USC Journalism School Vows to Investigate University's Admissions System

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - USC's Annenberg School of Journalism today announced it would independently investigate the ``fundamental inequities'' in the university's admissions system in light of the recent college entrance exam cheating scandal in which two USC athletic department employees were fired.

The school said in a tweet that USC Annenberg's journalism and public relations faculty had voted unanimously Monday to approve a six-point mission statement in response to a scandal that represents ``a personal affront to the effort and integrity'' of students.

``Transparency, honesty and accountability are at the core of the journalism and public relations professions,'' faculty tweeted. ``For that reason, we believe we have a moral and intellectual obligation to speak out and demand that USC uphold these values.''

The Annenberg staff pledged to immediately launch a collaborative student-faculty reporting initiative that will seek to discover the facts of the admissions cheating case, ``as well as previous scandals, of equal of greater gravity.''

The enterprise will explore the university's ``culture and governance failures, especially its lack of transparency and documented tendency to turn a blind eye,'' USC Annenberg faculty said, promising to operate independently of the university's administration.

The school also pledged to begin work on a series of projects designed to address USC's ``abject failure to communicate honestly and regularly with its constituents.''

Additionally, the faculty said USC Annenberg students would investigate the ``fundamental inequities'' of the university's admissions systems ``and lack of transparency.''

As a result of the admissions probe revealed last week by federal prosecutors in Boston, more than 30 parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, 11 athletic officials, coaches at USC, UCLA and other universities, and the scheme's admitted ringleader, William ``Rick'' Singer, were charged.

The FBI investigation, code-named operation Varsity Blues, uncovered a network of parents who paid thousands of dollars to Singer. The Newport Beach-based businessman promised to improve the children's chances of gaining entrance into elite colleges, including Yale and Stanford, by paying others to take exams, and bribing test administrators and college coaches to describe the applicants as athletes.

USC last week fired senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, who were among those indicted in the case.

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