UNC professor Jay Smith was outspoken during the UNC academic fraud scandal and has not let up. His latest comments are in the Wall Street Journal. There’s nothing particularly new. It’s really more of a rehash of his previous arguments - but it’s worth reading. He’s been a valuable critic of what happened at UNC and the university should pay more attention to him.
That said, there are two points we’d like to make about his column.
First, UNC athletics used the African and Afro- American Studies (since renamed) to keep athlete’s GPAs up. Smith might have added that had UNC treated that department with the same rigor all other departments faced, the scandal might have been avoided altogether.
Julius Nyang’oro was allowed to remain chairman for an exceptionally long time and the department was not properly supervised nor was it taken seriously. It’s a casual form of racism that one wouldn’t expect from a liberal bastion like UNC.
Secondly, when he says this - Before we “put the ‘college’ back in college basketball,” we need to get academic values back into college - he might consider buttressing it with a serious look at what passes for education these days. There is a sense of repression on many campuses, including UNC and Duke, and many people no longer feel free to speak their minds or to be honest. In too many cases, the concept of a liberal arts education has become distinctly illiberal if not downright intolerant, and that’s a very great pity.
No one in pursuit of knowledge should be forced to conform to anyone else’s beliefs.