The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 19th

UNC has no plan for 81 degrees in question yet

The paper classes in the department boosted 81 students’ grade point averages to the necessary 2.0 to graduate, according to the findings of the Wainstein Report.

“Each paper class grade increased a student’s GPA, on average, by approximately .03 grade points,” the report said.

Rick White, associate vice chancellor for communications, said the University will consult its accrediting agency — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — before taking action against the 81 graduates.

“We’re considering options on these matters and are working closely with SACS to evaluate possible courses of action,” he said by email.

Belle Wheelan, the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said she has not yet read the Wainstein report, but said the group will take the necessary actions to evaluate UNC’s accreditation.

“What we will do is we will read the report and check it against our principles,” she said. “If there are things in the report that suggest the University is out of compliance with our principles, we will ask the University to send a report back to show what they are going to get back in compliance.”

The association has core values upon which they base their accreditation. The 804 institutions under its jurisdiction normally go through a reaffirmation process every 10 years with a midway report during the fifth year. These reports are typically reviewed twice a year, but Wheelan said the Wainstein report might necessitate a special review of UNC.

“A 77-person board normally reads in December and June, but we would possibly do a special report for UNC’s new circumstance,” she said.

At other universities, cheating and illegitimate academic course work has historically led to the revocation of degrees.

A cheating scandal in 2001 at the University of Virginia lost three students their degrees. The students were caught in a massive plagiarism investigation in physics professor Louis Bloomfield’s class.

“Academic misconduct and fraud is part of a much bigger problem facing higher education, and the more I pull at the threads of that problem, the more the proverbial sweater unravels,” said Bloomfield in an email statement.

Freshman Selena Zhang believes it’s fair for the degrees to be revoked.

“I do think it’s right that they take back those degrees because they didn’t deserve those extra grades,” Zhang said. “It’s not fair to the other students that are here and work hard.”

Freshman Ariana Rivens said the University should allow the students to retake classes in order to get their degrees reinstated.

“Seeing as it was something that went over the students’ heads, I don’t think it’s fair to say that everything you did at Carolina should be discredited,” said Rivens. “There should be a partnership to rectify the problem.”

In the meantime, the University is waiting on a letter from its accrediting agency with the results of its review.

From that point, the University will either be placed on warning, on probation or dropped from membership.

“Right now UNC is a fully accredited institution, and until the board has acted upon it, nothing has changed,” Wheelan said.


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