College?
    A Tribune investigation claims influence peddlers were able to get students admitted to the University of Illinois based on who they knew, not what they knew.

    The paper sites the admission of a relative of Tony Resko's whose entry was greased by an e-mail from U. of I. President B. Joseph White indicating that then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich "has expressed his support and would like to see (said individual) admitted." 

    According to the Tribune:

    Since 2005, about 800 undergraduate students have landed on the clout list for the Urbana-Champaign campus. It's unknown how many would qualify for entry on their own, but their acceptance rate is higher than average. For the 2008-09 school year, for example, about 77 percent were accepted, compared with 69 percent of all applicants.

    President White denies that there's any preferential treatment given to less qualified students with some clout connection.

    While declining to discuss specific cases, including the Rezko relative, he said: "I would never support admission of a student over better-qualified students simply because of connections and pressure."

    Further findings of the Tribune investigation include evidence that admissions officers "complained in vain" when their recommendations were overruled by higher ups, and lawmakers delivered admission requests to U. of I. lobbyists, whose jobs depend on pleasing the lawmakers.