Administrators at UNC-Chapel Hill have once again challenged students' perceptions by introducing a controversial book about wrongful convictions as part of its first-year reading program.
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A few years ago UNC-Chapel Hill was at the center of a controversy for assigning a book on the Holy Qur'an for its first-year reading program. The University is to be congratulated for continuing to provide a liberal education and for setting the academic tone for first-year students with its reading program.
Unfortunately many universities tout similar reading programs but thesir reading selection is far differnet. All too often, some universities offer milk-toast readings that fail to challenge students' perceptions of the world in order to avoid offending donors or providing fodder fo anti-intellectual critics of higher education.
The comments to this story are also worth reading, at least once. Like the phrase "Kilroy Was Here," Mr. Sharpe's comments challenging the issue of innocence are included with his criticism of the selection of the reading material by UNC-C. It is perfectly acceptable to challenge claims of innocence, either the 124 that the Death Penalty Information Center claims have been exonerated since 1972, or two as Sister Helen does in her latest book. Actual innocence is very difficult to prove. However, it has been proven in numerous cases. And that is the problem for people who attack the DPIC and researchers like Radelet and Bedau - there are well-documented stories of wrongful convictions. Included in these stories are shocking conduct by witnesses, police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
So, bravo UNC-C! Please continue to raise the consciousness of those who are fortunate enough to attend a great university.