While it is the task of admissions officers at America’s elite universities to sift through the applications of students with perfect or near-perfect grades and scores to determine which of the applicants can contribute in significant ways to their incoming classes, it is also their task to not admit the next Ted Kaczynski. Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, was admitted to Harvard University as an undergraduate. He would subsequently earn graduate degrees from the University of Michigan. Disciplinary history, scary sentiments expressed in admissions essays, red flags in letters of recommendation…it can all scare admissions officers into denying an applicant’s case for admission (for good reason!). But every now and then — like in the case of Kaczynski — one slips through the cracks.
A Red Flag on the Other Side of the Admissions Desk?
A 2014 graduate of Yale University with a degree in environmental science has been arrested for attempted murder and domestic violence after allegedly stabbing a woman multiple times while he was under the influence of LSD. But this man, James Shirvell, wasn’t just a Yale graduate; he was also an assistant director of admission at Stanford University. In fact, he’s worked at the Stanford undergraduate admissions office for just about two and a half years.
As reports Courtney Douglas and Hannah Knowles for “The Stanford Daily” in a piece entitled “Admission Assistant Director arrested on attempted murder, domestic violence charges,” “Shirvell has worked for Stanford Admission since the fall of 2016 — first as an admission counselor and then as an assistant director — according to his LinkedIn profile. By Tuesday night, Shirvell’s name was not listed on the Stanford Admission webpage. In an email to The Daily Wednesday morning, University spokesperson E.J. Miranda said Shirvell ‘has been placed on leave and will not be coming to campus or performing any admissions work.’ ‘We are continuing to gather information on this matter to inform next steps,’ Miranda wrote. In an earlier email, he said Stanford did not learn of the arrest until Tuesday afternoon.”
Beyond the removal of Shirvell’s name from Stanford’s admissions office webpage, do our readers think Stanford will conduct an internal review? Will they reach out to applicants with whom he interacted? Our crystal ball hereby predicts there will no no such investigation and Stanford’s admissions office will not comment on this news story.