Nov 252014


By Donald P. Eggleston

November 25, 2014

This article originally appeared in the Greensboro News & Record on Sunday. It has been edited here for length.

In response to the recent investigation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the report by Kenneth Wainstein, I offer the university appropriate remedies to recapture its academic credibility.

My suggestions are drastic, but only drastic remedies offer a reasonable opportunity for recovery of the respect we have lost, both academically and athletically.

These suggestions include the wholesale replacement of coaches, administrators, tutors and faculty who were complicit in the fraud and a re-examination of the appropriate relationship between intercollegiate athletics and academics.

I hold to the principle that it does not matter if a coach or administrator or faculty member did not have actual knowledge of the “shadow” nature of the classes. All of the parties involved had a responsibility to know.

There is no doubt that signs were sufficiently apparent to put everyone on notice. If I am a coach who has recruited my players, I am aware of their often-limited academic backgrounds and natural proclivities. When I see more than 80 percent of my players are taking the same course, I have enough information to warrant an investigation.

Further, if I elect to delegate that responsibility to someone else, I must answer to the failure of my delegate to effectively investigate. Constructive knowledge equals actual knowledge, and the blame lies with all.

With all due respect to men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, it is not about whether the “kids tried to do the right thing.” The problem is not what the “kids” did, but rather what the “adults” allowed, helped and even directed the kids to do.

Deflecting the attention to the “kids” is just an escape mechanism to deflect responsibility off the adults. The really sad part is that this deflection has been present for a long time. We have aided and abetted academic fraud.

Athletics officials have the primary responsibility of overseeing the entire operation of each separate program, including academic performance. They failed in that role. I recommend the replacement of all non-clerical staff of the department who served in any capacity during the time athletes were enrolled in African and Afro-American Studies, or AFAM, classes.

This should coincide with a complete review of the role and mission statement of the athletics department.

•All non-clerical staff of any individual sports program in which any players were enrolled in any phony AFAM classes should be replaced. That includes all head and assistant coaches. They have succumbed to the disease of performance over academics that has led to the loss of all credibility, outside the community of the fanatic boosters of their respective or collective sports.

No amount of finger pointing or gnashing of teeth is persuasive. We are all sorry that we were caught, but some of us are sorry that it happened. The issue is the exercise and acceptance of responsibility. Each sports program should be rebuilt upon a more integrity-based model in conjunction with a restatement of academic standards and goals.

• Whether misled by signals, or lack thereof, from the administration and faculty, the academic support program for student-athletes still failed. I am satisfied that all staff knew the difference between what was right and what they were actually doing.

The entire staff of this program should be replaced. Further, the university should re-evaluate the viability and context of this program and, if it elects to continue it, redefine its purposes and policies.

If the program is to be continued, supervision and control over its operation, including the hiring of all counselors/tutors in the program, should be assigned to a division of the general administration and faculty.

• I find it particularly troublesome that the African and Afro-American Studies Department, now renamed African, African American and Diaspora Studies, was drawn into this scheme, given the importance of this department to the university’s diversity program.

However, it is inconceivable to me, in the current climate created by this scandal, that AFAM will not struggle to retain credibility in the academic community.

Additionally, given the overwhelming breadth of the abuse outlined in the Wainstein Report, the reasonable conclusion is that no one in the department could have failed to know of or suspect the abuses. My conclusion is that the entire program needs a rebuild. All current faculty and non-clerical staff who were there at the time should be replaced.

• The failure of the Faculty Athletic Council is not just an athletic failure. It is clear that academic politics played a part in the failure of that group to closely supervise both AFAM and athletic performance. Wainstein suggests that the members of this committee were persuaded against close investigation of AFAM because of academic autonomy. Irrespective of the motivations, there is no doubt that it refused to exercise the very purpose of the committee.

To regain credibility, the university must restate and reinforce the purpose of this committee, replace its members and recharge the replacements as to purpose.

I choose to believe that this fiasco can serve as an opportunity for UNC to lead by example. And one way to lead is to open a new dialogue as to the appropriate role of “big college sports” in the university community.

Donald P. Eggleston is a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 1971. He was a John Motley Morehead Scholar, a basketball letterman under Dean Smith (1967-71) and received his law degree from UNC in 1974.

Nov 252014


By Anne Blythe
November 25, 2014

Ten media organizations, including The News & Observer, sued the UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday to get the names of faculty and staff members disciplined in the wake of the athletic and academic scandal.

The media organizations state in their complaint that under North Carolina’s public records law, the date and reason for any demotion, suspension or dismissal of a state employee must be available for public inspection.

Department heads have the discretion to release even more information in the employee’s records, according to law, if it is “essential to maintaining the integrity of such department or to maintaining the level or quality of services provided by such department.”

The suit also names Chancellor Carol Folt and Felicia A. Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement at UNC-CH as defendants.

On Oct. 22, Kenneth Wainstein, a former federal prosecutor hired to investigate allegations of academic and athletic fraud, released a 131-page report disclosing that more than 3,100 students – about half of them athletes – took bogus classes in African and Afro-American Studies over an 18-year period that ended in 2011.

Since then, Folt has revealed that nine employees would be terminated or disciplined. She responded “four” to the question of how many employees had been fired. But she has not identified which employees are in the group.

Wainstein’s report names at least 16 faculty and staff members as being directly or indirectly involved in the scheme, according to the lawsuit. UNC-Chapel Hill officials have provided, when asked by media organizations, information about those people that “appears to be historical in nature” and doesn’t reflect their status after Oct. 24.

University officials declined Monday to comment about specifics of the lawsuit, saying they received notice shortly after noon.

“We decline further comment at this time while we review these claims,” Rick White, associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs, said in a statement.

Because the state has an extensive appeals process for employees who have been disciplined or fired, some agencies have argued that changes in employment status do not become a part of the public record until appeals have been exhausted.

Mike Tadych, the Raleigh attorney representing the media organizations, contends otherwise.

Dan Barkin, a News & Observer senior editor, agreed.

“The law was specifically written for the purpose of letting citizens know when public employees are hired, promoted, demoted or terminated,” Barkin said. “This is crucial to the transparency of state agencies.”

Nov 252014


NOV. 24, 2014

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia heads into an extraordinary meeting of its governing board on Tuesday struggling to find its footing, after a reported frat house gang rape rocked the university’s vaunted reputation and genteel self-image and unleashed complaints that it had mishandled and concealed sexual assaults for years.

The administration has drawn fire for its unsteady response to the issue and the report, published last week by Rolling Stone, most recently for a video of a dean acknowledging weeks before the article that even students who had admitted to sexual assault had invariably escaped expulsion — and that, in fact, no one had been expelled for sexual assault in at least seven years.

Professors shelved lesson plans Monday to devote classes to dissecting the problem, as protesters kept up a string of demonstrations outside the white-columned, Federal-style fraternity house where the rape was said to have taken place two years ago. On a bridge nearby, a makeshift memorial to a freshman, Hannah Graham, who was murdered in September — the university’s most recent communal trauma — had been painted over with the message “Take back the party: end rape.”

The article hit a campus already deeply unnerved by that murder, and where fresh memories remain of the 2010 murder of a female lacrosse player, Yeardley Love, by a male lacrosse player, George Huguely V. Like those killings, the Phi Kappa Psi episode belies the picture of the university and its hometown as an old-school island of scholarship, safety, honor codes and etiquette, set apart from a grittier world, just as the university’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, might have envisioned.

The allegation of a brutal assault at one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious public universities puts Virginia squarely in the midst of a nationwide debate about campus sexual assault and the role of fraternities, and offers the latest example of administrators scrambling to deal with issues that had often been shunted aside in the past.

“The fraternity culture has to change, but I don’t know how it would, because the fraternity culture is such a big part of life here,” said Annalise Gill, 18, a first-year student from Texas.

The Board of Visitors that governs the university has called a special meeting to discuss the matter Tuesday. In recognition of heavy public interest, it will gather in an auditorium rather than the small board room in the two-century-old Rotunda, where it usually meets.

The Rolling Stone article detailed what appeared to be the preplanned gang rape of a student in 2012 in an upstairs room of the Phi Kappa Psi house, followed by a botched response by the administration. And it alleged that rape has long been an ugly undercurrent of the university’s social system, treated as an unfortunate byproduct of the school’s party culture whose eradication was less important than maintaining the university’s image.

The topic was impossible to avoid on campus Monday, where some students handed out yellow chrysanthemums in a wan attempt to make people feel better about their school, and news cameras were planted outside the Phi Kappa Psi house. A reporter who walked to the front door was approached by two men who identified themselves only as “Biker” and “Cookie,” and threatened to remove her if she knocked.

On the doors of Peabody Hall, which houses administrators’ offices, students had posted sticky notes with messages like “I wish I could leave” and “Let’s do better.” Lyra Bartell, who graduated in May, stood on the building’s steps with a camera and a whiteboard, and said she was making a photo project of people holding up the board with expressions of support for assault survivors.

At some universities that have faced allegations of sexual assault and fraternity misconduct, a sizable faction among the students has denied that there was a serious problem. There was little of that in evidence here, but students took pains to note that sexual assault is not limited to fraternities or to this campus.

At a gathering on Monday, leaders of student groups demanded self-examination and reform, and the president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, Thomas Reid, said, “It makes me personally sick to my stomach to make me think about what happened that one night in that specific fraternity house, and it disorients my understanding of this community.”

The initial response to the article last Wednesday from Teresa A. Sullivan, the university president, drew fire from students and alumni who said it should have reflected greater revulsion and remorse. The Inter-Fraternity Council temporarily suspended Greek life, and made a statement calling its members “horrified, disgusted, and viscerally saddened,” making it appear that the fraternities, themselves, reacted more strongly than the administration.

Ms. Sullivan later issued a much stronger statement, and on Saturday, she suspended all fraternity activity until January. But again, many people were not placated, as critics noted that the time covered by the suspension consisted almost entirely of holiday breaks and finals, when fraternity houses would have been relatively quiet anyway.

“Suspending fraternity events for this period is a farce,” said John D. Foubert, a professor of higher education at Oklahoma State University who studies campus sexual assault and is a former assistant dean of students at Virginia. Because of its insular culture, he said, his former employer has a worse sexual assault problem than most of its peers.

The university has also asked the Charlottesville police to look into the 2012 incident described in Rolling Stone.

On Sunday, a student news organization, WUVA, posted a video online of an interview it conducted weeks ago with Nicole P. Eramo, the associate dean of students and chairwoman of the sexual misconduct board, who confirmed that there had been no expulsions for sexual assault in years, even when assailants confessed in informal conferences to resolve allegations. As a result, the university has punished offenses like cheating and stealing more harshly than rape.

Students who admit to sexual assault are showing remorse and unlikely to be repeat offenders, and victims often choose the informal route because “they’re not looking for expulsion,” she said in the interview. “They’re generally feeling quite satisfied with the fact that the person has admitted that they’ve done something wrong.”

The uproar is getting attention well beyond Charlottesville.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, called the fact that admitted assailants are not expelled “shocking and outrageous,” and demonstrates the need to pass a bill she co-sponsored to curb campus sex crimes. Congressional Democrats plan to hold hearings on the subject as early as next month, before power transfers to the Republicans.

Nov 252014


By T. Rees Shapiro
November 24

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Student leaders at the University of Virginia said they are seeking to foster cultural and institutional changes to combat sexual assault at the state’s flagship campus after allegations of a gang rape at a fraternity surfaced last week.

Campus representatives of student government and sexual assault prevention groups spoke at a news conference Monday about their efforts to unify the student body as the administration seeks to make significant reforms at the elite public university. The news conference came days after a Rolling Stone article detailed the account of a student who said she was gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi house during her freshman year in 2012.

Jalen Ross, president of the school’s student council, said that the assaults described in the article “fly in the face of everything we believe in.”

The victim, using an alias for the article, said a member of the fraternity led her to an upstairs room during a party, where she was pinned to the floor and raped by numerous men. The victim later described a tepid response from administration officials whom she contacted after the assault, according to the Rolling Stone account. She did not file a police report about the allegations.

The outrage about the sexual assault allegations roiled the U-Va. campus over the weekend, and on Saturday, U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan announced a freeze on all Greek activities on campus until after the new year.

The allegations also came at a particularly difficult time for the U-Va. community, which is mourning the death of sophomore Hannah Graham, 18, who disappeared Sept. 13. Graham’s body was found in October in a rural part of Albemarle County, and the man arrested in the case has been charged with abduction with intent to defile, an indication that police think he planned to sexually assault the student.

“This semester, too many tragedies have left us wrangling with doubt, anger and fear,” Ross said. “All of us, we’re hurting.”

As the semester winds down — with finals looming shortly after Thanksgiving break — students are expected to hand in term papers, finish group projects and study for exams. Retsy Holliday, a senior foreign affairs major, said those tasks have become more difficult since the school has been put in the national spotlight for such serious matters.

“It all seems so trivial compared to everything that’s gone on,” Holliday said, adding that the sexual assault allegations have seeped into everyday life for students. “Every time you get on social media or you’re walking around Grounds, people are talking about it nonstop. It’s hard to do schoolwork because it’s so distracting.”

Brian Head, president of the all-male sexual assault awareness group One in Four, said the Rolling Stone article has renewed interest in student activism.

“It has opened everyone’s eyes, and it also has opened up everyone’s ears to our message,” Head said. “People feel compelled to act.”

On Monday afternoon, male students gave flowers to young women on campus as a symbol of goodwill. The school’s Greek system, especially its fraternities, continued to take heat: The Phi Kappa Psi house was vandalized late last week and much student ire was directed at Greek culture as an element of the problems at U-Va.

An exterior view of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Va., the site of an alleged sexual assault of a student revealed in a Rolling Stone article. (Ryan M. Kelly/AP)

Tommy Reid, president of the school’s Inter-Fraternity Council, said sexual assault is a persistent challenge for the campus. Efforts to prevent sexual assaults will require addressing “deeper attitudinal shifts” across the university, he said.

“The temporary ban [on Greek activities] gives our community time to take a breath” to find a long-term solution, Reid said. “It is not the solution.”

Some activists said the allegations in the Rolling Stone article, while shocking, were not a complete surprise and aren’t unique to Charlottesville. Ashley Brown, president of the on-campus sexual assault awareness group One Less, said the allegations “are realities we must face . . . but it’s not just a U-Va. issue. It’s a pervasive nationwide epidemic.”

Nov 252014


By Nick Anderson and T. Rees Shapiro November 24

An associate dean of students at the University of Virginia defended the school’s process for punishing students who commit sexual misconduct in a videotaped interview posted online Saturday.

The video, on the Web site WUVA Online, emerged amid rising campus debate over sexual assault following a Rolling Stone article last week that detailed an alleged gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity. The interview occurred before the publication of the article.

A reporter for the student-run news outlet pressed the associate dean, Nicole Eramo, about why U-Va. has not in recent times expelled students who in certain cases admit to sexual assault.

Eramo explained that the university has two methods for resolving a complaint, one through a formal hearing and the second through an informal meeting that involves the accuser, the accused and administrators. She said the choice is left up to the student who files the complaint. Students, like anyone else, also can file a police report and seek criminal charges at any time. Experts outside of U-Va. often say that the more choices students have in reporting a sexual assault, the more likely they are to step forward.

“Sometimes students choose that informal context,” Eramo told the interviewer. “They’re not looking for expulsion. They’re not looking for that type of a sanction. They’re looking to be able to look into the eyes of that other person and say, ‘You wronged me in some way.’ And they’re generally feeling quite satisfied with the fact that the person has admitted that they’ve done something wrong.”

Alex Pinkleton, a junior at U-Va., told The Washington Post that she took part in an informal proceeding in response to a sexual assault complaint she had filed. She said the informal process allowed the case to move more quickly.
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Pinkleton said that she and the man named in her complaint sat together for hours in a room and discussed details about the alleged assault alongside administrators. Pinkleton said that she chose the informal proceedings because the man was days away from graduation. “Doing a formal investigation was logistically difficult,” Pinkleton said.

In the WUVA interview, Eramo was asked why the university expels students for violations of the academic honor code but not for sexual assault. She replied that honor code complaints are adjudicated by a committee that demands a high level of proof for a finding of wrongdoing, known as “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In contrast, she said, the university uses a lower standard of proof in sexual assault cases. It is known as “preponderance of the evidence.”

“What you’re seeing is, if a board feels they’re only 51 percent certain that somebody committed an offense, they’re not necessarily willing to expel that person permanently,” Eramo said.

But Eramo said expulsion remains an option for punishment. She pushed back against any suggestion that the university considers sexual assault a lesser offense than an honor code violation. “I just don’t buy that at all,” she said.

Eramo did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment Monday. Students have circulated a letter of support for Eramo since the Rolling Stone article was published last week. Sexual assault prevention group leaders in Charlottesville say she is their best resource in the administration, someone who is always “a text” away to help students.

Nov 242014


By Brian Haines
November 22, 2014

GREENVILLE — They come from the far wide corners of North Carolina and beyond. The hungry, the overlooked, the undervalued, all lined up for a chance to live their dream.

There may not be a 150-foot tall statue of the Roman goddess Libertas erected in front of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, holding her torch raised high toward the heavens, but make no mistake, East Carolina has become the Ellis Island of college football. The place where any player, regardless of height, hometown or star value, has the opportunity to succeed if they’re willing to work hard enough.

Under fifth-year coach Ruffin McNeill, the Pirates have risen as high as No. 18 in the AP poll this season and were ranked No. 23 in the first College Football Playoff poll. In the past two seasons, they’ve beaten UNC twice and N.C. State once. All achieved with a cast of players rejected by the rest of major college football.

Not counting special teams, ECU has 50 players on its depth chart, 14 of whom were walk-ons. Some, like record-breaking wide receiver Justin Hardy, have ascended to stardom, while others punch the clock and take their positions. But each has made major contributions to the melting pot known as the Pirates.

“We find the players that nobody else wants,” Hardy said. “That’s the kind of mentality that we have here. We’re the team that nobody else wants, and that’s really what keeps us going.”

They don’t arrive with much hype, but the ECU walk-ons show up with hope and the promise that they will receive a fair shake.

“We do a lot of evaluation and we treat the walk-ons as we do any number of star recruits,” McNeill said.

Hardy the ultimate walk-on success story

No player embodies the rags-to-riches story better than Hardy, a former quarterback at West Craven High School who received zero Div. I scholarship offers upon graduation. The senior wide receiver arrived in Greenville with the dream of playing Div. I football, and like so many passes thrown his way, he never let it go.

Four years later, Hardy owns the Pirates’ all-time record for receptions (355), receiving yards (4,153) and touchdown catches (32), and entered Saturday’s game four receptions shy of becoming the NCAA’s all-time leader. He broke that record on an 8-yard catch for a first down with about 5 minutes left in the second quarter.

“It’s been huge, it’s been a game-changer,” ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said of the contributions made by walk-ons. “We don’t have nearly enough receivers on scholarship. We’ve been able to overcome that, especially at (the wide receiver) position. Some of it has been luck, some of it’s been that we work hard. We recruit them like they’re scholarship guys.”

Perhaps even more so, according to ECU recruiting coordinator/inside receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick.

“We really try to put emphasis on it a lot like the NFL does with free agents,” Kirkpatrick said. “I really think we spend more time as a coaching staff evaluating and talking about the potential walk-on kids more than the kids we sign.

“There’s only so many guys you can take after you sign your kids, and we only have 125 kids on the team (roughly 85 of whom are on scholarship). That might sound like a lot, but it’s not a lot in football where you might redshirt a whole class and guys don’t play both ways.

“We’ve been lucky though. There are some kids that have talent that have kind of gotten skipped so we’ve been able to either get them as a preferred walk-on like Justin Hardy was, or we’ve had some kids that have come with no promises like Bryce Williams.”

East Carolina’s due diligence has paid off. This season alone, the Pirates have received 32 starts from former walk-ons.

While Hardy has become the poster boy for walk-on success, his tale is hardly the only one. Senior wide receiver Cam Worthy caught six passes for 224 yards to lead ECU to a 28-21 victory over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, while senior linebacker Brandon Williams is the second-leading tackler.

Sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Williams, who like Hardy played QB in high school and drew little interest from Div. I schools, has blossomed. The elusive wideout caught 12 passes for 174 yards in the first four games before suffering an ankle injury.

Then there’s junior cornerback Josh Hawkins, who was lightly recruited and then backed off due to his academics.

“Back then, I wasn’t thinking (about those things). My grades weren’t the best. They were good, but they weren’t what I needed them to be, and that forced me to walk-on,” Hawkins said. “Winston-Salem State had offered me a half-scholarship, but I was like, ‘You know what? I’m better than that.’ So I walked on to East Carolina. They wanted me. They came to my school twice to see if I was clear.”

Where other schools saw a red light, McNeill saw redemption.

“I walked on and it just motivated me,” Hawkins said. “… I kept grinding and Coach said, ‘We’re going to take care of you. You’re a good kid, and we see you being something big in the future.’ And look at me now.”

Hawkins, who started a total of seven games his freshman and sophomore seasons, has transformed into East Carolina’s most dependable corner and and is tied for 18th nationally with four interceptions.

‘Perfect storm for walk-ons’

On top of having a keen eye for undervalued talent, McNeill and his staff also benefit from ECU’s location and tuition cost.

“We’re in a part of the country that’s a little bit under recruited,” Riley said. “We have a school that’s very, very affordable, especially for instate student-athletes and it’s just kind of the perfect storm for walk-ons.”

Also working in favor of the walk-ons is the fact that they are being coached by people who have walked in their shoes. Riley, along with outside receivers coach David Nichol, both began their college football careers at Texas Tech without a scholarship. Their background ensures that the non-scholarship players won’t be easily dismissed.

“You have a couple of guys here that were former walk-ons and when you’ve been there maybe you sympathize and respect those guys a little bit more and make sure they get a fair look,” Riley said.

And that’s really what it’s all about. Walk-ons don’t just come to East Carolina to be used as fodder for the scout team, they come because they know if they work hard they will get the same chance as the four-star recruit lined up next to them.

They see players like Hardy go from overlooked athlete to team leader and record holder, which validates everything they are told by coaches the second they walk on to the East Carolina campus.

“I think at East Carolina the way Ruff does it is that we give walk-ons a chance. Everybody says they do, but not everybody does,” Riley said. “We get guys to come in here and whether you’re a walk-on guy or a scholarship guy you’re going to get the same opportunity.”

Nov 252014


By Timothy B. Wheeler
November 24

Towson University has recruited a herd of new groundskeepers to put the bite on a pesky weed problem on the suburban campus.

Hauled in from a Harford County farm, 18 goats began munching Sunday on a patch of English ivy covering the forest floor in the school’s Glen Arboretum. They didn’t stop there, though, grazing on almost everything in reach, including fallen leaves, dead vines and even tree bark.

“It’s environmentally safe, and it’s effective — I hope,” said James Hull, a plant ecologist and emeritus biology professor who is overseeing the ivy removal project.

People have been using goats for years to get rid of weeds. It’s a first for Towson, but Hull said “biological” control of the stubborn ivy seemed the right choice for “the Glen,” a mostly wooded 12-acre tract bordering a stream in the heart of the campus that has been designated an arboretum. It harbors 94 of the 120 tree species native to Maryland.

“My dream is to have all native [plants],” said Hull, “and to get all the invasives out.”

Though still planted by some, English ivy is widely considered a pest because it can entomb trees in vines and smother all other ground vegetation. Hull said the ivy has to go if the arboretum’s native trees and shrubs are to survive.

With grants from Baltimore Gas and Electric and PepsiCo, Hull hired five students last year who recruited hundreds of volunteers to begin clearing ivy from part of the arboretum. It’s mostly been removed from the trees, but the ground-hugging vines proved more difficult. Students trying to yank them up stirred up yellow jackets angry over having their subterranean nests disturbed. After a couple got stung, Hull said he decided to look for alternatives.

He ruled out herbicides: He wanted to avoid any risk of contaminating the nearby stream, and he doubted the chemicals could effectively penetrate the waxy coating on ivy leaves.

He decided to try goats after reading a study from Portland, Ore., that found one “application” of the animals removed four-fifths of the ivy in a test plot. After two tries, 98 percent of the ivy was gone.

“It’s what I call an iterative process,” Hull said. “You have to keep coming back again and again.”

For $1,500, Hull hired Jack, Ginger, Leroy and the rest of the goats from Harmony Church Farm in Darlington to spend five days chowing down on campus. They’re feeding on a quarter-acre patch of ivy, fenced in with mildly electrified wire to keep the animals from roaming. Hull also put cages around several recently planted tree seedlings to shield their tender branches from the voracious animals.

The goats’ owner, Veronica “Roni” Cassilly, said she originally got them to take care of invasive plants on her 10-acre farm and now rents them out for jobs like this. They follow her as she walks through the woods, perhaps hoping she’ll dole out some of their favorite snack — peanuts — which she carries with her.

“Our forests are really in terrible shape,” she said, choked by a variety of exotic, invasive vines. And although English ivy is poisonous to humans, she said goats eat it, apparently without problems.

Leroy, however, may have consumed something Sunday that didn’t agree with him. He became wobbly on his feet. Cassilly led him back to her trailer to look after him. Some other goats tried to follow, and one bleated several times before they all settled down to browse some more or digest their brunch.

The goats drew a trickle of visitors, including Aaron Ziegel, an assistant professor of music history, his wife, Audra, and their delighted 2-year-old son, Julian.

“He loves goats,” Julian’s mother explained as he patted one. She pronounced them “a good, environmentally friendly solution” to the university’s ivy infestation.

Nov 242014


By Jane Dail
November 24, 2014

East Carolina University officials last week debated a revision to its facilities and activities naming process, a step they deemed necessary before moving forward with a possible change to one of the university’s residence halls.

The board approved the Policy on Naming University Facilities and Activities but not without debate on one sentence that states, ”Names should not be altered simply because later observers would have made different judgments.”

Trustee Deborah Davis said that although the new policy is stronger and points toward a good direction, she wanted that sentence out.

“I, too, like others, am concerned that one particular sentence being left in,” she said.

Trustee Max Joyner, a member of the Athletics and Advancement Committee that recommended the policy, said UNC Greensboro has the same policy, and every part of it was necessary.

“All this has been vetted,” he said. “There’s a reason for all of it.”

Board Chairman Robert Brinkley said the sentence in question is intended to convey the importance of setting a high standard when naming facilities.

“As chair, I’d like — regardless of whether that sentence is in or not — I’m very proud of where we’re headed and how we’re going about this,” Brinkley said. “I feel like it would be a good policy with or without this sentence.”

Trustee Danny Scott said he appreciated the work of the committee, but the wording of the policy is up to the full board. He made a substitute motion to delete that sentence, which failed 7-5. With the exception of changing one word in another part of the policy, it passed 9-3.

The board also unanimously approved a request for the chancellor to create an ad hoc committee, according to the new policy. The committee would consider renaming Aycock Hall, with a formal recommendation for a board vote no later than its February meeting.

Aycock served as governor of the state from 1901-05. He reportedly was a leader in a white supremacist movement in the 1890s and used intimidation to suppress black voters.

Scott expressed frustration for how long the process is taking — the talk about the change started in June. He said he was told to wait until the committee had revised its naming policy. He said he wanted to vote on the change as soon as possible, during a December phone conference call, rather than the February meeting.

“I don’t see the need to drag this on to our February meeting,” he said. “… Nothing is going to change between now and February with Charles Aycock and Charles Aycock’s legacy. I think this has been vetted out long enough.”

Joyner said the university never has removed a name from a facility, and care needs to be taken during this process.

“It needs to be done in a meeting with the public,” he said.

Phone conference calls are open to the public.

Scott said the board has had ample time to make a decision.

“This is not a personal issue,” he said. “This is an issue that I’m looking at as a board member. … It’s about doing the right thing for the institution and for the students here.”

Joyner said that since the building was named 54 years ago, a decision can wait a few more months.

ECU senior Tyree Barnes came to the meeting with about 20 students in support of changing the name of the hall. He said the university seemingly has become apathetic about the issue.

“We have lied to ourselves long enough and pretended that Mr. Charles B. Aycock’s name on our campus is not one of the sources of our indifferences,” he said. “For some, it may be difficult to empathize for our desire to change such a historical monument which has thrived at East Carolina University for so many years. However, when I walk down College Hill, I am not reminded about the brilliance of East Carolina University. Rather, I am constantly reminded of the mental and physical degradation of my ancestors.”

Barnes said Aycock may have made positive changes during his time, but removing his name can allow the university to be a leading example.

“The physical wounds have healed, yes, but his name is proof that the psychological wounds have not,” he said.