Cash value of spinning victim narratives

“Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.” (nytimes):

Bryson Sassau’s application would inspire any college admissions officer.

A founder of T.M. Landry College Preparatory School described him as a “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded” student whose alcoholic father had beaten him and his mother and had denied them money for food and shelter. His transcript “speaks for itself,” the founder, Tracey Landry, wrote, but Mr. Sassau should also be lauded for founding a community service program, the Dry House, to help the children of abusive and alcoholic parents. He took four years of honors English, the application said, was a baseball M.V.P. and earned high honors in the “Mathematics Olympiad.”

The narrative earned Mr. Sassau acceptance to St. John’s University in New York. There was one problem: None of it was true.

If we believe the New York Times, America’s victimhood culture has progressed to the point that one can use a victim narrative to get into college just as one needs a victim narrative to earn asylum or refugee status (see “Asylum Fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies,” from 2014 when the NYT apparently thought that caravans of asylum-seekers were not a boon to the U.S.).

I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Landry should switch to the immigration industry:

To many T.M. Landry families, tuition is not cheap — about $600 a month, or $7,200 annually. Mr. Landry’s annual salary has averaged about $86,000

Our local public school burns through nearly $25,000 per year per student. Even the lowest level workers should enjoy total comp of more than $86,000 (salary, pension, health insurance, etc.).

My favorite part of this story is that the admissions bureaucrats at the fancy schools bought it all.

9 thoughts on “Cash value of spinning victim narratives

  1. “My favorite part of this story is that the admissions bureaucrats at the fancy schools bought it all.”

    The admissions bureaucrats believed it because they wanted to believe it.

  2. This sort of thumb on the scales is probably more widespread than realized.

    For example, as a high school student (about 20 years ago now) I once took a SAT II test in perhaps the poorest neighborhood in Boston.

    The proctor ignored the usual rules, allowing students to continue working after time was up for each section and leave the room freely during the test.

    While wandering the halls I also noticed quite a number of students out and about during tests, implying there was some sort of systemic practice underway. I was one of only two non-African American students I saw that day.

  3. Taking consideration of a difficult childhood in this case has to do with overcoming adversity, not your so-called victimhood culture, whatever that might be.

  4. Overcoming adversity introduced by a substandard parent? Aren’t the same universities publishing papers that say that children will closely resemble their biological parents in most respects, including behavior and overall “success” (see for example)? Unless the university is celebrating victimhood per se, why does disclosing a lack of family success make a candidate obviously more appealing to a university?

    • Phil: The idea is that it’s more challenging to get good grades in high school and accomplish other things in a chaotic home. It’s possible that you could somehow disagree with this notion, but it’s hard to believe that you don’t understand it.

      I have no idea if the faculty at St. John’s University has published anything on your Son Also Rises issue, but it shouldn’t matter. Those studies are always based on statistics and there are many famous examples of kids who overcome difficult backgrounds.

      Also, I don’t what you think it that makes a college “fancy”, but St. John’s University in NYC is not particularly prestigious.

    • Vince: If colleges were sincere in their belief that triumph over childhood adversity is the key to likely adult success, why would they admit anyone who grew up in the U.S.? If they rank applicants according to who has good grades and high SAT scores and also suffered childhood adversity, wouldn’t all of the top scorers be young people (you don’t want anyone over 18 or 19 in your “diversity” group!) from countries that are poor and/or conflict-plagued?

      Once you discover the idea that people will blossom once the adverse conditions created by their genetic forebears are removed, you would reject all of the Tiger-Momed kids from the American suburbs, right? You’d instead bet on someone who did well in high school despite a raging civil war.

      You’d also reject college-educated would-be immigrants from successful countries in favor of people forged in the crucible of adversity. For example, since Honduras has a lot of adversity, you’d admit unlimited caravans from Honduras and be pretty sure that, once established in the U.S. with its improved overall environment (well, except in our cities and neighborhoods that actually have higher murder rates than Honduras), they’d have an above-median income.

      (See and for some statistics. Note that a family of four needs to earn betwen $60,000 and $100,000 per year to be above the welfare line, depending on the state. Folks earning less than $100,000 per year will qualify for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. If they earn less than $81,000/year, they’re eligibile for public housing here in Boston (compare to just $61,750 in Dallas County, Texas).)

  5. In other false victim news:

    Woman hits herself and claims domestic violence
    A heartbroken Sydneysider has called for his wife to be kicked out of Australia after her cruel attempt to frame him landed him thousands of dollars in debt.

    Eight months into their happy marriage, Faisal began to doubt the motivations of his Moroccan wife Asmae and started to realise she mightn’t be there for love.

    Faisal, who had met his wife on a Muslim dating site, turned to a lawyer and emailed a visa migration professional.

    The email was discovered by his wife Asmae and fearing the divorce could get her kicked out of Australia, she concocted a cruel plan.

    Faisal said Asmae was waiting for him, telling her husband, “you think you are smart about me and you’re talking to lawyers. Now see what I do to you.”

    Asmae then fled the apartment, running into their building’s lift and waiting for the doors to close before the CCTV caught her beating herself up.

    The lift cameras caught Asmae repeatedly punching her own face before she flees the building and calls the police.

    Hours later, Faisal was arrested by police and charged with assault.

    More than $20,000 in lawyers fees later and after trawling through hundreds of hours of CCTV, Faisal finally had the evidence he needed to free himself of his wife.

    Asmae has now fled Sydney and is living somewhere in Australia. Faisal is calling on the government to send his estranged wife back to Morocco.

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