Several South Korean parents have created an online petition calling for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to reevaluate the acceptance of Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon’s daughter, Alex Han, alleging several instances of academic misconduct, plagiarism and dishonesty.
Since its launch two weeks ago, the Change.org petition, titled “MIT shouldn’t be a playground for cheaters,” has garnered over 40,000 signatures.
Parents are accusing Alex Han, a student of the MIT Class of 2027, of various academic violations including outsourcing a ghostwriter, publishing falsified research papers, infringing on copyright laws, over-inflating awards and community service achievements and obtaining unauthorized aid in an academic competition.
“If high school applicants are evaluated based on the amount of publicity that they have received during their high school careers, student A most likely ranks #1 among all Class of 2027 applicants,” the petition reads.
The group of parents characterizes Han’s acceptance as a “major red flag” in the college admissions system, arguing that today’s institution is already plagued by injustices and inequality imposed by the privileged class.
Additionally, the petition asserts that by choosing to disregard Han’s wrongdoings, MIT would be condoning cheating among the privileged as a means to gain admission to college.
One might ask, what if student A did not report in her MIT application any of the fabricated research articles and math workbooks, recognitions from Technovation Girls based on an app that she outsourced to a professional developer, or the scholarly article on the U.S. National Debt that she outsourced to a ghostwriter in Kenya? What if student A earned her MIT acceptance based entirely on her sole true merit?
While we will never know what material was included in her application to MIT, the truth stands that student A attempted to embellish her resume in unethical ways. Her MIT acceptance is not a chance episode that can be examined independently of its societal background and context.
According to The Korea Times, a woman, identified as Lee, claimed that her son applied to 16 schools but was only accepted to two of his backup options.
“Our worst nightmare became reality. I still cannot get over the fact that he got rejected from 14 schools despite his way above average GPA and test scores,” Lee said. “The last thing parents need is news that some entitled students got into a top school with untruthful credentials.”
Apart from the petition, parents who feel that their children were unfairly rejected continue to voice their concerns regarding Han’s acceptance by reaching out to MIT admissions staff, sharing their views on popular Korean online platforms and encouraging others to follow suit.
“One letter may not make a change, but our collective effort will make MIT reconsider Han’s acceptance. Think of Han’s spot as your own child’s that has been wrongfully taken away,” one social media user wrote.