Lauren Fidelak found her name rippling across social media Thursday, which came as quite a shock to the Tulane University sophomore.
Even more shocking was why: Fidelak, 19, learned she was among a handful of plaintiffs in a splashy class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco over a bribery scandal that has rocked the ivory towers of U.S. academia.
But Fidelak told The Advocate on Friday that she never agreed to participate in the lawsuit against Stanford, Yale, UCLA and other top universities and has demanded to be removed from it.
“I’ve never spoken to anyone who was affiliated with this lawsuit. Never signed anything. Never approved of anything,” Fidelak said. “It’s the kind of shock I’ve never experienced before.”
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Her mother, Keri Fidelak of Natchitoches, had heard about the lawsuit and called the California attorneys involved in the case to learn more, she said. The conversation Thursday, which she described as a "fact-finding mission," lasted 10 minutes, she said.
“I was basically told we would get a packet of information in the mail,” Keri Fidelak said. “An hour and a half later, my daughter is calling me saying, ‘What’s happening? It’s all over social media.’ ”
A call to one of the law firms involved in the lawsuit was not immediately returned Friday.
Fidelak was the second named plaintiff to remove herself from the litigation since the original complaint was filed Wednesday. Erica Olsen, a Stanford student, was dropped from the lawsuit for unexplained reasons in an amended complaint that added Fidelak, her mother and four others.
The lawsuit, which some legal experts consider a long shot to succeed, takes aim at the universities and other actors in an evolving scandal.
Federal prosecutors charge that various people with different roles in college admissions — including sports coaches, test proctors and college-prep advisers — took six-figure payouts to rig standardized tests or fudge the qualifications of wealthy parents' children to secure them special slots reserved for recruited athletes.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged nearly 50 people related to the alleged bribery scheme, including numerous coaches and wealthy parents.
BOSTON (AP) — Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy pa…
The civil suit claims the student plaintiffs followed the rules and were the victims of a con that deprived them of a fair shot at admission at top schools.
Fidelak is described in the lawsuit as a stellar high school student who was rejected by USC and UCLA despite a 4.0 grade point average and a near-perfect score of 34 on the ACT standardized admissions test. She was so upset at being rejected, the lawsuit states, that she was hospitalized in Boston for an emotional breakdown.
Fidelak said the ACT score is accurate, but that the lawsuit misstates other facts about her. Her GPA from a New Hampshire boarding school was below 4.0, she said, and her hospitalization in Boston was unrelated to her college admissions results.
Fidelak said she was studying for an organic chemistry test Thursday when a reporter contacted her about the lawsuit. In a Facebook post, she described the lawsuit as “a terribly unnecessary and hypocritical action to take.”
Mostly, she said, she worried about how it would reflect on the university that welcomed her.
“I love Tulane, and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve gotten at Tulane,” Fidelak said.
Her name remained on the suit as of Friday afternoon.