psssst . . . WHAT'S THE ANSWER?
J D Heyman
. New York: Jan 24,
2005. Vol. 63, Iss. 3; pg. 108, 4 pgs
Experts point to a constellation of contributing causes, from the premium placed on brand-name
colleges to the example of Enron and the blurring of right and wrong when it comes to things
like illegally downloading music from the Internet. "Young people have seen their parents cheat
on income taxes, they've heard about coaches who lied on their résumés, they know major
athletes who have taken drugs to perform better," says Gregory Cizek, a University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill assistant.
If nothing else, Elizabeth Paige Laurie learned this at college: Wealth has its privileges.
According to Elena Martinez, her freshman roommate at the University of Southern California,
while other students studied, Laurie-an heiress to part of the $2.9 billion Wal-Mart fortune-hit
Hollywood clubs, sat courtside at Lakers games and hopped to the Caribbean in the family jet.
"Paige would come home late, talking about all the celebrities she'd met," says Martinez, a
student from rural Banning, Calif. "I saw her study maybe once or twice." Yet with a little help
from her roomie, Laurie scored mostly A's and B's at USC and coasted to graduation with a
communications degree in May 2004. According to Martinez, Laurie, 23, paid her a total of
about $20,000 to write her papers and help her prepare for tests, even after Martinez dropped out
of school and moved back home. "I never got less than a B for her," Martinez, 22, says. "What
started as a favor became a lot more complicated."
But not that unusual. The USC scandal-which Laurie's family has not commented on and which