AFAM Grads Shocked: “We worked hard”

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.  This according to the N&O’s Dan Kane.  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 Hill’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. “It’s another retelling of history that you really don’t learn,” said Pride, who plans to graduate in December. “It just opened my eyes to a whole new world of history and possibilities.”


“I worked as an undergrad,” said Christina DeLane, a 2006 graduate now in a Washington, D.C., law school. “I 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 wasn’t real for other people is beyond me. You don’t major in African and Afro-American studies to get by. UNC is a hard school.”


“Everyone I talked to was shocked by it,” said Rob Stephens, 26, a staff member for the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and a 2009 graduate.

The graduates’ comments about the department’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 Nyang’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 Nyang’oro and two other professors, and was impressed with the department chairman.

“I really remember him for his intellect and the questions he would pose to me,” 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 university’s top undergraduate teaching award. He and other department professors, however, have declined to be interviewed about the department’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.  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.  That’s fine, have at it.  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.  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.  You don’t know what you’re missing.

About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

UNC Scandal

16 Responses to AFAM Grads Shocked: “We worked hard”

  1. fullmoon1 09/10/2012 at 4:16 AM #

    Kane is still digging I see. His follow up was the next logical progression. He really is spelling this thing out and spoon feeding it to the public as well as the NCAA. I’m not sure The holes/ncaa can keep a lid on this much longer.

  2. Wufpacker 09/10/2012 at 4:30 AM #

    My thought exactly. He’s letting out the line little by little. My curiosity is when he’s ready to yank the hook and start reeling, who the bombshell source will turn out to be who gets an attack of conscience and spills their guts.

    Oh please let that happen, God.

  3. Pack78 09/10/2012 at 6:53 AM #

    I wondered when legitimate* (couldn’t resist the asterisk!) AFAM students and grads would weigh in…how long before Kane blows up the ‘only two (Dr. Kangaroo and Crowder) rogues’ BS and exposes the athletic/academic* puppetmasters?

  4. wolfonthehill 09/10/2012 at 6:55 AM #

    Agree that this is more damning than helpful for unc-ch. If a cinema course had the level of rigor and work content described above while athletes routinely got 400-level credit and an A/B for writing a single paper (with tutor “assistance”, or wholly plagiarized) and no instruction… then the whole “it was available to the student body at large” can no longer be accepted as truth. And that was (bafflingly) the reason the NCAA said it’s not in their jurisdiction.

    So completely f’ed up. And nothing will come of it… except that unc-ch will never be able to keep another Julius Peppers (or Jerry Stackhouse) eligible.

  5. wilmwolf80 09/10/2012 at 8:00 AM #

    IMO Kane and others have handled this issue with kid gloves BECAUSE of which department it is. If this were any other liberal arts major, they would be going after it much more robustly. Unfortunately, the climate in this country is such that when it comes to race, you have to be cautious, because once the race card gets played, it’s game over.

  6. projectwentynine 09/10/2012 at 8:39 AM #

    “It’s another retelling of history that you really don’t learn,”

    Because it’s little more than warped, revisionist history that promotes manufactured victimhood and sense of entitlement through anti-white diatribe. Peddlers of this toxic nonsense seek to perpetuate the notion that we still exist in a 1960’s Birmingham-like environment of racial injustice. Race pimp time travelers. All brought to you at taxpayer expense.

  7. LifeLongWolf 09/10/2012 at 8:44 AM #

    I talked to a former U*NC athlete (non-revenue sport). He said that he was 3 credits shy of a minor in AFAM. He said all students (athletes and otherwise) knew the classes were easy. For example, one of his mid-term exams was “Match the African countries with their respective capitol cities.” Didn’t even have to memorize them, just match. That was it. He said he spent about 10 minutes studying the night before and aced it.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with taking an easy class or two each semester to balance out your hard classes. I did it, you did it, we all did. So did this guy. But I ain’t buying the notion that AFAM classes were rigorous and difficult. Maybe SOME of the upper level classes, but not all, not even most.

  8. state73 09/10/2012 at 10:00 AM #

    If real students had to work and study for grades, then this is even more damaging to unx’s stand that nothing special was done for fb and bb players. Wake up ncaa?

  9. tractor57 09/10/2012 at 2:16 PM #

    I’m not here to expound on the merits of that degree rather there obviously some special benefits given to athletes in the way the program was administered. The fact the NCAA is diverting its eyes calls into question the possibility that basketball athletes were involved with the sham classes.

  10. Hungwolf 09/10/2012 at 2:40 PM #

    Pansie Chapel Hill student said it was so hard: ” I had to write a paper and it was graded, had to go to a couple of classes before 2PM, and to get an A without doing anything a had to go to summer school. Oh what a nightmare, how hard, to actually have to do anything to get a liberal arts degree in Chapel Hill is totally abuse at the highest levels. We are like the slaves from Africa, wait they were from Africa, right? We only had to learn the countries, not the history! I’m proud of my degree! I’m the only non-black working at Church’s Chicken and I have my UNC degree to thank for that!” Frat Boy Class of 09

  11. packof81 09/10/2012 at 4:11 PM #


    Agreed. If this curriculum is _not_ bogus and the athletes were were enrolled in phony courses, thenUNC was fraudulently keeping athletes eligible. Otherwise, they have to say all the AFAM students were enrolled in a bogus curriculum, which is worse. UNC is caught between a rock and hard place.

  12. packalum44 09/10/2012 at 8:14 PM #

    I think the point of this article is to either,

    1) Mock AFAM graduates b/c, ACCORDING TO CHANCELLOR THORP, the cheating pervades the entire fucking department and was not set up to benefit athletes. Therefore, logic dictates that all students had these classes and therefore AFAM degrees in general are a joke.

    2) If premise one is incorrect, then those with “real” AFAM degrees should be outraged that the U*NC is devaluing their degree in a material way and sue for slander.

  13. highstick 09/10/2012 at 8:53 PM #

    The Harvard doctorial candidate mentions his “senior thesis”? Are research papers in your senior year of a BA/BS degree now referred to as a “thesis” now?

    That wording struck me as “odd”..

    The final course at State in an Econ undergrad degree(early 70’s) was a full semester research project, but it was referred to as a “Senior Seminar” course, not a thesis…Didn’t have a thesis in the MBA program, but I’m curious if that was just a poor choice of wording??

  14. choppack1 09/10/2012 at 9:36 PM #

    Well, if you ever doubted the validity and difficulty in earning the African American studies degree, just look at this quote:

    “It was several books in a class. “

  15. ancsu87 09/10/2012 at 11:32 PM #

    LOL choppack1!

    Tractor57 I think your on to something. The NCAA and ESPN can’t lose the Duke-UNC BB hype.

  16. ancsu87 09/10/2012 at 11:39 PM #

    I noticed that they decided to change the name to better reflect the hard effort and value of the degree from the AFAM department. Now it is called:
    Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies

    Based on the definition of Diaspora I wonder if this means they have expanded the scope of the department’s studies?

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