Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wainstein Report On UNC AFAM Scandal Released

   Whelp, that was ******* painful...
   Two people in one department gave Carolina a black eye that will take years to go away. [Actually: some advisers were in on this too.]  
   Fortunately, men's hoops was not implicated. Unfortunately, our despicable neighbors in Raleigh and Durham will keep yakking about this for years to come. On the bright side, few other universities would have been so willing to dig down into the depths of their athletic programs...  On the not-bright-side, what was revealed was not particularly pretty.
   Sadly, Jan Boxill comes off looking really bad in all of this. I know her personally, and she's a great person, and I'm sad to see her coming off so badly. And what looks like her engaging in special pleading for athletes is actually consistent with her general policy of compassion for all students... Professors often have such discussions with each other...here's this student...there are special circumstances x, y, and z...technically I should give them an n...what do you think?  I'm not condoning her actions, but it's very, very common for professors to be lenient in their grading...it's not something limited to athletics. [Also: the notorious email was about helping a former athlete graduate, not keeping a current athlete eligible. So that's something.]
   But, at least this was all on the not-terribly-awful side, men's hoops was largely exonerated, and we can get on with the business of whupping some butt on the hardwood.
   In general, I'm very much against politicized, boutique courses and departments like AFAM...but I'll let that go for the time being...

   Here, incidentally, is the Wainstein report. And big props to Kenneth Wainstein for taking on this unenviable task--and props to Carolina for hiring him.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My own institution, while not having anything rigged for athletes specifically, has repeatedly sent professors and instructors emails kindly reminding us to keep people moving through the system: "Do not lower grading standards. But do not fail anyone, either." And yes, that's a real quote, sent from our department chair at the behest of the administration. So, rather than sell our souls for athletes, we've decided to sell our soul for everyone equally. I'm frankly not sure what's worse, an isolated incident, or our situation normal. Retention is down, thus we'll just start selling degrees like any other commodity--it really makes me sick, but I digress...

In other news, I'd like to hear why you're opposed to departments like the Africana Studies one implicated at UNC? I'd submit that it isn't ideal to have such "boutique" departments, but their existence seems to be a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. If more philosophers took Africana Philosophy seriously, for example, then perhaps people like Douglass and Du Bois might get taught along Peirce and Dewey in courses in "American Philosophy." As it stands, however, the canon that is "American Philosophy" doesn't usually include non-white thinkers. Of course, when asked about this, nobody will say (and perhaps nobody even thinks) that they're not accepted canonical figures because they're black, but because they're "not philosophers." Given that reality, where else is one to study the history of that side of American thought?

9:21 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Hey, A. You make good points. I'm not opposed to things like AFAM per se, though I am generally opposed to disciplines with political goals, and even more critical of disciplines in which things like postmodernism, poststructuralism, and critical theory have taken over as the reigning orientation. I think that women's studies, for example, tends to be kind of an intellectual disaster for these reasons.

Being the sort of standard-issue old-school liberal that I am, it's hard for me to get over the view that everything ought to be color blind...so I can never be ecstatic about e.g. AFAM...but I do see it as a lesser evil. But you make a good point--if the standard disciplines made more of an effort in the relevant respect, disciplines like AFAM would be less necessary.

Personally, I tend to pick topics and readings for my classes on a completely color-blind, sex-blind basis--but perhaps I could reconsider that policy...

10:01 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home