A damaging report sheds light on bigger issue

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 05:38 AM

A much-anticipated report regarding academic issues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed a much bigger problem.

Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin delivered his report to the UNC Board of Trustees and continued to put a black-eye on issues at UNC-Chapel Hill.

But, from the time the story once came out that there were questions regarding grade tampering and other academic irregularities, the story was treated as if it were an athletic scandal.

The story started to roll after the academic transcript of former football star Julius Peppers surfaced and it was discovered that Peppers earned high grades in his African studies classes, but poor grades in the rest of his classes.

An earlier probe, according to The Associated Press, showed that more than 50 courses at the school had instructors that didn't teach, grades that were changed or, forged faculty signatures on grade reports.

The entire scandal led to the departure of head football coach Butch Davis and the resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp.

But, Thursday's report sheds light on the scandal that carries it well beyond an athletic issue.

It was reported that the academic issues within the African studies department dated back to 1997 and involved its former chairman and a department administrator — both of whom have retired.

The report said that neither Davis, nor any other member of the UNC athletic department had any knowledge of the issues.

But still, the story continued to be an athletic scandal and not what it really is ... an academic scandal.

In the words of Martin: "This was not an athletic scandal. It was an academic scandal, which is worse ..."

Whatever the motive was to make the changes in grades, the fact of the matter is that it is simply wrong.

It is unfair to the students who did do the work in their classes to make high marks.

It is unfair to the rest of the UNC faculty who do operate above-board and without incident.

It is even unfair to the unknown number of students who had their grades changed. The old saying goes "You don't learn anything by cheating."

In an attempt to move past this scandal, we hope that UNC-Chapel Hill and, indeed, the entire university system learns from this and takes corrective action to do its best to make sure it does not happen again.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark