Society

Report: Winston-Salem State University Altering African-American Student Grades

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Campus Reform has published a report involving race-based grade changing at Winston Salem State University in North Carolina.

According to the report, administrators at the school are “systematically raising the final grades of African-American students” while leaving grades of non-African American students untouched.

The issue was brought to light by Shira Hedgepeth, the former Director of Academic Technology at the school. Hedgepeth and two other professors are telling Campus Reform that student’s grades are being changed in order to improve the school’s academic standing.

“Some students had their final grades changed based on their race,” Hedgepeth said. “That was a common complaint of many of the faculty that I worked with. None of the Caucasian or non-African American students… none of their grades were changed. The way the grades fell out, there was no other reason for changing.”

Campus Reform claims to have attained documents that corroborate Hedgepeth’s claims but declined to release them in fear of violating the Family Education Rights and Privacy act. Although Campus Reform is not releasing any documentation, a letter from Hedgepeth to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory containing examples of grade changes can be seen here. Student names have been omitted from the letter to ensure compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

As noted by The Blaze, one of the professors in the report says the grade-changing practice is well-known amongst school staff.

“All the faculty, white and black are very fearful to speak,” the professor said. “The department is run by fear and through retaliation. If you speak out you will be retaliated against.”

The second professor in the report backed up these sentiments. When asked if the practice is still happening the professor said “Oh yes, definitely. Oh yes, it is still going on.”

Hedgepeth says faculty members have made sincere efforts to draw attention to the issue but have been unsuccessful.

“I have tried reaching out to our accrediting body but they would not take complaints such as these,” she said. “We have done everything we can to get somebody to start looking.”

A WSSU spokesperson responded to the report by saying that the university had never heard of or received complaints regarding the issue.

According to The Blaze, both professors in the report spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation from the school for speaking out. Unlike the anonymous professors, Hedgepeth has nothing to fear. She was fired from the school in 2011 and has two pending lawsuits against WSSU. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that she was a victim of racial discrimination when she was fired. 

Sources: Campus Reform, The Blaze, Journal Now, WSSU Insider