Federal complaint filed over UNC’s ‘paper courses’
A Durham-based student-athletes rights organization has filed a federal complaint against the University of North Carolina over so-called “paper courses” at the college.
The Student Athletes Human Rights Project alleges in its complaint to the federal Office for Civil Rights that UNC athletes – particularly black males – were shuttled into classes in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies that never met and only required a term paper at the end of the semester.
The Student Athletes Human Rights Project was established in 2011 by Emmett L. Gill, an assistant professor at N.C. Central University’s Department of Social Work in Durham.
The complaint cites records indicating that 18 of 19 students enrolled in an AFAM course in 2011 were active football players. The other was a former football player. It also notes that UNC conducted an internal review of an upper-level course in the department in summer 2007.
“Records show that of 41 enrollments in the class, 22 were student athletes,” the complaint states. “Other records show that football and basketball players made up a majority of the enrollments in at least nine paper classes.”
It also mentions a UNC faculty report from 2013 that indicated an unidentified “departmental staff manager” within AFAM “may have directed athletes to enroll in the no-show classes, and that ‘it seems likely’ someone in the department was calling counselors for athletes to tell them ‘certain courses’ were available.”
A report by Mary Willingham, a former athletic counselor, showed that male UNC student-athletes took 199 hours of paper courses, compared to 38 for female student-athletes.
“This disparity is an indicator that male UNC student-athletes are not provided with the same educational opportunities, including quality of education, as female student-athletes,” the complaint states. “Further, this information suggests that male UNC student athletes are not provided with the same treatment and services, including course advising, as female UNC student-athletes.”
Officials at UNC Chapel Hill on Monday wouldn’t comment on the complaint.
“The university has not received any information from the OCR about a complaint regarding this issue,” said Karen Moon, director of UNC News Services.
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