So, today’s game day! No, I don’t mean Michigan versus Michigan State, though as a tangent, two thoughts on that:
- This game seems like it is being promoted as a bigger “rivalry” game than it was in the past; maybe that’s just my impressions. And as far as I can tell, every Big Ten team really wants to beat Michigan (that was certainly the case when I was a student at Iowa).
- Given the lopsidedness of the teams this year, I’m not exactly expecting a very good game.
No, of course I’m referring to the EMU versus Northern Illinois game! Sorta. Our friends at Eagle Totem have several posts about it all, and they point out that the halftime band show is some kind of tribute to Batman. That and the beautiful weather today could make the game worthwhile, though the Emus are 21 point underdogs.
Anyway, while you’re half-watching either of these games, take a moment to read through this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education about the cheating scandal coming to light at the University of North Carolina, “Widespread Nature of Chapel Hill’s Academic Fraud Is Laid Bare.” It’s pretty startling. Basically, about 3100 students at UNC (about half of them were athletes) took these sham classes in the African and Afro-American Studies department that never actually met where students would get As or Bs for turning in one paper. And the whole thing was run by the department’s long-time secretary and the department’s chair. Here’s a long quote from the beginning of the article:
An academic-fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took root under a departmental secretary and die-hard Tar Heel fan, who was egged on by athletics advisers to create no-show classes that would keep underprepared and unmotivated players eligible. Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public universities.
Such are the sobering findings of an eight-month investigation led by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a longtime official of the U.S. Justice Department who was hired by the university to get to the bottom of a scandal that came to light four years ago.
Mr. Wainstein’s 136-page report, made public on Wednesday, lays much of the blame at the feet of Deborah Crowder, a secretary and then manager in the department of African and Afro-American studies, which is often called AFAM. Ms. Crowder worked with Julius E. Nyang’oro, who was then chairman of the department, to develop what the report calls a “shadow curriculum” that awarded students, many of them athletes, with high grades for classes that required no attendance and minimal work.
Ms. Crowder and Mr. Nyang’oro’s role in academic fraud has long been acknowledged, but the new report is the first to reveal the broad involvement of a variety of actors, including a faculty leader and other professors in the AFAM department. The investigation delves deeply into the motives of central players and provides a complex picture of Ms. Crowder, a relatively low-level operator who investigators say acted as a professor in all but name, routinely grading students’ papers and forging faculty signatures.
This went on for 18 years and it appears that it only became visible and impossible for administrators and others to ignore when Crowder retired. Yikes.
Though I have to say that I can see how this could happen and I can see how it might not really be noticed by administrators and the like. The department secretary is a powerful figure, actually. At EMU, she (and it is usually a “she”) can create special sections of courses for students, and it wouldn’t take a lot of fraud to sign off on grades and the like too. And unless someone was paying really close attention, this could go on pretty much unnoticed.
I guess what I’m saying is it wouldn’t surprise me if there were other universities besides UNC where some slightly crooked faculty and administrators weren’t doing some student athletes a favor or two.