Vincas P. Steponaitis: Unhelpful hype

January 21, 2014 

I was stunned by your Jan 19 editorial “Heels tarred.” For months, The N&O has been raking UNC over the coals for allegedly not getting its facts right in the Jim Martin review, one of many initiatives the university has undertaken to fix the serious problems that came to light in the recent athletic and academic scandals.

So what happens next? The N&O publishes and hypes Mary Willingham’s allegations to CNN, which are said to be based on test scores, without doing much in the way of checking their validity or even taking a “wait and see” approach. When UNC shows that the data behind the allegations are wrong, your editorial board responds by saying, in essence, “Who cares if the data are wrong? We know UNC is guilty anyway.” The outright hypocrisy in this stance is breathtaking.

Right now, I think it’s The N&O that should do some soul-searching. UNC has come a long way since the scandals broke, and there’s still work to be done. But the only way the university will make progress is to base its reforms on solid data, not preconceptions and hype.

Vincas P. Steponaitis

Professor of Anthropology, UNC-Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill

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