boxillrefutesMy inner copy editor winced while reading the News & Observer‘s lead headline last Sunday: “Boxill refutes accusations.”

Former faculty chair and philosophy instructor Jan Boxill certainly rebutted or challenged accusations made against her in connection with the UNC-Chapel Hill athletic/academic scandal, but she refuted nothing. Refutation implies that Boxill proved that the accusations were wrong.

I was willing to ignore the misuse of “refutes” until reading this morning’s articles about Boxill’s clear involvement in dubious academic conduct involving Carolina student(?)-athletes.

The emails are primarily between Boxill and unidentified students regarding papers the students were writing. They show Boxill editing grammar, suggesting approaches and inserting content.

“The paper is good,” she wrote to one player, according to an email exhibit released by UNC on Thursday. “I added a brief conclusion which follows nicely from what you have.”

Boxill then tells the student to hand deliver it when it’s finished to Deborah Crowder in the African and Afro-American Studies Department. …

… “I’ve attached your paper,” she wrote to one player. “I made some grammatical changes, and added some quotes if you want to use them. Also the conclusion is good – I edited it.”

Then she added: “Sorry about the game. I was so sure we were going to win in regulation!”


* An excerpt from an email from a student, whose name is redacted, to Boxill:

“… I want to discuss my last history paper, we wrote it together on one of our trips but I got a 50% on it. I’m not sure why because we worked on it together.

“Also, my exam I got a 74% on my exam, that’s wayyyy better than my first exam but I’m a little confused as to why it wasn’t a B?”

* An excerpt from an email from a student, whose name is redacted, to Boxill:

“Hey, pal, here’s the paper I sent to prof. Watts for my final paper. … Thanks for letting me use this paper for the final paper for your class too because you know how busy I am here.”

* An excerpt from an email from Boxill to another teacher about an athlete’s work in her class:

“(Redacted) has sent you her paper on (redacted) — did you get it? She has one of the reviews done and should be sending that today as well. I am hoping that these are sufficient for perhaps a C+ and we can get the grade changed tomorrow.”