In a stunning announcement last week, federal prosecutors revealed a college admissions scandal in which wealthy — and, in some cases, famous — parents bribed college coaches and faked test scores to get their children into the schools of their choice.

Joining Boston Public Radio to weigh in on this topic and the way it could impact the national debate over affirmative action was Rev. Irene Monroe. Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail and a visiting researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology.

Monroe said opponents of affirmative action for minority students often make the argument that beneficiaries are taking spots at colleges away from supposedly more qualified applicants.

"It's always the assumption that ... number one, you're taking the spot of a deserving white candidate; and number two, that you're 'dumbing down' the curriculum," Monroe said.

The scam complicates that perspective, she pointed out.

"We've always known there are two doors for white students to get in: The front door is the legacy kids that are admitted, and the back door are [through] donations that people who are not graduates of the university can offer their sons and daughters opportunities to get in," she continued.

The scam reveals that — while college admissions may look on the surface like a meritocracy — it is often the product of privilege in action, said Monroe.

"This is sleek mediocrity repackaged as brilliance," she said.