North Carolina’s academic scandal has hit a new low — literally.
According to a report in the News and Observer, Erik Highsmith was caught plagiarizing from four 11-year-olds for a communications class in the spring 2011 semester.
Highsmith was required to blog about poultry farming, people and pets for 30 percent of his grade. Apparently, that was too much for the Tar Heel receiver. Here’s a look at a comparison of his paper, and what the 11-year-olds wrote on an education website for their peers.
Highsmith: “Poultry farming is raising of turkeys, ducks, chicken and other fowl for meat or eggs. Poultry farms can be breeding farms where they raise poultry for meat, or layer farms where they produce eggs. The ‘best’ breeds depend on what you want from them. Good egg layers are Rhode Island Reds [brown eggs] and Leghorns [white eggs].”
Post from the website: “Poultry farming is raising chickens, turkeys, ducks and other fowl for meat or eggs. Poultry farms can be: 1. Breeding farms where they raise poultry for meat, or 2. Layer farms where they produce eggs.
“The ‘best’ breeds depend on what you want from them. Good egg layers are Rhode Island Reds [brown eggs] and Leghorns [white eggs].”
The report says instructor J. Nikol Beckham initially noticed the plagiarism.
“I suggested that they consider that this isn’t an isolated incident,” she said to the News and Observer, “and I expressed my disappointment considering everything that had been going on for the last year. And I received a great deal of assurances that it would be handled.”
The Tar Heels were subject to a widespread academic scandal in the spring, with four investigations centering on the school’s African and Afro-American Studies Department, as well as problems with tutors.
It appears the problem is even more widespread than previously thought.
UNC did not comment on the story, but Steve Kirshcner, an associate athletic director in Chapel Hill, told the News and Observer, “Faculty, advisors, counselors, coaches and staff interact with our student-athletes daily and often remind them of the responsibility they have to do the right thing in all aspects of their lives — academically, athletically and socially,” Kirschner wrote. “And we believe our student-athletes meet those responsibilities the overwhelming amount of the time.”