Academic Scandal at Winston-Salem State

Shira Hedgepeth, The John William Pope Center, July 17, 2013

I worked at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) for more than four years, rising to the post of director of academic technology in the school’s Information Technology Department. My first position at the school was that of instructional designer in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, which had been formed to address growing concern over student failure rates.

My job was to assist faculty in the implementation of technology into their pedagogy to provide a better learning experience for the students.

Although all instructors were granted the opportunity to attend training and receive assistance, courses with high drop, fail, and withdrawal (DFW) rates were specifically targeted. {snip}

Although there can be many reasons why some courses have high DFW rates, it usually comes down to the difficulty of the course, the instructor’s ability to teach the material, or the students’ ability to learn the material presented. High DFW rates are most often seen in math, science, and health science based courses.

During my first year at WSSU (which is one of five historically black colleges and universities in the UNC system), several troubling issues became apparent.

Many of the entering students were not prepared for college and required remediation before they were able to take regular college courses. Thus, many of these students were unable to make it through to graduation and that put pressure on the university and faculty to increase success rates. The university’s four-year graduation rate for the university was a mere 14 percent.  Since funding from the state is based on graduation rates and a school’s accreditation can be jeopardized by low rates, campus officials were extremely concerned.

Because of WSSU’s low graduation rate, school officials had to decide whether to change its admission standards and move to attract a higher quality of student, or to lower course standards to make it appear that students were more successful. During faculty and staff meetings, this was discussed and the chancellor stated that he did not want to change the “look” of WSSU. Raising admission standards would mean fewer students on campus and therefore less state money flowing in.

The path the administration took was to make it seem as though students were doing better. Of course, there was no official statement to that effect, but I realized that was the case after faculty members began to share their concerns and frustration with me.

Many stated that they were under pressure to decrease the material in the courses and increase the passing rates. They feared that they would be released if they didn’t. Other faculty members expressed concern that students were held to different standards depending on their race. Some said that they thought school officials were changing grades they had entered.

Although those complaints were disturbing, I had no proof and I had to operate as if they were only rumors.

My suspicions are heightened by the cheating I witnessed on numerous occasions. Faculty members were encouraged to utilize the “learning management system” for testing. Under that system, students would come to the library in groups and check out laptops to take tests.

This process would start early on the day that the test was due and the students would be there for hours.   They would cluster in a corner and one student would start taking the test, while the others would have open books, laptops, and notes readily available to assist the student.  Each would take their turn taking the test until all of the students had finished. Unfortunately, WSSU provided no way to track or report student cheating.

I witnessed this blatant cheating on several occasions and reported it to my supervisor and the associate provost. They told me that it was none of my business. {snip}

Before I could learn more about the erosion of academic integrity at WSSU, I was fired. In 2011, after I had been promoted to director of academic technology, one of workers in the department, unhappy that a white person had been chosen, repeatedly attacked me verbally. After mediation with her failed to bring results, and because of other complaints about her performance, I recommended that she be released. I was stunned when, shortly thereafter, I was notified that I had been terminated.

Believing that I had been fired without cause and because of my race, I contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that responds to cases of workplace discrimination. After investigating, the Director of the Greensboro office found that the university’s stated justification for my firing was unconvincing and there was reason to believe that racial discrimination had been a factor. (The EEOC has referred my case to the Department of Justice, where it is still pending.)

Subsequently, the Winston-Salem Journal published an article about my case. That article provided an avenue for faculty and staff to contact me regarding their concerns and complaints regarding WSSU.

One faculty member who contacted me stated that not only did she have knowledge of the administration’s practice of raising student grades, but she could prove it because she’d been able to leave the university with her records intact. {snip}

{snip}

Over the holiday break in 2012, however, I met with a faculty member who had the records to back her story.

She stated that before leaving WSSU, a student came to her office and thanked her for “giving” her an “A” when she knew that she had barely earned a “B” in a nursing course. The professor was stunned to hear that and decided to go back into the student record keeping system to see if she had made a mistake.

Looking at the records, she saw that four of her grades had been changed from B to A, and one from an F to an Incomplete. In each instance, the student who benefited was black. Also, white students who had higher averages than those whose grades were raised all remained at the lower, correct, grades. She documented all of the changes on her records.

When this professor complained to the administration about the grade changes, officials took no action except to create such a hostile work environment for her that she quit. Because she quit, however, she avoided the usual confiscation routine and was therefore able to escape with her records. {snip}

I have written to both UNC president Tom Ross and Governor Pat McCrory to inform them about the bad conditions at WSSU. So far, neither has responded. Both should take a serious interest in this matter. Taxpayer money is being wasted at a university where the appearance of educational progress means more than actual educational progress.

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  • ILOVEMYRACE

    Because of Affirmative Action hiring, these Black “graduatuates” will be your Doctor, policemen, teacher, nurse, school principal, fireman, medical technician, attorney, judge, . . .
    What a nightmare!

    • bigone4u

      The worst of these is the black cop who hates whites. He can kill you and claim it was justified. But a college degree is not required to be a cop in many places and my impression is that there are already many black cops who are unqualified.

      The second worst is the black judge who does not understand law. He or she can put you in prison for life or cost you your life savings.

      As blacks are given fake degrees and put into the jobs you list, the ability of society to function will deteriorate and the economy will continue to stagnate. The superwealthy will be OK, but there will be justice in the sense that libtard college profs who participate in the farce will suffer too since they are not paid that much.

      • willbest

        Black judge still has to pass the bar, which as an exam, still gets to be raciss.

    • me

      The communists, aka ‘liberal progressives’ need to learn something that every kindergartener knows….YOU CAN’T ‘FIX’ STUPID.

    • Creepy as a cracker!

      I will not patronize a black business or so called black professionals. Unfortunately I have dealt with blacks police officers that were as fluent in English as Rachel “it aint racial” Jeantel.

  • din_do_nuffins

    ALL the trend are against us.

    • me

      Quit your whining and fight! Sweet Jesus and the baby orphans, do you have any idea how defeatist you sound?

      • din_do_nuffins

        I you could see what’s become of my neighborhood through enriching Diversity, you’d sound the same way. It’s headed in your direction. Start hating it now so you will know how to deal with it when that’s all you see.

  • Spartacus

    Blacks are garbage, end of story. But what was she doing in a black “college” in the first place?

  • bigone4u

    Sweet Jesus! This story could have been written by me (and in fact my version is going into a book I’m writing). There is, in my opinion, criminal fraud involved in the activities of the university in this story and my former university. I’m sure there are many other universities engaging in similar fraud. At my university the administration fired a black professor who was maintaining standards by giving low grades TO THE MBA STUDENTS. Yes, the corruption now extends even into the area of graduate degrees. The administration also falsified data on student sucess that was reported to the state and federal governments. Reality has consequences and the extent to which the power elites will go to hide those consequences is literally criminal.

    • MBlanc46

      I’m definitely looking forward to reading that book.

      • Irishgirl

        Me too. I’ll buy it in hardback!

  • Frans

    I’d bet this is going on all over the country in most colleges and universities!

    • Sick of it

      I know it is with students in sports. Otherwise, I’ll have to take the word of those with more direct experience.

      • me

        Well, you can’t give a Bantu a degree in playing with his balls, can you? Or mouth breathing, rapping, raping, or any other ‘natural’ talent? Geez, get with the program….

    • me

      Yup. Worldwide….

  • dd121

    Whenever there are unusually high test scores and grades from blacks it’s a guaranteed that fraud was involved.

  • The Final Solution

    I worked at a liberal arts college for a couple of years. I wouldn’t do it again for any amount of money. If you want to talk about a hostile work environment, try being a white male on a liberal arts campus. It was the most uncomfortable experience, like being a rabbit in a snake pit. Some students actually complained about me to my supervisor because I dared to speak to them.

    • bigone4u

      Many universities today train the female students to complain that any white male who speaks to you is a sexual harasser.

      • me

        And the stupid White feminazis will tolerate a slope-headed Negro blabbering obscene propositions while grabbing his nether regions (the mating ritual of the feral Bantu), or outright Negro rape….go figure.

  • APaige

    Another cheating scandal? They cheat and still fail! Blacks even give cheating a bad name.

    • me

      Failure, thy name is Negro….

  • Tom_in_Miami

    It’s this sort of duplicity on the part of an institution that makes it difficult for graduates to fine meaningful work.

  • Menstruella Jones

    “The university’s four-year graduation rate for the university was a mere 14 percent”.

    Read a few weeks ago it was 13%. Though in light of the facts, it would be substantially lower than that. WSSU has been handing out fake, pretend congoloid degrees for decades. It should be shut down and the campus handed over to Forsyth County’s community college.

  • ViktorNN

    The white liberals who have brought white people in the US their impending minority status really don’t have a clue what they’ve done to their descendants, to white children.

    Non-whites are already showing they have absolutely no hesitation about taking seriously the lessons they’ve learned in their “black studies” programs and the “diversity seminars” they’ve attended. It’s not just nice sounding rhetoric to them. They are increasingly aggressive about shutting out white people, discriminating against white people, calling for non-whites to take over as many formerly white jobs as they can, hounding white people out of jobs, etc.

    As soon as the demographic balance of a region, city, school, workplace etc. shifts – non-whites turn on whites as fast they can. It’s always been a zero sum game as far non-whites have been concerned, and as demographic reality shifts to favor them, that’s exactly how it’s turning out to be. It’s only idiotic white liberals who somehow think the “multicultural America” we’re becoming is going to reserve seats for them and their children.

    • Sick of it

      I’ve seen the truth of the above locally. Once the population shifts just enough in their favor, they tend to monopolize employment in town government, boards which are appointed by the town, and related businesses. It is direct discrimination.

  • Creepy as a cracker!

    HBCU = Diploma Mill