Faux Courses The Norm

by Bernie Reeves

The Bloomberg Business Week piece might as well have been written on Mars. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill does have problems of great magnitude, but they are hardly related to the historical reference cited that buildings constructed on the campus of the nation’s first public university were built by slaves, as if the founders possessed the modern-day white guilt on display today by the bien pensants, the media, government agencies and the education sector. And while the unfolding athletic department scandal at UNC-Chapel Hill  has inevitably involved race, the real story is about the sorry state of UNC’s  academic identity and  its questionable status  as one of the top public universities in the U.S.

The style of the article about UNC’s current woes is indicative of the baleful state of the school’s underlying inadequacies. The current controversy swirls around a professor who created phony classes in African-American and African Studies allegedly attended by money-sports black athletes. Turns out the classes never met, but high grades were recorded for those who signed up and never attended a class, took a test, or wrote a paper. The department chairman who cooked up the faux courses, with the assistance from his staff and encouragement from tutors and administrators from the Department of Athletics, paid himself anyway. The local county district attorney has brought charges against him and, under a new and never used statute in the purview of the North Carolina Department of State, the probe has expanded to examine of the efficacy of courses taught in the entire school.

It is at this juncture the real issue is exposed. African-American and African Studies (AFAM) is dismayingly similar to an array of courses offered in Chapel Hill’s School of Arts and Sciences with similar victimization and group identity politics, including Queer, Transgender, Women’s, and Diaspora Studies. The athletes chose the African theme because most of them are black, not because other courses in this category are more difficult. The truth is, the radicalized curriculum in vogue today has little content and minimal standards of scholarship, just like the AFAM offerings.

Athletes have been taking crip courses at sports-oriented colleges since the 1890s. The problem today is not that these courses exist. The scandal is they are the norm.