“home sale may become the next chapter in the national debate over fairness in college admissions”
Until now, the college admissions scandal has highlighted crimes like alleged bribes, test cheating, and falsified data. A new story unfolding in Massachusetts revolves around the sale of a house.
Joshua Miller reports at the Boston Globe:
He bought the fencing coach’s house. Then his son got into Harvard
It was a modest house by this town’s standards, a center-entrance colonial, three bedrooms and a two-car garage on a quarter-acre lot. The inside hadn’t welcomed a renovator in many, many years, and the outside didn’t wear its age particularly well.
Its owner: Peter Brand, Harvard University’s legendary fencing coach. Its assessed value: $549,300.
So when the house sold to a wealthy Maryland businessman for close to a million dollars in May 2016, the town’s top assessor was so dumbfounded that he wrote the following in his notes: “Makes no sense.”
Now it might.
The buyer, it turns out, was the father of a high school junior who was actively looking at applying to Harvard with an eye toward being on the fencing team.
Soon enough, Jie Zhao’s younger son would gain admission and join the team. And Zhao, who never lived a day in the Needham house, would sell it 17 months after he bought it for a $324,500 loss.
The home sale may become the next chapter in the national debate over fairness in college admissions.
The Harvard Crimson notes that the school was not implicated in the national scandal, and has already opened an investigation for this specific case:
Breaking: Harvard Investigates Head Fencing Coach for Real Estate Transactions Involving Family of Current and Former Student-Athletes
Harvard will open an independent investigation into the University’s head fencing coach after he was allegedly involved in real estate and non-profit transactions with the family of current and former students on the team, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay wrote in an email to Harvard affiliates Thursday…
Harvard was notified of the allegations against Brand on Monday, according to Gay. The University has since opened an “independent review.”
Gay’s announcement comes in the wake of a nationwide admissions cheating scandal in which 50 people have been charged for taking part in a scheme involving the bribing of university officials and falsifying of test scores to earn the children of wealthy entrepreneurs and celebrities admission to top universities.
Harvard was not implicated in the scandal.
The man who bought the house from the fencing coach denies any wrongdoing, but Harvard has a stated conflict of interests policy, which may have been violated.
Scott Jaschik reports at Inside Higher Ed:
Admissions Scandal Hits Harvard
Zhao told the Globe that the purchase had nothing to do with his son’s efforts to get into Harvard. His son was an excellent student and fencer, Zhao noted. But he did want to help out Brand, who has had a long commute from his home to work and could benefit by buying a home closer to the university. (Zhao’s older son was on the team at the time.)
Brand did not respond to the Globe or Inside Higher Ed about the situation.
Harvard has a conflict-of-interest policy that would appear to apply to cases where a coach would sell a home at an inflated price to the father of an athlete and an applicant.
The policy states that “a conflict of interest exists when individual commitment to the university may be compromised by personal benefit. Employees are expected to avoid situations or activities that could interfere with their unencumbered exercise of judgment in the best interests of Harvard University.”
If this scandal does nothing else, it could lead to some much needed reforms in higher education, specifically in the admissions process.DONATE
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