Voter fraud and academic fraud

UNC scandal not just about athletes; many who took ‘paper classes’ were not in sports
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post, 2014-10-24

Much has been made of irregular “paper classes”
at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
which helped numerous student-athletes score high grades
for little, if any, academic work.

But one aspect of the latest report on the scandal,
this one from investigator Kenneth L. Wainstein,
is worth a closer look:
It wasn’t just about special favors for student-athletes.

The classes, which apparently offered no teaching
and offered generous grading for term papers of dubious quality,
persisted from 1993 to 2011.
They provided more than 3,100 students with “one or more semesters of deficient instruction”
within the African and Afro-American studies department,
Wainstein reported.

Previous reports have illuminated the scandal,
which started to emerge in 2011,
but Wainstein’s is considered the most comprehensive.
It was commissioned by UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt,
who took office in 2013.

How irregular were the courses?
Wainstein reported that one “particularly popular class” was
third-level Swahili,
in which students who struggled at lower levels in the subject
were able to satisfy a foreign language requirement
“by writing a paper about Swahili culture in English
rather than completing a regular Swahili 3 class in Swahili.”

The report raises questions about how athletes were steered into these courses.
But many who took them were not athletes.
The report found that student-athletes accounted for
47.6 percent of “paper class” enrollment from 1999 to 2011.
That meant the majority were not athletes.

Who were they?

Some stumbled into the classes without knowing they were bogus.
But many sought them out.

“As with any course that offers an easy path to a high grade,
word of these classes got around,”
the report says.
Some academic advisers pointed students to them.
The report recounts an incident in which a struggling student
with an academic scholarship in a program known as Morehead-Cain scholars
was referred to a “paper class” to bolster his grade-point average
to avoid losing his grant.

Word of the classes also circulated widely within fraternities.

Two fraternity members told investigators that the classes were seen as “a ‘loophole’
in Chapel Hill’s otherwise demanding curriculum.”
These members said that
some of their non-athlete fraternity brothers took so many of the classes
that they inadvertently wound up with
minors in African and Afro-American studies.

This raises questions about how many administrators
at one of the nation’s most prestigious public universities
knew about the scandal before it broke —
or should have known.

Wainstein concluded that it is fair to criticize the university
for a failure of oversight.
But he found
“no evidence that the higher levels of the university tried in any way
to obscure the facts or the magnitude of the situation.”

[Would people willing to commit what amounts to academic fraud
in order to obtain academic credentials they had not earned
also be willing to commit voter fraud
in order to improve their political position?
Does a bear shit in the woods?]