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Whistleblower: Horrible paper earns student athlete A-minus

Published On: Mar 28 2014 11:43:30 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 28 2014 11:59:33 AM CDT
Poorly written paper earns UNC Chapel Hill student A-minus

ESPN.com

A poorly written paper on Rosa Parks that a whistleblower claims earned a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student athlete an A-minus is raising eyebrows.

Former UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham shared the paper with ESPN while discussing "paper classes," courses that she and a former UNC football player told ESPN were classes that didn't really exist. They were billed as independent study time and students needed only to write a final paper to receive a grade -- usually a good grade that boosted a student's GPA so he remained eligible to participate in athletics.

The term "final paper" is up to interpretation in this case. The paper Willingham shared is a one-paragraph statement on Rosa Parks' refusal to relinquish her seat on a bus in 1955 that's chock full of errors. The entire paper reads:

"On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. 'Let me have those front seats' said the driver. She didn't get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving up her seat to white people. ' I'm going to have you arrested,' said the driver. 'You may do that,' Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and said ' I don't know, but the law is the law and you're under arrest. "

The entire system was a scam, Willingham said. She said she would see students getting A's and B's in their paper classes, then D's or F's in classes like biology or economics.

"Some of these students could read maybe at a second- or third-grade level, but really that's, for an adult, that is considered illiterate," Willingham told ESPN.

This isn't the first time this issue has come up at UNC. Two years ago, UNC was embroiled in a scandal where students received grades for classes they didn't attend, according to CNN.

Earlier this year, Willingham shared her own research with CNN that showed 60 percent of student athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill read between fourth- and eighth-grade reading levels, while between 8 and 10 percent read below a third-grade level. The school told The Associated Press her research was flawed, but Willingham stands by her analysis.

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