Those three men all saw their jobs claimed by the inevitable trickle of information, most of which emerged against the will of the University.
The piece that opened Pandora’s box, the revelation that a football player had gotten away with plagiarism in one of Nyang’oro’s classes, came out only because that player was also suing UNC.
See a trend?
I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the University has done everything in its power to keep information about its shortcomings from reaching the public view. Like every organization, it believes it could function better if given total control of information. I understand that.
But UNC has a rather hefty obligation to the public who subsidize it. The University sometimes seems oblivious of this responsibility.
For example, 357 days ago, I requested a series of public records from the University — the grade distributions of every African and Afro-American Studies class for the last five academic years. (Keep in mind, this was just two months after Nyang’oro’s resignation, and six months before UNC’s own full, damning report on the department.)
I was expecting the request to take a few months — it was, admittedly, large.
But as the request and I prepare to celebrate our one-year anniversary, I have to admit to myself that when it is filled, the data therein will be largely useless. (My only comfort being an assurance that my request is being “processed.”)
I don’t want to generalize here, but this case is, in my opinion, representative of a larger trend. That is the University’s prohibitive bureaucracy, the iron character of which would make Kafka curl up into a ball.
N.C. public records law requires that records’ custodians comply with requests “as promptly as possible.” And while I don’t doubt that our public records office is understaffed, that excuse sounds a lot like being asked to run a mile in gym class, then tying your shoelaces together and insisting that you’ll run it “as promptly as possible.”
As long as taxpayers are paying for the University to keep its doors open, it must be responsive.
The Daily Tar Heel and seven other media outlets resorted to a lawsuit because we’re interested in enforcing a good law. If that means a costly lawsuit, then we’re more than happy to carry it out.