Devonte Keith | Staff Writer
Over the past three years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received almost as much attention for corruption in their academics as their success in athletics.
As the nation’s first public university, UNC-Chapel Hill boasts its ability to provide their students with the best education before anything. However, prior investigations on students, tutors, and classes have proved this wrong.
According to a recent story on CNN, Mary Willingham, an academic advisor at UNC, conducted research on 183 football and basketball players at UNC from 2004 to 2012. Willingham’s research showed that sixty percent of these players measured were reading at a fourth to eighth grade level, while almost ten percent were reading below a third grade level. Though Willingham refuses to release explicit details of which players were measured, she insists that her research on the students in the athletics programs that make money for the university was done based on screenings that the university itself paid for. She also insists that she received permission from the university several times since 2008 to access those findings to continue her research. “It’s already available to them,” Willingham said. “It’s in their system. … They have all the data and more. It belongs to them, and they paid a lot of money for it.”
According to ABC News, she claims to have received death threats and hate mail from anonymous sources. Willingham’s research revealed that some of the academic violations included fraud in the African American Studies Department, improper tutor help, as well as unauthorized grade changes. In fact, one of the professors of the African American Studies Department was said to have taken $12,000 in order to “teach” a no-show class. UNC issued a statement saying it did not believe Willingham’s research. “University officials can’t comment on the other statistical claims mentioned in the story because they have not seen that data. University officials have asked for that data, but those requests have not been met.”
This concept of academic scandal within athletic departments is not at all new and is not only happening in North Carolina. In 1951, the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was involved in a transcript altering scandal. As a means of gaining more wins and overall success in athletics, the College of William & Mary deemed it necessary to alter some of the incoming freshmen high school transcripts to allow them to be able to participate in athletics. According to a report, football players were given credit for summer school classes that they never attended. After the scandal was investigated, the repercussions didn’t seem to be that serious until the press came into play. William & Mary was never allowed to forget it’s past scandal and the “big time” football years had taken a hit because of it. More recently, CNN reported that the NCAA admitted that almost 30 athletes in sports that make revenue for schools received scores below 700 on the SAT.
In these scandals, the question lies in who gets hurt the most, the athletic department, the school, or the athletes? At the end of the day, the university is there to optimize every opportunity for every student in a way that they can do the same in years to come. When established athletic departments apply these academic crutches they limit the students to believing that they are only good at one thing: sports.
Nia Doaks | Staff Writer
Olivia Pope of ABC’s Scandal and Mary Jane Paul BET’s Being Mary Jane are two fictional characters that have begun attracting a lot of attention in the Black community. These shows have a few things in common: the main characters are both strong, professional, educated Black women; however, they both have social lives that are in shambles.
The representation of Black women in the media has arguably progressed over time- but do Olivia Pope and Mary Jane Paul current portray Black women in a positive or negative light?
Throughout history, Black women have been represented in various roles, most of which have been negative in some way. They have been portrayed as “the help” and were passive and willing to serve those around them. In a large number of roles Black women have simply been seen as a source of explicit sexuality or emotional drama. Now, for the first time in 40 years, Black women have been able to branch out and capture lead roles in network drama, but within these roles they are act as “side chicks” and don’t quite have a handle on their social lives.
In Scandal, Olivia Pope is the ultimate problem-solver. Played by Kerry Washington, she is considered one of the best “fixers” in Washington, D.C. She can negotiate payments and persuade people in a matter of minutes–but she is also the President’s mistress and appears to be completely under his emotional control. In Being Mary Jane, Mary Jane Paul (played by Gabrielle Union) is incredibly smart and is a successful news anchor. She, like Pope is entirely self-sufficient, and hard-working. But, also like Pope, Paul struggles with her love for a married man and simply can’t seem to get over him. These two characters are successful Black women and deal with issues that everyone can relate to; however, their patterns of sexual affair is a behavior that is often associated with Black women. The incorporation of sexual promiscuity into the storylines of both characters suggests that this will always be the case, no matter the level of success achieved by Black women.
Marshall Anthony, Jr., a senior, enjoys watching both shows. “I think its monumental that there is a black female lead on Scandal,” says Anthony. “They highlight both her work ethic and her emotional issues. I think that all people have these problems– it’s not just reminiscent of black women.” Chelsea Pearson, also a senior, enjoys watching these shows as well. “I’m more interested in the cases that they solve rather than [the relationships],” she says in reference to Scandal. “I like the fact that they portray her with a lot of power, but the way that they portray [her social life] is pretty messed up.”
Although both Scandal and Being Mary Jane may have their negatives, overall, these shows fill a void that has been empty in television for decades. Oftentimes it is a challenge to get programming aimed at Black audiences to cross over to white audiences; however, Scandal and Mary Jane have both been successful in doing so, partly in fact to their strong Black female leads.
Scandal airs on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC, and the show is scheduled to return February 27. Being Mary Jane airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.
Taari Coleman | Staff Writer
For the first time in six years, NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) has added Black women to its roster. Last Monday, Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes joined the series team of writers, and Sasheer Zamata joined the cast as a featured player.
This move by Executive Director Lorne Michaels transpired shortly after the addition of six new cast members late in 2013, who were all white. Cast member Kenan Thompson’s interview with TV Guide, in which he blamed the absence of accurate representation in the show’s cast on the lack of quality Black comediennes, also sparked controversy: “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” Thompson and cast member Jay Pharoah’s refusal to dress in drag to portray Black women characters also prompted the search for women of color to permanently add to staff.
SNL has been facing diversity issues for years. Before Monday, the series employed three actors of color out of 16 cast members, one a woman. A closer look at SNL’s writing staff and the changes that have occurred in the position of head writer revealed telling facts:
-Tina Fey was head writer of the series from 1999-2006.
-In 2007, Maya Rudolph left the show, becoming the last woman of color to be a part of the cast until 2009.
-In 2009, Iranian-American cast member Nasim Pedrad became SNL’s sole woman of color, retaining that title until last week.
It appears that Saturday Night Live lost its sense of diversity when Tina Fey left in 2006. Fey paved a path for women in comedy and television as a whole. Her departure from SNL took with it a strong backbone and eye for detail amongst the show. This is apparent, because this season, there are three women and one Black man that write for SNL. Despite the showrunner’s knowledge of this poor representation of women and people of color amongst staff, it took the show’s audience to highlight the need for change, on blogs and social media.
11 Black women auditioned for SNL in a special showcase held last month, including names like Nicole Byer of MTV’s Girl Code, and Azie Mira Dungie of the popular web show Ask a Slave. The additions of Jones, Tookes and Zamata to both the cast and the writing staff bring about exciting possibilities for future skits. Public response has been mixed, however. Some SNL fans are enthralled by the new members, many also have high, and perhaps unreasonable, hopes and standards for Jones, Tookes, and particularly, Zamata.
Zamata was previously a performer on School Night a variety show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. CNN anchor Don Lemon said on an episode of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, “…it probably won’t be easy for Zamata — who, in the glaring spotlight that’s about to be trained on her, is going to have to be a whole lot funnier than she is black.” Bobby Moynihan, a repertory player on SNL since 2008, told The Daily Beast, “Geesh, people are really going to be picking her apart and scrutinizing that first episode aren’t they?…I thought I was nervous for the first episode back. She’s so great, though. So, so smart.”
There are still some viewers that are convinced and disappointed that Zamata was hired solely based on her race. At this point in time, diversity in the media is still in need of progression. Fans should sit back and wait to give Jones, Tookes and Zamata a chance to perform before making judgments, forming hasty opinions, or placing unrealistic expectations on these women.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of the Nubian Message’s editorial board, and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.
Dick Gregory dropped jewels Monday night and some of y’all were sleep.
Some of y’all were so distracted by his “naughty” language that you not only ignored the significance of his message, but also disrespected a Civil Right’s legend, and more than that, an 81-year-old man.
During the Q&A portion of Monday night’s event, some students lashed out at Gregory for his comedic take on real issues in the Black community.
Often times our elders attempt to teach us the same values and lessons as Gregory did on Monday night, but we ignore them because of their delivery. Gregory delivered his message in a way that entertained and drew us in to listen, yet people still complained.
There is an African proverb that says, “A child among elders converses with its ears.” As scholars, we are taught to challenge others’ ideas and develop our own opinions. This however, does not mean that we should be ill-mannered.
Gregory has been arrested, marched, and risked his life so that we may have the chance to attend a school like North Carolina State University. The least we could’ve done was show him respect.
If you want to learn about the intricacies of the Movement and read a regurgitated biography of Dr. King, D.H. Hill is open seven days a week.
Gregory’s presence on stage Monday was a commemoration in itself.
Thank you, Dr. King.
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