By Professor Doom
A few essays back I mentioned the bogus courses scandal at UNC. Compared to much of the fraud going on in higher education, the claim that there are utterly bogus courses going on even in “good” schools like UNC hardly rates.
But, a whistleblower insists it’s a problem, and it’s been going on for years, especially for courses created especially for the sportsball players on campus.
Now, most everyone knows about the bogus courses for athletes, they’ve been around for years. Thing is, any institution that is determined to have a winning team (and they all are determined to have a winning team) has no choice but to offer (exceptionally) bogus courses for athletes. Let’s go over what is obvious to anyone in the industry here:
1) Offer bogus courses, and now your institution has access to top tier athletes that can’t handle even the watered down dubious courses “legitimate” institutions offer. This gives an advantage to the team.
2) Even if you have good student athletes (and, honest, it can happen), by steering them to bogus courses those athletes spend less time studying and more time practicing sportsball. Again, having your entertainers practice more gives an advantage.
Despite the bleeding obvious here, UNC decided to double down in a spectacularly corrupt way. They claim that the bogus courses don’t indicate athletic fraud, since the bogus courses weren’t just for athletes. Their claim is UNC is really just an academic fraud, no different than any other institution. The NCAA is satisfied with this explanation, and accreditation totally doesn’t care if schools give completely bogus courses, so it’s all well and good.
Seriously, higher education is just that messed up. Administrators would gladly sacrifice all academics just to protect a sportsball team.
Ordinarily, I would be content to simply point and laugh at the antics of administration, but they also engaged in a bit of character assassination of the whistleblower involved, who insists that it was athletes taking these courses. All it would take is one athlete to come forward to back up her claims, and we could determine if it was indeed the whistleblower with low character, or if it was the administration.
It sure didn’t take long for an athlete to come forward. All hail Rashad McCants. The first three paragraphs of what McCantshas to say are worthy of consideration:Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.
At the risk of repeating myself too much, allow me to point out the takeaway from paragraph one:
First, this scam went on for at least ten years. Totally bogus courses, devoid of content or effort required, for over a decade, and no regulator noticed the fraud. But what of accreditation? People outside the industry think accreditation checks to see that schools are legitimate, but no…accreditation is bogus in this regard. I promise you, there are schools throughout the country charging tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for utterly bogus coursework, and accreditation has no way of knowing.
I conjecture that accreditation doesn’t even care about all the bogus schools/courses (since accreditation is run by the same people running the institutions), but that’s opinion on my part. The fact remains the same: accreditation has no means to determine if a school/course is bogus. Only a whistleblower can shed even a glimmer of light of the immense fraud of higher education.
Any whistleblower that does so is removed, one way or another.
Anyway, the bogus course scam had been running for over a decade, and nobody cared.McCants told "Outside the Lines" that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the "paper class" system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn't require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.
Much like I said above, a school that gives bogus courses to its student (sic) athletes has a huge advantage over legitimate schools. Pretty much any school with a winning team is suspect and should be examined closely (and, almost certainly, shut down as a school…they can keep their sportsball teams functioning, that’s fine).
Any school with a losing team should be given a choice: either shut down the sportsball programs, or shutdown the school (and, again, keep the sportsball teams).
You might think the fixes I propose in the previous two paragraphs are extreme, but realize UNC is more than willing to throw all their academics under a bus in order to save their sportsball programs…I suspect administrators at other schools feel the same way. Google “a football town with a drinking problem” and see with your own eyes how many schools that phrase applies to.
Courses where you need only submit one paper are actually more rigorous than many courses I’ve seen with my own eyes on campus (and, hell, I took a graduate level education course where all I had to so was submit one paper—submit, not necessarily write)…the only thing that makes it bad here is that the papers weren’t written by the students.
That’s how messed up higher education is.
But wait, there’s no reason to suspect any papers are written by students, as I’ve shown already, and that’s not just for the bogus courses at UNC.
McCants also told "Outside the Lines" that he even made the dean's list in the spring of 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades.
Gee, really? Dean’s List, for a guy like this? Were all his courses in the white-people-are-evil department (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? It’s a shame reporters aren’t looking into obvious questions about that department. There are many obvious questions in higher education nobody seems to ask, however.
Still, what of UNC’s claims that it was “only” engaging in academic fraud, and not “just” athletic” fraud? The article answers that, but doesn’t connect the dots:
A copy of McCants' university transcript, labeled "unofficial" and obtained by "Outside the Lines," shows that in his non-African-American Studies classes, McCants received six C's, one D and three F's. In his African-American Studies classes, 10 of his grades were A's, six B's, one a C and one a D. The UNC registrar's office declined to send McCants an official, signed transcript because of a May 2005 hold on its release. According to the UNC athletic department, McCants had university property that had never been returned.
All those C’s are hints—a C on campus nowadays is a straight up F from a few decades ago. Please understand, faculty that fail students tend to get fired; only a few faculty are in a position to be able to afford to fail a student, so they hand out C’s instead.
“Unofficial” means very little on a transcript, it just means the transcript has come from the person involved, and not directly from the institution (although some sleazeball institutions will simply open official transcripts in an unofficial manner, screwing over applicants who have no chance to defend against such skullduggery). Unless McCants has impressive skills in document forgery, I’m willing to take what is said here at face value.
Doing so, shock of shocks, shows that administration is lying. The transcript clearly shows something odd is going on in the white-people-are-evil department. Note that last sentence of the excerpt: the character assassination of McCants has already begun. An institution willing to sacrifice all academics to save sportsball programs will gladly sacrifice an alumnus as well.
We’ll look more at this next time.
If someone is willing to knowingly pay for a course that is not very good or even for the opportunity to play the student role on occasion (going to class once in a while, meeting one's so-called classmates and professors, doing easy coursework or getting others to do it as part of the "course", etc.), that's OK. People are paying for all kinds of odd things. If someone is misled into taking such a course when s/he really wanted a serious course, there is a problem. However, I don't see why one should not be able to knowingly choose a so-called bogus course. If someone is willing to pay, it must obviously meet a need. If a so-called student really does not learn anything, regular employers will notice or the required skills don't have much to do with the course. However, athletes may not even have such concerns. They may never need a regular job.ReplyDelete
I tend to agree with you, people should totally be allowed to do even incredibly stupid things with their money. On the other hand, should I be forced to loan money to a "student" so he can buy a bogus course? Should tax dollars also be forcibly taken from me to build a public institution selling bogus courses, which I also pay for?Delete
UNC is a public institution; it's your tax dollars paying for a bogus institution with bogus students taking bogus courses. I think it's reasonable to complain about that, and to ask that things change.
But bogus courses don't necessarily cost more than serious courses. They may even cost less.Delete
I have to concede considerable confusion here. Suppose a legitimate course costs $1,000.Delete
Based on this price, how much money should be forcibly taken from me to allow a student to go into debt for a bogus courses at a bogus institution? Is $500 stolen from me at gunpoint for this purpose fair to you?
I just don't understand how price factors into this, from a moral point of view...
My assumption is that everybody who wants a degree should be able to get one. If the degree is a total joke, the student will suffer the consequences (such as not getting a job) or the student just needs a piece of paper (for instance, because the student's future is otherwise secure but a degree is practically a must nowadays).Delete
You seem to assume that the student would just go away instead of taking other courses and perhaps costing the taxpayer more money by failing and retaking courses. Then, instead of a joke degree, the student may end up with no degree at all. Isn't it better to get the degree the easy way?
And again, I'm confused. Everyone who wants a degree can already get one, there are loads of sites that will sell degrees for a couple hundred bucks right now.Delete
Since you accept that joke degrees are fine, and you can already get those...why is it morally OK to forcibly take money from me to get a more expensive joke degree?
Because of the difference between some online scam and what looks like a legitimate degree from a recognized institution of higher education. It's the recognition that matters. I'm not showing the "certificates" I earned on the Babbel.com site even though I'm really taking their language lessons seriously and the courses are not free. If Harvard provided bogus degrees for bogus courses, they would still be worth much more than the Babbel certificates or scam online degrees.Delete
Heh, I guess there's just no way to get the idea across here. Ah well.Delete
It has been apparent for some time that the Powers That Be want the legal right to import endless numbers of low-wage workers into the US to replace virtually everyone.ReplyDelete
Due to the internet and blogs, journalists have seen their job prospects and earning power diminished. Because it affects their pocket books and their bottom lines, journalists are very aware that lower-cost competitors are crushing the market for their skills (such as they are).
Yet these same journalists seem to be ignorant of the fact that these economic realities affect Americans who are construction workers, restaurant workers, and STEM workers.
Which is why I am not sad to see the profession of ‘journalist’ go the way of typesetter. They are, by and large, worthless SOB’s.
Hey, I'm something of a journalist myself; I used to earn $1000 a month freelancing, decades ago. Now I'm lucky if I break $30 in a month.Delete
That said, I don't understand how "journalism" is an actual degree program on many campuses...I can do as well as most journalists without any such slip of paper.