Assume nothing, question everything

By: David Gallagher
License: Some rights reserved
Title: photo.jpg

With all the new technologies and potential for fake news/images, there is even more of a need for people to become digitally literate.  Sadly, it’s especially becoming more valuable and necessary in the world of college admissions. Recently there have been a number of different admissions scandals, some more widely known than others and I can’t help but think if the Admissions staff or administrators were more digitally literate it could’ve been caught sooner.

Just last month, news broke about how dozens of wealthy and/or famous parents paid off a college admissions counselor as well as coaches to cheat and obtain admission into elite universities for their children. This included schemes to obtain higher test scores and pretend the students were athletes by way of falsifying images and documents, which is the part that really alarms me. It makes me wonder if the Admissions staff was properly trained to be more digitally literate and to question the information that comes through, this could have been avoided (although not if the administrators were the ones being paid off!). Whether it includes looking at an image more closely, searching online for potential image matches to determine if it’s the original image undisturbed, or even require more proof than an image or coach’s word that a student plays a specific sport. With staff becoming more visually and media literate, it could have saved these colleges/universities the embarrassment and headaches of lawsuits.

The fact that administrators and coaches at such elite schools would go above and beyond to ensure these students were admitted not because of their ability but because of their parent’s wallet size is frightening and disturbingly unethical. It pains me to think what qualified student wasn’t able to follow their dream because of these greedy individuals.  I also shudder to think how many other students and scenarios have gone unnoticed. I just hope the next time someone considers falsifying admissions documents they will think twice. The only silver lining is that, I believe the admissions and sport recruitment process at most colleges and universities across the U.S. will be under a microscope and will (hopefully) put stricter, more digitally literate guidelines in place.

In the current digital age where there are lots of document imaging software available and the potential for doctoring documents is as high as it is, we have to question everything’s authenticity.  All of our readings continue to drive that point home, assume nothing is as it appears, question everything!

One thought on “Assume nothing, question everything

  1. HI Tracy,

    I really like the way you have mined the digital literacy aspect of the recent admissions scandal to point out that some things that used to qualify as evidence or reliable documentation (like photographs) do not (and should not)have that same status in the digital world, because of how they can be manipulated. The dark side of “Remix.” I agree that, given the high stakes related to college admissions one wonders that more wasn’t done to verify the validity of the images and other documents. Then again it’s mind-boggling to see some of the lengths to which the parents went to perpetrate this fraude. See #8 in this article from the Atlantic monthly which describe how a graphic designer was hired to help fake a water polo photograph.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: I love the image you chose for your blog post (it’s so perfect!) but it looks like the license is “All rights Reserved” which means that the owner of the image has not made it availble for others to use. Please select another image to replace it.


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