Article: Is The UNC Honor Court Broken?

To hear some critics tell it, the student-run undergraduate honor court at UNC-Chapel Hill is a bogus enterprise: It’s so inefficient and unwieldy that it cheapens the integrity of faculty members and allows cheating students to get off scot-free.

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UNC Scandal

26 Responses to Article: Is The UNC Honor Court Broken?

  1. State Fan 07/16/2011 at 9:45 AM #

    Clearly it is broken if plagiarism-detection software isn’t even used.

  2. PacknSack 07/16/2011 at 9:51 AM #

    Considering the vast tracts of the McAdoo paper that were so blatantly copied, and they found nothing to punish him for is a pretty scathing indictment. But I’m sure that’s the exception rather than rule 😉

  3. redwolf87 07/16/2011 at 9:54 AM #

    There are some university accreditation organizations that might like to have this information.

  4. El Scrotcho 07/16/2011 at 11:29 AM #

    I might be wrong – but after reading most of that article, and based on my experience with the court at State, the burden of identifying violations (lifting an entire paragraph from another source) is on the professor. The court is charged with reviewing the violation outlined by the professor, not extensively probing the paper for additional violations. The burden lies with the highly paid professor, not a group of unpaid volunteers.

    The article is more balanced than the summary here indicates – worth a read.

    My feeling is that the root problem is with complicity on the part of key professors, not the honor court.

  5. BJD95 07/16/2011 at 11:49 AM #

    It’s not “broken” if it worked as designed. Being easy on athletes is a “feature” not a “bug” – if you’re certain BOT/BOG members.

    The question is – will there be any legs to an alumni/faculty/student eform effort? Or will it just be swept under the rug?

  6. BJD95 07/16/2011 at 11:51 AM #

    And for the record, I do believe there are a significant number of Carolina alums and students with integrity who can and hopefully will take back their university.

  7. TopTenPack 07/16/2011 at 11:51 AM #

    I served on the NC State J-Board for 18 months back in 1999-2000. I saw some crazy cases. It is funny to see two students try to reason out how they turned in substantially similar papers to the same professor.

    NC State’s system seems to be a hybrid system compared to UNC and is better for it. The academic hearing board had both students and faculty. A professional staff ran the overall process. No human system is perfect, but I think NC State J-Board system works reasonably well.

    UNC also differs from NC State in one important cultural area. As the old adage goes, “UNC is hard to get into, NC State is hard to get out of.” UNC overall runs under the assumption that they have the best of the best while NC State runs under the assumption that there are non-hackers that must be weeded out. I see the Honor Board’s problems as a symptom of UNC’s elitism.

  8. Astral Rain 07/16/2011 at 12:08 PM #

    It doesn’t sound that bad from reading the article. There are areas it could be improved though from the sounds of it, but no system of punishment is perfect.

    You’re always going to have unpopular decisions- I wonder if some of that is sour grapes from professors and/or students.

    That said, it’s also possible that it’s just as corrupt as the rest of them. That article raises questions but doesn’t make definite conclusions.

  9. VaWolf82 07/16/2011 at 2:22 PM #

    The missed plagarism on the McAdoo paper we’ve seen says very little about the Honor Court. People seem to forget that he was convicted of cheating on this paper and suspended for playing football last year and from school for last spring’s semester. The plagarism says more about the “adults” at UNC who supported McAdoo without even reading the paper in question.

    If you’re looking for a coverup, then you need to examine the two instances where he was cleared or the student AG decided not to take the case to the Honor Court. Find evidences of cheating in those two cases and then you’ve got something.

  10. hball57 07/16/2011 at 2:54 PM #

    I think we have gotten worked up over nothing.

    You can turn in a paper that is made up of nothing but quotes if the quotes are properly cited. You will not get good points for content but the paper is not plagiarized if proper credit have been given.

    So in this case, the honor court convicted McAdoo of the proper charge, improper citation of the paper. The fact that this was a paper that was garbage in content was covered in the grade given – F.

    The fault lies in the public statements that these were McAdoo’s ideas alone. But the honor court issued the proper judgement for the proper reasons.

  11. Old MacDonald 07/16/2011 at 4:10 PM #

    I don’t think hball57 is correct on a lot of those points.

    The honor court found him guilty of cheating on his cite forms (by receiving too much help on them). The paper was ridiculously cut-and-pasted, with no attribution given to many of the ideas (and even entire paragraphs) McAdoo presented on his own. That is very serious stuff, and goes way beyond “improper citation.” You can get expelled for that.

    Also, I don’t think he initially got an F on the paper (for the “content”). I don’t think that has ever been revealed. This whole thing came up not because the prof. turned him in, but because the tutor prong came up when the NCAA was questioning Little and some emails were released that showed Wiley was helping McAdoo too much.

  12. Old MacDonald 07/16/2011 at 4:13 PM #

    People are bending over backwards to rationalize how this McAdoo paper incident does not reflect badly on UNC when it obviously does.

  13. State Fan 07/16/2011 at 4:22 PM #

    Agreed, OMD. We don’t know whether or not he made statements to the honor court similar to those made to the NCAA. However, there’s no excuse for the AD and university attorney asserting to the NCAA that, but for the help he received on the sources page, it was otherwise all his own work.

  14. hball57 07/16/2011 at 4:47 PM #

    Old Mac-

    While it was not publicized much, I did hear that the initial grade was a F. I am not clear that the honor court specified whether they punished him for outside help or that the citations were incorrect, hence rendering the quotations plagiarized.

    I am not trying to rationalize anything done over at UNC. It is unbelievable that a student athlete would think that paper should be turned in. It is amazing that a tutor looked at this and did anything but return it to McAdoo and informed him that would not be acceptable. I am just of the belief that they will get punished for what they have done and, as a State fan, I don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about them. I would rather look forward to our pending successes. And I chose not to worry about embellishing their transgressions. That’s all.

  15. JeremyH 07/16/2011 at 5:12 PM #

    This is like asking if Phyllis Dillar’s vajayjay is broken. It’s not that its “broken”, but rather it just hasn’t been used to intended purpose for quite some time.

  16. State Fan 07/16/2011 at 6:59 PM #

    JeremyH is here on SFN for extended engagement.
    Funny, but a scary mental image.

  17. choppack1 07/16/2011 at 8:16 PM #

    VAWolf is right here. The issue isn’t the honor court, rather it’s the executive leadership of the school.

    The AD and general counsel essentially got up in front of the NCAA and advocated for a student saying he did he’s own work without validating it first.

    This is HUGE when you are supposed to be “self-investigating”. It shows you didn’t investigate anything – and you failed in your fiduciary duty. Simply put – you have proven that you cannot be trusted. And it’s one thing if you’re the video coordinator or a player pulling this crap – its’ quite another when you are the AD and General Counsel.

    When the leadership at UNC-Ch took the reigns to investigate the charges of cheating – it wasn’t supposed to do what was best for the player, the football program or even UNC-Ch – it was supposed to diligently attempt to find the truth. Obviously, they failed tremendously – and should be called to the carpet accordingly. If this was a publically held company – and Baddour and the General Counsel had testified the same to improper accounting principals – they’d rightfully going to jail.

    The good news for them is that I don’t think this bothers the NCAA at all.

  18. Old MacDonald 07/16/2011 at 8:28 PM #

    “While it was not publicized much, I did hear that the initial grade was a F.”

    Where did you hear that?

    “I am not clear that the honor court specified whether they punished him for outside help or that the citations were incorrect, hence rendering the quotations plagiarized.”

    I think it is pretty well-established that the honor court punished him for getting too much help on the cite forms. The cut and paste plagiarism was only discovered when McAdoo’s attorneys included the paper as an exhibit. Until then, everyone associated with the University contended over and over that McAdoo’s paper was his original work/thoughts and that he just got help with the cite forms — hence UNC and McAdoo’s argument that he was punished too severely.

    How could Baddour and the UNC attorney claim it was all his work if the honor court had nailed him for the blatant cut and pasting? They didn’t. Nobody read it, or if they read it they passed it through without reporting the obvious, brazen plagiarism. This idea that the honor court was only charged with looking at the cite forms is very thin — the cites are in question so therefore nobody even read the paper? Mmmmmmkay.

  19. fullmoon1 07/16/2011 at 8:59 PM #

    I don’t think the only issue is proper citation but the fact that the tutor did a little to much of the paper. I am pretty sure it is supposed to be your own work, not the product of a tutor/nanny.

  20. hball57 07/16/2011 at 10:39 PM #

    Old Mac:

    I heard that on one of the endless conversations with Greg Barnes (Inside Carolina). BTW there is a reason you hear him as much as you do. When Taylor Zarzour’s show was based in Raleigh, Inside Carolina paid for the weekly hour that Greg Barnes appeared.

  21. IamGumbyDammit 07/17/2011 at 12:01 AM #

    “While it was not publicized much, I did hear that the initial grade was a F.”

    I agree wit Old Mac – the grade was NOT an F – the class was summer ’09 and McAD’oh! wasn’t brought before honor court until Fall ’10. It didn’t take that long to get through the process – it was the tutor’s emails that revealed the plagiarism, well after the fact. The “He initially got an F” or “the professor took him to Honor Court” lines are both UNX Homer bullshit lies, like everything else they say. I arrove at that conclusion long ago.

  22. tuckerdorm1983 07/17/2011 at 6:44 AM #

    you know I am beginning to feel a little sorry for McAdoo. He was stupid to do what he did. He was likely very arrogant. He seems to be a pawn in the process where he is ultimately thrown under the bus. Everybody was looking out for themselves and nobody looked out for him. If he had been truly looked after this might not have happened. If a legitimate tutor had read his paper they might have said “Micheal you can’t turn this in. Go back and write something yourself”.
    In the end he was sold a fake bill of goods and lead down the wrong path. In the cold light of day he probably sees that now. He is learning a very hard lesson in life and maybe in the long run that will be very valuable to him. In the end it is time for Butch to go.

  23. ryebread 07/17/2011 at 9:06 AM #

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m typically not a N&O conspiracy theorist. At the same time, three things jumped out as themes to me when I read this article.

    1) Shame on those NC State messageboard fans who found this. It was almost apologetic to UNC that the cheating got outed. I can’t remember a scenario where the people that blew the whistle in such a fashion were featured as prominently. The shame here is that the N&O even mentioned it.

    2) Thorp needs to go. I’ve thought this for a while, but for him to be as bold as to say that he still thinks that reinstatement is correct, all that I can say is wow. He clearly puts athletics over academics and integrity. What message does that send to his students? Cheating is okay — just don’t get caught? If I were a UNC alum, then I’d want him gone.

    3) Expulsion from the school would be what any other student would get in this situation — especially given that the situation went public. They’re playing with kid gloves with McAdoo because he has enough to bury them all — Butch, Baddour AND Thorpe.

  24. TruthBKnown Returns 07/17/2011 at 9:22 AM #

    ryebread, that was spot on.

    And I will add something to it. Not only is everything you said the truth, but they are also offering McAdoo a JOB. That is powerful circumstantial evidence that they know McAdoo could bury them if he wanted. They can’t give him hush money, but they can keep him in school when he should be out, and they can even give him a job.

    The worst part about this is that the local media WILL NOT do what investigative reporters should do. They should be writing all kinds of scathing articles and calling them out for this. But they just give them a free pass. It’s unbelievable. I really feel like a lone wolf howling in the wind. It’s a helpless feeling. And no one even cares.

  25. TruthBKnown Returns 07/17/2011 at 9:49 AM #

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