Kenneth Wainstein’s report on academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill is heartbreaking. My alma mater has failed our state, and the entire Carolina community will endure that shame and disappointment.
There have been moments in which I have wondered whether this whole spectacle has cheapened my degree. I have concluded that my degree is cheapened only if I fail to live out the values that were instilled in me during my Carolina experience.
In 2008, UNC-Chapel Hill took this fairly good student from Eastern North Carolina and pushed me to work harder than I ever had. I am grateful for how often my professors reminded us of the sentiment made famous by Bill Friday: That we were at Carolina on the taxpayer’s dime, and we owed something to those taxpayers, especially those who could not afford to send their own children to Carolina. On graduation day, I was a deeper thinker, a more informed citizen and better equipped to handle the challenges ahead of me.
Some in our community violated the ideal of being the “university of the people.” Carolina has the capacity to grow from this and for that reason I can claim my Tar Heel identity with pride.