The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday June 4th

Andrew Powell to host student panel on academic scandal

Student Body President Andrew Powell said he wanted the discussion to address student concerns in the aftermath of independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein’s findings.

The 136-page report detailed two decades of academic fraud, including the existence of paper classes and bogus independent studies.

“What’s so important at this time is that the issues raised during the report don’t become divisive issues but instead, that we can come together as a student body, discuss the things that are troubling, concerning or important to us and ultimately move forward as a more united and more cohesive student body,” he said.

Kyle Villemain, student body vice president, said questions from students attending the event will guide the discussion. The panel will include several UNC student-athletes.

“Tomorrow I hope to offer a current student-athlete’s opinion on the report and hope to provide insight into the ways current athletes, who had nothing to do with the academic irregularities of the past, are being affected,” panelist member and diver Kelly Corish said in an email.

Sagar Shukla, a senior economics major and non-athlete panelist, said he is concerned about the report’s findings.

“I felt that it was quick to point out one scapegoat, and it didn’t really go into depth about what exactly all the infractions were and who all was involved in the whole issue,” Shukla said.

The discussion comes after Powell listened to students’ concerns Tuesday in the Pit. He said that there was a wide spectrum of student reactions but that it’s important to remember that past misconduct doesn’t define the current student body.

In an email sent to the student body Friday, Powell noted that of 9 million credit hours, only 9,000 were awarded from illegitimate classes.

“Something I felt pretty strong about is reiterating that this academic scandal does not define our university, and that it certainly does not define our current students,” Powell said.

The panel will focus mainly on students’ concerns, but the administration and faculty are invited to hear the conversation.

Powell said the panel will relay concerns raised to all levels of the University administration.

Student government leaders have faced additional challenges serving in the wake of academic fraud. Powell said the issue has made his job more hectic.

“My role is to be a representative of the student body and to serve the student body, and I feel this time — as much as any — it’s important for me to just try and attend to the needs and interests of the students,” he said.

Powell will moderate the discussion, which he and Villemain agreed will provide a platform for students to share their opinions.

“At the end of the day, it’s about taking these issues and talking about how it really affects us,” Villemain said.

“And not how Sports Illustrated wants to talk about it, or ESPN wants to talk about it, or The New York Times wants to talk about it but how students want to talk about it.”


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