University News

This Week in Higher Ed: Dec. 5, 2013

By
University News Editor
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Satirical candidate set to lead Harvard student council

A Harvard junior who was elected vice president of the school’s Undergraduate Council after his joke ticket won a plurality of votes announced Monday that he would assume the council presidency instead of resigning as planned, the Harvard Crimson reported.

Gus Mayopoulos and his running mate, junior Sam Clark, who was elected president, ran on a satirical platform and defeated two tickets made up of council members in the election last month.

Both said they would resign immediately after their inauguration, but Mayopoulos reversed course Monday. Clark still plans to vacate his seat, making Mayopoulos president under the council’s succession rules, the Crimson reported.

The pair’s campaign platforms included having tomato basil ravioli soup in dining halls every day and getting thicker toilet paper, as well as divesting from gender-neutral weekend shuttles — a combination of three hot-button issues at Harvard. They garnered 43 percent of the vote.

Mayopoulos told the Crimson that he and Clark initially ran to foster a conversation about the Undergraduate Council, but he now believes serving on the council would allow him to make the body more accountable to student wishes.

“I am hoping to dispel people’s fears that, ‘Oh, this is just going to be more of a joke,’” Mayopoulos told the Crimson. “It may be funny, but it won’t be a joke.”

 

Former UNC dept. chair indicted for not teaching classes

A former department chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was indicted by a grand jury Monday for accepting pay for a class he only pretended to teach, part of a long-running scandal unveiled in recent years at the university, the Raleigh, N.C.-based News and Observer reported.

Julius Nyang’oro, who chaired the African studies program for 19 years, was paid $12,000 for supposedly teaching AFAM 280: “Blacks in North Carolina,” a summer course in 2011. But the class, which comprised current and former football players, did not meet.

The indictment is the latest development in a scandal that took place over several years, considered one of the largest public university academic fraud schemes ever.

A university investigation commenced in 2011 found that more than 50 African studies courses had likely never met over the previous five years. When former Gov. Jim Martin began a follow-up investigation, he uncovered over 200 classes that had definitely or probably not met, dating back to the mid-1990s, as well as hundreds of unauthorized grade changes, the News and Observer reported.

The scandal has also raised questions at the university and nationally about the relationship between athletics and academics. Athletes accounted for 45 percent of enrollments in the identified no-show classes, compared to under 5 percent of the overall student body. The football team was by the far the most represented in the fraudulent classes.

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