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North Carolina Spot Checking Classes

Class checks for athletes to make sure they are attending classes is nothing new. But North Carolina is now taking that one step further, and checking on classes to make sure the class is there:

To prove the legitimacy of classes, administrators have fanned out to hundreds of classrooms to verify that students and professors are present. Some departments even discussed bringing in photographers to document classes, according to one professor, Lew Margolis, a faculty member in public health.

The checks come ahead of a visit from an agency far more important to UNC than the NCAA: their accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges. The visit follows a letter from the SASC to UNC questioning the university’s reform efforts following the academic fraud scandal. This should not have an impact on North Carolina athletics unless the university ultimately lost accreditation, which normally takes multiple warnings and periods to address concerns and is highly unlikely.

But the question of what is and is not a legitimate class is raised by the monitoring procedures used by chief academic officer Deborah Eaker-Rich to check on the classes:

“I tried to do it in a very nondisruptive way,” Eaker-Rich said of her checks. “Our building has windows on the doors, so if the doors were closed, I could just look in and say, ‘OK, there’s Dr. So-and-So, and there are approximately 25 students in there and obviously they’re doing something.’ ”

Classroom instruction is in many ways beyond reproach. So long as you are doing something in a classroom, someone charged with verifying your class as legitimate will not question what is going on. A college course with so many attendance points that it was basically impossible to fail a student earned them all would be tough to challenge.

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