Iti Madan, a counsel for the Attorney General's staff, said she thinks these numbers come from a systematic problem that starts before college. She said that students of color coming to UNC might not understand the rules as well because they have fewer resources.
“I think that the level of preparedness for college is the main determining factor ... so that’s not something that we can kind of control,” she said.
Faculty Council minutes posted on a UNC site state that Davidson said he is “concerned that there may be a lack of empathy from some faculty members and a reluctance to accept minor mistakes that students make.”
Davidson declined to comment further on his statement.
Undergraduate Attorney General Frank Jiang said these numbers may be inaccurate because of how easily demographic data can be misinterpreted. He noted the evasive definition of students of color and those students who do not provide a racial identification as potential causes of misinterpretation.
Jiang acknowledges non-white students face different life experiences, but did not want to comment on how this relates to the Honor System.
“I understand that American non-white students face, in their daily lived experiences, different cultural upbringings, institutional racism and implicit biases formed by repeated narratives surrounding their identities,” he said.
Madan also said that she has seen a number of international students involved in these academic cases. She said the reason may be because they do not know the difference between plagiarizing and writing in one’s own words because they do not have an expansive vocabulary in English.
She said she has never had a case in which the student felt they were racially profiled.
“I have full faith in the instructors and professors here at UNC that they would not see a student as lesser or less capable of doing an assignment without cheating or plagiarizing just because they are a student of color,” Madan said.
Aisha Pridgen, director of student conduct, said in fall 2015 a number of workshops were held, including one with the Center for Student Success Academic Counseling, on “how to consider and connect race/ethnicity ... in the context of an Honor Code violation.”
Madan said more needs to be done to ingrain a culture of integrity.
“We need to better prepare everyone.”