[author: Stephanie Mau]
No attendance required
This gives new meaning to an easy A.
The University of North Carolina has been criticized in recent years since it was revealed that they offered hundreds of Afro-American Studies classes that required no attendance and only asked students to write a single paper.
One brave whistleblower, Mary Willingham, has since come forward and blown the whistle on the university’s academic fraud. A reading specialist working at the University of North Carolina, Willingham said that these “paper classes” were intended as easy A’s for the university’s athletes in order to keep them eligible to play for the school’s teams.
She also noted that many of the papers that they submitted for these classes were plagiarized, and even revealed research that a certain number of the UNC athletes were actually reading at elementary school levels.
Investigations now being reopened
While the university admitted that the classes were unusual, they claimed that it was simply due to the actions of one rogue professor, rather than widespread academic fraud.
Nonetheless, the amount of press that Willingham’s revelations have generated has led the university to launch a new investigation into their practices. Led by a former federal prosecutor, this new investigation strives to look into 1.5 million emails and documents, talk to 30 athletic support staff, and look back into transcripts from all the way back in the 1980’s, which makes this the most extensive UNC investigation thus far.
Previously, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had neglected to launch any investigation of their own into the University of North Carolina. However, with the new information they have been given by the university’s prosecutor, they have now launched their own investigation into the academic fraud.
Whistleblower wants her job back
Back in 2013, when Willingham spoke against the university’s fraudulent practices in the local newspaper, the university retaliated by demoting her and giving her extra work. After that, when she was featured in a CNN news story regarding the troubling literacy rates at UNC, university officials started to verbally attack her.
All of this abuse led Mary Willingham to quit her job in May, but now she’s suing the university to get her original job back. Despite the hostile work environment she had to deal with, she said that she still loved working with students and wanted to return.
A whistleblower-group has recently come to her defense, arguing that the University of North Carolina should launch an investigation into the university officials’ public harassment of their lone whistleblower.
When fraud runs rampant in the workplace, whistleblowers should be protected from ostracism and unfair professional repercussions.