Opinion

Culture of secrecy continues at UNC

From an editorial Saturday in the Greensboro News & Record:

When Carol Folt said nine UNC-Chapel Hill employees would be fired or disciplined for their role in a long-running academic scandal, she didn’t add a taunt to the public: See if you can figure out who.

Nevertheless, the chancellor and her subordinates won’t give out that information. Their refusal to comply with the law prompted the News & Record and other media organizations to file a suit demanding disclosure.

The next day, UNC released the name of one fired employee, former academic counselor Jamie Lee. That’s a start.

This isn’t only about the law. It’s a matter of accountability. Kenneth Wainstein’s report named a number of faculty and staff members who knew or should have known that students were enrolled in “paper” classes for which they did little work yet received good grades.

People who work for a state university are public employees. Among information that must be disclosed is any demotion, suspension or dismissal, as well as the reasons for dismissal.

The university contends that, while appeals of disciplinary actions are ongoing, the information isn’t subject to release.

The Chapel Hill administration, going back to the tenure of former Chancellor Holden Thorp, has meted out information reluctantly. Meanwhile, it’s spent a fortune on public relations. Now it could spend more money defending itself from a lawsuit that seeks only compliance with the law. If it has taken disciplinary action against faculty and staff members, it must say who, what and why.

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