While a sports related scandal exposed possible fraud within the African and Afro-American Studies department, the issue goes well beyond athletics. It eats at the core of what a university is all about. North Carolina prides itself in national academic recognition. That’s why public comments from chancellor Holden Thorp and UNC system president Tom Ross are rather curious. They appear more interested in damage control.
In July of 2011, when Michael McAdoo’s plagiarized paper had gone viral, Thorp wanted the focus to be on the honor court’s handling of the situation rather than asking out loud why nobody bothered to read the paper in the first place. In an interview with the N&O, Thorp said he was not going to dig into Nyang’oro’s handling of the paper. “It’s very unfortunate what happened here, but I don’t get into grading for faculty members,” he said.
In a statement on Monday, Ross wasn’t interested in digging deeper. “I believe that this was an isolated situation and that the campus has taken appropriate steps to correct problems and put additional safeguards in place,” he said.
Ross only believes the case of Nyang’oro is isolated, but how does he know that? Wouldn’t it behoove the president of the entire university system to make sure everything at a flagship institution is kosher? At the very least that seems like a reasonable request.
Independent investigation anyone?
I wish I had the time to blog on topics such as this, but I just don’t anymore. Ovies is hitting my idea for a long, long entry about how during this entire process UNC has been avoiding the truth while at the same time investigating specific issues only scratching the surface and/or only in response to issues discovered by the media.
Look at this latest investigation by UNC. Without McAdoo’s lawsuit, the infamous Swahili paper never becomes public, the blatant plagiarism is never discovered, and the N&O likely never breaks the Swahili prong of this multi-pronged scandal. Once the paper became public, then the whole world knew that none of the people at UNC had even read McAdoo’s paper prior to going in front of the NCAA in a ridiculous effort to get him reinstated. Did this happen by accident? Did these folks really think they didn’t need to look at the work prior to the NCAA hearing? Or were they simply avoiding reading the paper in fear of discovering the plagiarism themselves knowing that once it was discovered they may be forced to dig further into academic improprieties?
Most importantly you have to remember Chancellor Thorp stating he doesn’t get involved with grading by faculty. Well, I can certainly see why he wanted to stay out of it this time.
Then Marvin Austin’s partial transcript is published by the N&O which leads to more questions about these Swahili courses and finally UNC’s hand is forced into investigating the African American department.
However, this investigation is limited to going back as far as 2007. Did they base the decision to limit the investigation for fear of what they might discover just like they may have when they chose not to read McAdoo’s paper?
With the massive amounts of fraud discovered, then why isn’t the investigation being expanded to go back further?
Now similar to Thorp’s stance that he doesn’t get involved with grading by faculty, we have the new head of the UNC System stating that he has heard enough, this was isolated, and it is time to move on. Nothing to see here. All is good.
The problem is that UNC has proven either incompetent to investigate themselves or unwilling to dig for the entire truth throughout the entirety of this investigation. How many instances of this incompetence or unwillingness to do a complete investigation have to occur before some adult somewhere in the UNC system or our state government stands up demands an independent investigation?