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UNC graduate ‘really feels the sting’ of his AFAM minor

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“It means to make amends, to right your wrong. It’s an attempt to put the person back into the condition they would have been if the wrong had not occurred,” said Dykers, who graduated from UNC in 1995.

Dykers wants the University to make him whole; as he says, UNC has wronged him — and he wants it righted. The Wainstein report, released a year ago today, detailed extensive academic fraud in the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies, which Dykers minored in.

Dykers, a Carrboro-based lawyer, made the decision to remove his minor from his resume after the release of the Wainstein report.

Wainstein’s report concluded that from 1993 to 2011, the University offered fraudulent classes within the AFAM department.

Though he never took an illegitimate class, Dykers said he took a class with Julius Nyang’oro, who oversaw some of the fraudulent classes, the report concludes.

“You know, there was all this talk about these bogus classes where no work was done, but that class was actually challenging,” Dykers said. “What was happening was there was a fairly large group of football players, and I could tell they were clowning and not concerned. And I was a dean’s list student, and I knew that it was difficult and they had more to lose than I did, and I immediately knew something was up.”

But the evidence of his hard work on his resume — the listing of his minor — is overshadowed by the scandal that is now synonymous with the former department.

Dykers said once he removed his minor from his resume, he felt his job search process become easier, prompting his decision to appeal. He said UNC should let degree holders take new classes if they choose.

“The school acknowledges wrongdoing and disrepute. The school has fired people, and it has changed the name of the program. You don’t change the name of a program unless it has suffered disrepute,” he said.

The more than 70 reforms UNC lists as proof of progress from the scandal ignore the people most affected by the scandal, he said.

“Of course we need things in place to make sure professors aren’t giving 300 independent study classes a year. You want a pat on the back for that?” Dykers said.

Provost Jim Dean said UNC has been focused on specific students who were in the irregular classes. He said no offer has been made toward degree holders like Dykers who never took an irregular class.

“For students who are in that situation, we feel we have a responsibility to make it right for them, and we have reached out and done that,” he said.

Only some students have inquired about it, and to Dean’s knowledge, no one has taken UNC up on the offer.

Dykers said the students who took the paper classes haven’t suffered as much as the AFAM degree holders who never took irregular classes.

“I don’t see them as innocent frankly, for lack of a better term, as I do people like myself who never took any bogus classes, and that’s the only group that has been offered any kind of reconciliation from the school,” he said. “All I’m asking them to do is extend that same offer to people like myself — it’s the person that has to go and put it on their resume that really feels the sting.”

Dean said Dykers is the only degree holder who hasn’t taken an irregular class that is seeking amends.

“I certainly respect his point of view,” he said.

Dykers said his decision not to speak up while he was a student is what makes him passionate about the issue now.

“That class was easily the best preparation I had for law school. You hear all this talk about ‘paper classes’ — that was a paper class, but no one was writing it for me.”

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Dean said he is proud to have the department at UNC.

“To look back now and say that the department is somehow unworthy because of one professor teaching courses at one period of time, and that means anybody that has a degree from that department is somehow harmed — I just can’t get there,” he said.

Dykers would rather not sue his alma mater, but he thinks he could build a case on breach of duty and negligence.

“I love the University. I do not want to fight the University; I want to work with the University. I want the integrity of the University to be restored fully,” he said.

“I don’t think that can occur until there are actions taken to make whole the students who have suffered the most disrepute.”