Hidden behind the “Spontaneous Jihadi Syndrome” news are reports of fake classes put together at the University of North Carolina over a number of years, involving 3,100 or so students. In short, the purpose of these classes was to make sure that athletes, football and basketball players and the like, got grades adequate to keep playing. The instructors simply rubber-stamped grades regardless of performance.
Well, that’s bad, but there’s one bright spot: it appears from what I’ve seen that the classes offered were not those that would lead someone to post-college positions of importance. They were not engineering courses. not physics. Not medical. Not even business course. They were, instead, run through the “African-American Studies” department. A modest Googling of the news didn’t turn up specifically what these courses were, though a similar incident at Stanford a few years ago had courses such as “Beginning Improvising” and “Social Dances of North America III.”
The concept of the “Student Athlete” is one that has long been ready for mockery. Being able to run real fast, throw a ball and beat a drunk cheerleader into unconsciousness are skills largely unrelated to the skills needed to be a scholar; we’ve all known the “Ogre” with the scholarships and the minimal ability to read. The good thing here is that the “education” these yahoos apparently got would not have aided them in obtaining important work. Imagine if Boeing were to hire engineers based on “paper” engineering courses, or if your doctor showed up for classes a grand total of once, only to turn in a hastily scribbled paper. Instead, it appears likely that their degrees would have been horribly… lame. General stuff, dance analysis, the politics of race… these are not the educational tracks that will put anyone anywhere but burger flipepr jobs and talking heads on MSNBC.