Graduates of the AFAM Studies Department at the University* of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say they were surprised and disheartened to learn of the academic scandal involving the department.Â This according to the N&O’s Dan Kane.Â Seems Dan sat down recently and spoke with some people who actually had to do some work to get their AFAM degrees because Grads of the UNC department say no-show courses not the norm…..
Sam Pride did not envision graduating with a degree in Afro-American Studies when he first stepped on to UNC-Chapel Hillâ€™s campus , but as the history buff from Rocky Mount searched for classes to take, an introductory course within the department quickly put him on the path.
That class, and the subsequent ones he took from the department, broadened his understanding of the world. â€œItâ€™s another retelling of history that you really donâ€™t learn,â€ said Pride, who plans to graduate in December. â€œIt just opened my eyes to a whole new world of history and possibilities.â€
â€œI worked as an undergrad,â€ said Christina DeLane, a 2006 graduate now in a Washington, D.C., law school. â€œI had papers to write, things to read, a lot of studying. It was several books in a class. This was real, and to think it wasnâ€™t real for other people is beyond me. You donâ€™t major in African and Afro-American studies to get by. UNC is a hard school.â€
â€œEveryone I talked to was shocked by it,â€ said Rob Stephens, 26, a staff member for the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and a 2009 graduate.
The graduatesâ€™ comments about the departmentâ€™s overall rigor raise more questions about who were the intended beneficiaries of the suspect courses. UNC-CH officials have said the academic fraud is not an NCAA matter because nonathletes were in the classes and were treated the same as athletes. So far, the NCAA has agreed, though other investigations into the fraud continue.
None of those interviewed said they had Nyangâ€™oro as a professor, and some of them said they do not recall meeting him during their time on campus. Jason Warner, a 2006 UNC graduate who is now a doctoral student in African and African-American studies at Harvard University, said he defended his senior thesis paper before Nyangâ€™oro and two other professors, and was impressed with the department chairman.
â€œI really remember him for his intellect and the questions he would pose to me,â€ Warner said.
He and other graduates say the small department of roughly 25 professors and instructors has top experts in their fields who are also gifted teachers. One of them, Reginald Hildebrand, was one of five professors this year to receive the universityâ€™s top undergraduate teaching award. He and other department professors, however, have declined to be interviewed about the departmentâ€™s strengths and weaknesses.
A review of syllabuses shows courses with rich topics and extensive classwork. A syllabus for a 2006 class titled The African American in Cinema required reading several books, watching more than a dozen films, producing two papers and completing two exams.
I am not going to comment except to say that my view of the significance of this mirrors that of Mr. Kane.Â Presuming factual accuracy, the fact that these grads actually had to work for their degrees strengthens the hypothesis that the existence of no show/no teach classes was for the benefit of the athletic programs by way of keeping athletes eligible for participation.
That being said, it is not lost on me that comments regarding the academic rigor of such a program and/or its overall redeeming academic value or social worth are bound to pop up.Â That’s fine, have at it.Â I’m no fan of PC and I don’t believe that debate should be off limits.
But please remember this is a public community.Â As always, if comments step over the line or become excessively inflammatory they will be edited/deleted as appropriate.
And some of you still haven’t gotten your tails over to the SFN Forums.Â You don’t know what you’re missing.