STANFORD– In a dimly lit room in the back of Stanford’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, a group of admissions officers once sat in silence around a table shuffling through applications. Today, the window shades have been drawn down, and one notices a faint scent of alcohol and dust upon entering. This is the hidden side of Stanford Admissions, the former hangout of the underground Admissions Gambling Ring of Galvez Street, broken up by California state investigators last Monday.
It is a stunning revelation that is sure to inflict lasting damage on Stanford’s public image: for the last fifty-seven years, Stanford’s admissions officers have secretly assembled in room 106 of Montag Hall, staying up late on drunken March weekends to place bets on which of their admits will go far, and which will be the most spectacular failures. Former admissions officer William Cartman, who oversaw the New York applicant pool in the late 1980s, spoke candidly about the den of corruption that is Stanford Admissions. “I let this one a****** in because he was just an obviously spoiled, idiotic and self-obsessed little f*****, ” he told The Flipside. “I bet six grand that he wouldn’t survive into his sophomore year– and I made sure that he didn’t.”
Madeleine Garravo, in charge of California admissions until 2002, has pled guilty to charges of gambling after federal tax agents discovered that half of her income had been derived from successful wagers on the careers of Tiger Woods and Jerry Yang. In exchange for a lightened prison term, she told of the shady work that arose out of the group’s illegal activities. Among the numerous shocking disclosures: bribing T.A.s to inflate the grades of poorly performing students, deliberately causing deadly bike accidents, and delivering packets of anthrax to freshman dorm rooms.
The timing of the sting, a week before Stanford’s 2011 admit weekend, is apt. Stanford University’s admits and freshmen are reminded often that no matter how stressed they may feel, their admission was never a mistake. Now, nothing is certain– they may not have been a mistake, but they may have been a mere gambling piece.