Surely everyone has seen those young women throughout the campus who stand out from the rest of their classmates—instead of wearing some of the more popular revealing tops and holey low rise jeans, they wear head scarves and long sleeved, modest tops. Many students at the campus see these girls and often wonder why it is they wear the scarves—is it a form of suppression for women? They wonder—but very rarely do they voice their questions.
Instead, they take their information of the Muslim culture and character from the media, whose representation of Muslims is not usually fair or accurate. Newspapers and television stations across the United States have linked “Muslim” and “terrorism” together as if to have one there must be another. September 11th had a mixed effect of creating a new interest in learning more about the Muslim religion as well as an interest only in condemning Muslims—or a new phenomenon of Islamophobia. According to the Runnymede Trust, an independent group in Britain created to promote multiculturalism in Britain, there are several factors in Islamophobia including: Islam is seen as separate and ‘other’ and doesn’t seem to have common values with other cultures; it’s seen as inferior to the west—barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist; Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening and supportive of terrorism; Anti-Muslim hostitlity is seen as natural or normal. Many of these above factors can be found throughout western media—in newspapers, the evening news and in Hollywood films.
Because of such portrayals, it’s hard to gain an accurate understanding of Muslim faiths and traditions. In talking to students around the campus, I discovered that a great many students are in the dark about Islam. Yet, here at the University, students have no excuse to remain ignorant about the Muslim religion and its culture.
There are many resources around campus to learn about Muslim culture and—more importantly—there are Muslim students who are willing to share what it means to be Muslim.
Before I spoke with Taiyyaba Qureshi, the Outreach Coordinator for the Muslim Students Association, and some other Muslim students, I had very little experience with Muslim students. It is far too easy to assume that just because someone looks or dresses differently, they must be different in every way imaginable.
Truth be told, I was nervous when I met Qureshi and two other girls that she had brought with her—I wasn’t sure what to expect. Each girl—Qureshi, a senior at the University, sophomore Ola Mohamed and sophomore Tarannum Khan—wore the traditional headdress often associated with Muslim women known as the hijab. The hijab is a type of head covering that comes in several styles, though the most common style is a square fabric that is folded into a triangle, placed over the head and fastened under the chin.
My questions were greeted with an eagerness from the three girls which helped me come to a realization: these girls are not that different from me. They too have voices which they aren’t afraid to use, dreams, hopes and ambitions.
Qureshi was born in New York but grew up in North Carolina. She also had the unique experience of attending a Christian private school because her November birthday made her younger than her elementary school peers. Generally, religious differences don’t really take hold of people until they are old enough to look at who they are and what makes them believe the way they do. Qureshi was no different. It was not until high school where she really began to identify herself as a Muslim and took an active role in the religious community. After September 11, she became somewhat of a “poster Muslim” when she began speaking to small groups that requested information about the Muslim religion.
Qureshi has never experienced hate-related discrimination, though she has noticed that people will treat her differently, often out of ignorance.
She recounted the tale of a trip where she and her mother got lost. In the process of completing a U-turn the woman in the car behind them yelled “Well, welcome to America!” as she drove by.
In addition to being treated like foreigners from a different world, Muslim students are often confronted with a sort of false familiarity.
Mohamed noted that she had known someone for almost three years before she was finally asked about why she wore the hijab. And when the friend asked, everyone in the class started paying attention.
The purpose of the hijab, as I learned, serves a very interesting purpose. It isn’t a way to suppress women or hide them, rather it is a means of modesty. Two places in the Islamic holy book the Qur’an the hijab is mentioned as a way to attain modesty. While some westerners would argue that the wearing of the hijab is an old practice that should be banished—take for instance French President Jacque Chirac who signed into law a rule that banned conspicuous religious symbols such as the hijab and veils in 2004—the hijab has its supporters.
And those supporters are the women who wear them.
“(The hijab) protects beauty and shapes it in a dignified way,” said Mohamed.
The modest clothing allows for something to shine through that often is lost in western culture because of the importance placed on looks—and that something is personality.
“It really liberates who we are,” said Khan. “We’re free to concentrate on our insides.”
Our society often complains about the objectification of women. Any given person flipping through an issue of Cosmo will see the same image portrayed over and over again in different ways: thin yet scantily clad women where the main focus is on her sexual appeal. These women are objects of desire, not people. Yet that is often what real women end up striving for, because that is desirable.
One example as Qureshi noted, was a job interview. While looks are not supposed to matter in the workplace, it is not surprising to find that a woman of a more attractive nature will be hired over one whose looks are less than appealing. With the hijab, she said, it’s not necessary to wonder “is my skirt too short? Too long?”—in other words, a Muslim woman applying for a job would not be selling herself based on what she looks like, whereas among western culture that is much more likely.
At the same time, the wearing of the hijab is not compulsory. You cannot tell a Muslim woman based on the presence of the headscarf, after all many do not feel that it is necessary.
While the hijab helps maintain modesty, it isn’t necessary to have it to be considered modest. After all, modesty comes from within, as freshman Farah Siddiqui noted. She is one of several Muslim girls who have left the hijib behind yet managed to hold on to their modesty through their actions. The hijab, she said, is symbolic of the connection with god and she said that if a person felt comfortable with the connection inside, then the physical symbol would not be necessary.
As far as the association of Islam and terrorism goes—there is no valid substance to the charge. Few people fail to realize that the issues behind terrorist acts go far beyond the religion. The religion itself is a peaceful one. With sayings such as “With every hardship comes ease” and a customary greeting such as “peace be upon you” there is little call for violence. Like any religion, Islam values life.
But—just like with any religion—there are people who have their own distorted motives who use their religion a justification for their actions. History is full of examples where religion has been the motive of violence despite the peaceful intentions of the religions. The Crusades fought during the middle ages and other “Holy Wars” such as the Spanish Reconquista are two such examples.
But should students of the same faith as the perpetrators be held accountable for someone else’s actions?
“Not every Muslim knows every other Muslim,” said Mohamed.
Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor, is a specialist in Islamic studies and has been passing his knowledge on to students for 25 years—14 of which have been at Carolina. Ernst began focusing his attention on the Muslim religion after he realized how little was known about it, and he maintains that the field of Islamic studies is understaffed.
He also noted that interpersonal relations are the most important part of learning about muslim culture—if you want to learn about the lives of Afghan women, talk to one—or several.
“Stereotypes are like comic book characters—they don’t stand up to a lot of examination,” he said.
Muslims around the world are in fact much more than the stereotypes perpetuated by the media would leave you to believe. They aren’t all extremists nor are they terrorists. In fact, many of them wonder why westerners have such negative opinions of them.
Muslim students like Qureshi feel that this is an exciting time for their faith as it is beginning to come into its own. People throughout the world are beginning to ask questions and look for answers.
“You don’t really choose your situation (but) looking back I’m really lucky,” said Mohamed. “I really enjoyed the experience of being a Muslim in America.”
While Hollywood spent the last year rolling out films about diversity, identity, and acceptance, UNC has mostly remained in the 1950’s mentality. One glaring example was the hate crime inflicted last year on a UNC student who was beaten on Franklin Street by a gang of men. But, every day there are less obvious, or less reported, incidents on our campus which are mostly unacknowledged by the straight community. For example, how many times you have heard, or even used, the phrase “that is so gay” or the word faggot? How often do you actually see same-sex couples showing public affection on campus? How many university-sponsored LGBTIQ events have you attended or seen advertised? Do you even know what LGBTIQ means? (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex, Queer) These slights may not seem like a problem to the average heterosexual Carolina student, but their combined weight takes a toll.
Recently, I interviewed Robert Wells, editor of LAMBDA, the oldest student-run LGBTIQ publication in the country. Russell identified safety as the biggest concern for LGBTIQ students on the UNC campus. He said that very few students feel comfortable being “out” on campus for fear of the repercussions. In his time at UNC he has often felt the slap of intolerance and homophobia. One such incident was when his former roommate, a heterosexual, walked in on him and his boyfriend kissing. Even though they were both fully clothed, the roommate flipped out and recruited a posse of six other students who threatened him with physical violence. The tension became so severe that Robert was forced to seek other housing for fear of his safety.
There is more at work here than just blatant intimidation. The feeling of security is a basic human need, and the feeling of acceptance is key to fulfilling that need. In Sara Carucci’s article “Say What?” in the LAMBDA volume 29 edition, she expressed the frustration at the chancellor’s attempt to promote UNC as tolerant and inclusive of the “gay and lesbian community.” She explained that while his words were well intentioned, they showed the continuing ignorance that some straights still have. As Sara points out, you cannot place everyone into either gay or lesbian categories. What about students who are transgender, or transsexual, intersex, or queer? What little box do they fit into? Are they under the protective umbrella of tolerance at Carolina?
Perhaps part of the problem is that straights don’t understand the difference between any of those above terms, but the fact is that they are all very different and some have nothing to do with sexuality. For example, gender is a social construction; sex is biological, and the two have little to do with one another. A person’s sex can be male, female, or intersex, formerly called hemaphrodic. Gender refers to the norms we attribute to the sexes: boys should play sports and be tough; girls should look feminine, get married, and have kids. Yet, transgender people identify with norms that are considered opposite of the norms of their sex. They feel trapped in the wrong body. A small minority of transgender people may also become transsexual and live full time in the gender they identify most with, often through surgery, in order to feel more comfortable in their own skin and their surroundings.
Queer is a tricky term in its own right. Once a derogatory term, it has been adopted as part of a more radical movement for homosexual rights. More recently, it has been used as a general term for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, though the three are very distinct. In fact, bisexual people are still struggling for recognition as a separate identity as most label them based on which sex they are dating at the time. When I asked Russell to provide his definition of bisexual, he said that it is different for each person, and that the best way to know is to ask them what it means to them.
So I did. When asked separately, four of my bisexual friends gave basically the same answer: “Honestly, I don’t really think about it. My sexuality plays such a small part in my daily life.”
A lesbian friend of mine agrees. She thinks that so many classifications only create more difficulty in finding acceptance in the straight world as it only draws attention to differences, when the point should be that sexual identity shouldn’t matter. To this point, I agree. While it is important to respect others’ differences, drawing so many distinctions may add to the problem.
In a perfect would, our differences would be embraced, or at the very least, respected, but since they aren’t, we need programs in place to help educate those with irrational fears, to protect those that are different, and to sincerely promote an atmosphere of acceptance of other people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, sex, age, sexual identity, or socioeconomic status. The University has made some steps toward that goal with the creation of Safe Allies. The program trains UNC staff, faculty, and students who wish to make themselves available to LGBTIQ students who need a person they can feel safe talking with. When I asked Russell how effective he felt the program to be in fostering a safer campus community, he had a mixed opinion. He said that while it does make him more comfortable to see the Safe Zone signs in advisors’ offices, the program still needs some improvement. The training courses are four hours long, which can be hard to work into schedules, training is not offered often enough, and the budget for the program is limited. At the time of this writing, Safe Allies spokespeople had not responded to a request for comment.
The LGBT-SA organization was formed to provide not only a safe and supportive network for LGBT students, but also to try to bridge the gap between them and the straight community. But even LGBT-SA has not been as effective as it could be. Though the club is rather large, very few members are actually heterosexual. Russell speculated that straight students may not feel like they are welcome to join, or are thrown off by the acronym thinking it stands for student alliance, not straight alliance. He acknowledged that the group has not spent as much energy on recruitment of straight students and said they needed to be the ones to take the first step and reach out to the straight community.
To his credit, Russell is reaching out his hand this month on campus. He directed the Kate Bornstein play “Hidden: A Gender.” It ran April 23-25th with free admission in the hopes of reaching as many people as possible. The play is based on a true story of an intersex woman of the 18th century who was forced to live as a male, but Bornstein’s twist moves the character to the present day in the setting of a Jerry Springer style talk show.
Leading up to opening night, Russell offered weekend workshops called Intersex 101 to discuss what intersex means, the ethics of gender assignments, and media portrayal of transsexuals and intersexuals.
While members of the LGBT-SA should be commended for their courage in reaching out and speaking out, it’s an unfair burden. Campus needs to be a safe place where individuality is encouraged rather than suffocated. It’s time to join the 21st Century.
1 comments Most Recent Post: 04/17 04:27PM by rmacklin
Monday, March 06 2006 @ 05:11 PM EST Contributed by: halman Views: 438
Given that a whopping $1,210.80 out-of-state tuition hike has been approved for next year, people are wondering: what can the Student Body President actually do for the student body?
The answer is plenty, as demonstrated by the SBPs of the past.
In 1999, then-SBP Nic Heinke’s administration argued down the proposed tuition increase for that year from $1500 to $600 dollars. Success came from protests, letters and lobbying, organized by the Student Government’s External Relations Committee. But Heinke achieved much more than this.
One-Stop voting for the town of Chapel Hill was organized by the Heinke and 2000-2001 Brad Matthews administrations. The Heinke administration successfully lobbied, using the help of local officials, for a bill that would allow One-Stop voting in North Carolina, and then for a voting site on campus. The Morehead Planetarium was chosen as the polling site by the Matthews administration, and, since October, 2000, Chapel Hill has held One-Stop voting there. Matthews and Heinke changed how voting works in Chapel Hill.
The Heinke administration started double-sided printing in computer labs. Student Government convinced the University to tell ATN to make double-sided printing possible, which ATN then easily set up. Today, double-sided printing persists; we can thank Heinke for six years of paper conservation.
Heinke’s achievements don’t end there; his administration began work on online voting for campus elections. His Information-Technology Committee found that using UNC’s Academic Information Services to run the elections would be cost-effective. AIS began work, which progressed through the next year in the hands of the Matthews administration and involved the Carrboro-based web company Webslingerz, Inc. to create the voting software. In February, 2001, online voting came to be, with voter turnout increasing substantially.
So far, we’ve seen Brad Matthews finishing Heinke’s projects. Matthews, in fact, worked on a set of his own issues to great success. He put a computer with internet access in Hamilton Hall and the Campus Y for checking email. Both of those computers are now gone, but they were appreciated for the years they were around. Clocks were installed in virtually every classroom because of Matthews. As many students know, those clocks may no longer function properly, but they do exist. Matthews went on a lighting tour of campus to identify poorly-lit areas which could be unsafe at night. He had lights installed in those locations.
Matthews’ grandest achievement was his progress in public transportation reform. Before 2002, students and townspeople paid for every bus ride. The Matthews administration got a proposal for fare-free busing in Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s budgets in 2000, but it was ultimately removed. After that, a task force of officials from the towns, UNC faculty, students and administrators formed to push the plan forward. From this group came a fee increase plan to raise money for the fare-free busing. The UNC Board of Trustees and the towns voted for funding the plan. After the Justin Young administration came to power and continued the work, fare-free busing came into being in January, 2002.
Not all tuition fights turn out as nicely for students’ wallets as Henke’s did in 1999 and 2000. Heinke’s success is, unfortunately, the high point of tuition battles in recent years, except for the years of the Matthews administration, in which no increase was proposed. The 2001-2002 Young administration struggled but ultimately lost the battle against a hike, but with good reason: North Carolina’s state government faced major budget cuts that year. The University’s Tuition Task Force met and proposed a $400 increase for all students. In protest, Student Government sent letters to the UNC system Board of Governors and representatives of many system schools attended the BOG meeting that would decide the fate of the tuition hike. The BOG did cut the $400 increase to $300, but increased tuition across the school system by 8% for in-state students and 12% for out-of-state students. The BOG has final say in such matters; Young could not beat the increase.
Two years later (the Student Government office did not have reports available on the 2002-2003 Daum administration), during the Tepper administration of 2003 and 2004, a $1,500 out-of-state tuition hike was proposed. Tepper had enough influence to get a board member to present an alternate proposal, in which the tuition raise would be spread out over a number of years. The proposal did not get the necessary support in the BOG, and the large increase passed a vote.
But Tepper’s time in office was not all failure. He worked to improve communication with the student body by starting a Student Government radio show on WXYC. This trend continued; Seth Dearmin ran a radio show this year. Plentiful updates of the Executive Branch website and the creation of the first-ever Summer Report to accompany the SBP’s usual March and October Reports furthered communication with students. He got a bike pump installed on the South Road face of the Student Union, which still exists as of this writing.
In 2004, Matt Calabria revised the Student Code to increase efficiency in the running of Student Government, fix mistakes in the Code, change the Elections Code and change aspects of the Carolina Athletics Association. Calabria even went far as to use his veto power to put changes into effect.
He also collaborated with Molly Broad, the UNC-system president, to bring a number of different legal music and movie download programs to UNC on a trial basis. The program created discussion of file sharing on campus and introduced students to legal methods of media downloading.
VoteCarolina, which now operates separately from Student Government, was a Calabria creation. Its goal as a voter drive initiative, to increase student turnout in elections, seems to have been met: 10,000 of the 14,000 registered voters age 18 to 24 voted in the November, 2004 elections.
Seth Dearmin, this years’ SBP, has a big achievement in the Mambo and Slice web programs, which allow student groups to publicize their events and easily maintain their websites. The exact story of how the programs came together is hazy; the October Report gives few details past the names involved: Student Government Chief of Staff Mark Laabs spearheaded the operation, with the Technology and Web Services committee and the Student Life Committee getting involved, among others.
A less concrete but still noteworthy success of the administration has been increasing the transparency of Student Government. Dearmin has held office hours, made appearances in the Pit and created an abbreviated version of his October Report, making the report easier to digest.
Other projects of the Dearmin administration had not come to a successful end by the time of his October Report. Dearmin lobbied at the state capitol for a bill which would allow Orange County residents and UNC students to vote anywhere in the county, turning the county into a “Super Precinct.” Progress ended when an Orange County Board of Elections member voted down the bill. Such a voting policy would have added ease to the Planetarium One-Stop process which was put together by the Heinke and Matthews administrations. Other plans, including increasing bus schedule availability, improving the online class registration system and making course evaluations public, were not completed as of October, 2005 and any headway into them since November has not been made public. Let’s hope that Dearmin’s March Report, which should be available by the time this magazine hits the stands, can say he finished some of his projects.
Since 1999, UNC has seen some SBPs accomplish a lot, and others not as much. The SBP has many areas of potential influence and control, but it is up to the SBP to use that power. It is all too easy to let those powers remain unused.
Almost all of this information was found in the March and October reports created yearly by the SBP’s administration, available at the Student Government Office in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. Other sources include the DTH archives and the Webslingerz Inc. website, available at www.webslingerz.com.
Thursday, March 02 2006 @ 05:46 PM EST Contributed by: Steven Views: 299
Any sci-fi fan can fire off a list of books, stories, and TV specials that taught the error of giving the machines too much power. In the Matrix, the machines eventually used human bodies as enhanced D batteries. In I, Robot, they turned their guns on us, to try to protect us from ourselves. In the Terminator series, they brought about the apocalypse for man kind. I could go on, but that might stunt your own creativity in making your own list. Regardless of the set up or of the gang of humans that fight against the machines to win back Earth from their cold wiry hands, the moral is always the same: If you give up too much power to the automated trend of our present day, it is going to come back to haunt you. These movies and books spoke to our generation, and generations before us, on a grand level, with armies of machines pitted against armies of humans, to teach us a metaphorical story. I can’t imagine that Ray Bradbury meant his novels to be prophetic. Machines launching other machines to rain hellfire down upon the human forces served more as a striking mental image for a fable than a logical prediction of war.
On the morning of the 13th, an American drone flew through the sky along the Iraq and Pakistan boarder, crossed the border into Pakistan, flew a few kilometers, and shot off at least 10 Hellfire missiles into three houses Damadola, a small village in the mountainous region of the country.
Apparently, US reconnaissance drones had tracked one of Al Qaeda’s top men, Zawahiri, to the village. US intelligence confirmed these images, reporting that Zawahiri was supposed to be in Damadola to attend a feast with others. The feast was to celebrate the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid. The information matched up with the images, and the order was given, the missiles were fired, and all hell broke loose.
After the smoke cleared, 18 bodies were found, and three were carried off. Of the fifteen confirmed dead, four were women and three were children.
Pakistani government claimed that US intelligence got it wrong and that Zawahiri was not in the village at all. According to BBC, the three houses were those of local jewelers, a low class job in tribal society, and thus unlikely hosts for Al Qaeda hierarchs. At the time that this is being written, there are no reports that confirm any Al Qaeda members were in the village, much less killed by the bombings.
Though there are reports that a band of anti-American Islamic fighters living in the village, there have been no bodies that link the dead with America’s target.
To make matters worse, the Pakistani government says that they were not informed that the US bombing was going to take place. In part of an agreement with the Bush administration’s war on terrorism, Pervez Musharraf agreed to open its boarders to US military actions as long as those actions were based on solid intelligence and as long as he and his administration were informed that the actions were going to take place. Though the Washington Post published that unidentified US and Pakistani intelligence officers conferred that the actions were discussed, the turmoil in Pakistan is not so easily subdued. Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has gone on record stating that “Pakistan cannot accept any action within our country.”
There were many anti-American protests claiming that Musharraf is a traitor for not protecting his people from America. Although these protests are common as of late in the Middle East, the fact that this is one of the few pro-American countries left in that area makes this carry more impact.
This is the second kind of attack in the Pakistani boarder. On January 8th missiles rained down on a cleric’s house in North Waziristan, another tribal village along the Afghanistan boarder, killed at least eight people.
The White House’s press secretary Scott McCellan refused to comment on the attack.
This begs the question: With so many automated aspects of such an attack, as well as other drone launched attacks, is there enough human interaction behind these attacks? If a pilot had been flying the plane to the village, would the attack still preceded? Though machines can be programmed to act ‘flawlessly,’ humans have the possibility to think ethically.
How much ethical freedom can we give up to war machines and to the idea of drone warfare? If ethical and moral decision making has been replaced by automation, we have crossed the line into the dawn of mindless war. The nobility and ‘rules’ of war would be thrown aside under the pretense of saving soldiers lives, but at the cost of killing civilians; and how much worse is this situation when the target is missed! Just because terrorists are from a certain area doesn’t mean that everyone in that area is an enemy worth killing. Even when we declare war against a country, bombings can only be carried out if the target has confirmed significance to the war, so we should surely hold more strict requirements when we plan on dropping bombs in a country that is our ally. The CIA has certainly found itself in a terrible position.
Henry Crumpton and Michael Chertoff had supposedly been working together on this attack that left seven women and children dead. Curmption, the golden boy of the CIA famous for “masterful covert operations on at least four continents” was appointed as the State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, a very public office. Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security operations, had been working with Crumpton on tracking the movements of al-Queda members. Homeland Security was apparently involved due to the link that the bombing had with tracking down and killing terrorists, and thus the call to drop the bombs could have come from Homeland Security, rather than the CIA. However, Crumpton, who claimed that “any act against terrorist organizations is an act of self-defense,” would still have gone through with the attack. Even John Kerry, who is usually one of Bush’s sharpest critics, has gone on record saying that “It was absolutely right to strike. I can’t tell you we wouldn’t do the same again.” Homeland security should be focusing on more direct actions of securing America, not out chasing ghosts in the desert. Drones are also being installed along the Mexican border, though they are unarmed; such action is more along the lines of what Homeland Security was meant to carrying out. But, seeing the results of the drone bombings in Pakistan, arming these border drones seems like a worse and worse idea. While Pakistan has been left in and disjointed mess, Washington seems to be surprisingly in one accord about the civilian casualties.
The only way to measure a risk/reward scenario is in the logical and ethical mind of a well informed human being, not in the wires and objectives of a machine. Protecting soldiers’ lives should be important, but there are places where human thought needs to be present. Should bombing a village not be one such place?
Monday, February 27 2006 @ 03:39 PM EST Contributed by: halman Views: 379
Given the tuition hikes for next year, including a raise of $1,210.80 for out-of-state students, you may be wondering if the Student Body President can actually do anything about it.
The answer is yes. The SBP, in fact, can do a whole lot more, too.
But first, the low-down on tuition. In 1999, then-SBP Nic Heinke’s administration argued the proposed increase for that year from $1500 down to $600 dollars. The success came from protests, letters and lobbying, organized by the External Relations Committee of the UNC-CH Student Government. But not all fights against tuition hikes go well.
In fact, fights against tuition have been primarily unsuccessful since then. The 2001-2002 Young administration struggled but ultimately lost the battle against a hike in the midst of major North Carolina state government budget cuts. The Tuition Task Force at UNC-CH that year met and proposed a $400 increase for in- and out-of-state students. The Board of Trustees accepted this proposal, and took it to the UNC-system Board of Governors for approval. Student Government sent letters to the BOG and representatives of many system schools attended the BOG meeting that would decide the fate of the tuition hike. The BOG did cut the $400 increase to $300, but increased tuition 8% for in-state students and 12% for out-of-state students across the school system. The BOG has final say in such matters; here SBP Young could not beat the increase.
During the Tepper administration of 2003 and 2004, a $1500 out-of-state tuition increase passed through the Board of Governors. Tepper had enough influence to get a board member to present an alternate proposal, in which out-of-state tuition would be phased in over a number of years. The proposal did not get the necessary support in the BOG. Again, the SBP lost the tuition increase battle.
Such battles can be won, however, as the Heinke administration shows. The SBP has power in ways other than just regarding tuition, of course. Tuition-hike failures don’t prove the SBP to be powerless.
The SBP has power over physical campus improvements. The Matthews administration, in power from 2000 to 2001, put a computer with internet access in Hamilton Hall and the Campus Y so that checking email was easier while on campus. Unfortunately, both of those computers are now gone. Matthews also got clocks in virtually every classroom. The same year, Matthews went on a lighting tour of campus to identify the parts of campus that were the worst-lit at night and thus could be considered potentially unsafe. He then got construction scheduled for the installation of lights in those locations. During Matt Tepper’s time in office, he got a bike pump installed on the South Road face of the Student Union, which still operates as of this writing. To prepare for the 2000 closing of the Undergraduate Library, the Heinke administration convinced ATN to move 15 computers into the Davis Library computer lab. This move offset the loss of the computer lab in the Undergrad, making the loss not as serious on the needs of students as it could have been. These improvements of university space demonstrate the power of the SBP.
The SBP also has sway in town issues, with more power than many realize. One-Stop voting for the town of Chapel Hill was organized by the Heinke and Matthews administrations. Carolyn Thomas, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, wrote a letter to the State Board of Elections at the request of the Heinke administration to grant the creation of the One-Stop voting site on campus following the passing of the One-Stop Voting Site bill in July, 1999. The Heinke administration had lobbied to get the bill passed. The Morehead Planetarium was chosen the next year by the Matthews administration to serve as the polling site. Since October 2000, the town of Chapel Hill has had One-Stop voting in election periods at the Planetarium. Matthews and Heinke as SBPs changed how voting works in Chapel Hill.
Another town issue the SBP can affect is the bus system. Before 2002, people paid per-trip for busing in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Matthews administration got a proposal for fare-free busing in both towns’ budgets for 2000, but it was removed before the budgets were passed. After that, a task force of officials from the towns, UNC faculty, students and administrators formed to push the plan forward. From this group came a proposed conditional fee increase with the idea that fare-free busing would come together shortly. The UNC-CH Board of Trustees voted for funding the plan. The town then agreed. After the Young administration came into power and continued to work for the plan, fare-free busing finally came into being in January, 2002. The SBP in this case became involved in town regulation and University and town budgets to create the transit system we now enjoy.
More obviously, the SBP can have major impact upon the operations of student government. In 2004, Matt Calabria revised the Student Code to increase efficiency, fix mistakes, change the Elections Code and change aspects of the Carolina Athletics Association. Calabria even went far as to use his veto power to put changes into effect. Years earlier, in the 1999-2000 school year, the Heinke administration pushed for online students voting in campus elections. After determining that using an outside company would be too expensive to run online elections, Heinke’s Information-Technology Committee found UNC’s Academic Information Services to be more than adequate for the job. The work progressed through the next year in the hands of the Matthews administration, the Board of Elections, AIS and the Carrboro-based web company Webslingerz, Inc., who created the voting program. In the 2000-2001 school year, online voting came to be, with voter turnout increasing noticeably. Implementing online voting and altering the student code are examples of the SBP’s power to change the processes of Student Government.
Technology is another area in which the SBP has some control. Though SPBs failed, year after year, to find a way for off-campus students to have internet access through the University, they have had more success in control over technical issues on campus. The Heinke administration made double-sided printing in computer labs happen. Student Government at the time convinced the University to tell ATN to make double-sided printing possible, which ATN then implemented without any reported technical struggle. Today, printing in the computer labs is still double-sided; the system has been in effect for six years.
The SBP has many areas of potential influence and control, but it is up to the SBP to use that power when necessary. It is all too easy to let those powers remain unused.
Almost all of this information was found in the March and October reports created yearly by the SBP’s administration, available at the Student Government Office in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. Other sources include the DTH archives and the Webslingerz Inc. website, available at www.webslingerz.com.
Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:54 PM EST Contributed by: Stephanie Views: 384
In the past three school years, seven students have committed suicide on campus. The most recent suicide happened at the end of the fall semesters during exam period. The spring semester was marred by the suicide of two students, and during the 2002-03 year, four students committed suicide.
Among the 10-24 age range, suicide is the third leading cause of death, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. In North Carolina, more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, influenza and pneumonia combined. The leading suicide method in North Carolina is through firearms.
Clearly, suicide is a serious problem in North Carolina. It was not until 1998 that the Surgeon General, then David Satcher, declared suicide a national problem. In 2004, eight years after suicide was deemed a problem, North Carolina released its plan to combat suicide. The plan, Saving Tomorrow’s Today, is available to the public online, and is a call to action for North Carolinians. It lists the warning signs associated with suicide and suggestions for improvement.
On the University level, motions are just now being set in gear to try to deal with suicide.
This past September, the University received a $63,669 Campus Suicide Prevention grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association. The University was one of 22 campuses across the nation to receive funding. The funds will have to be matched by the University which can be accomplished through fundraising.
Plans on how to spend the money are still under development. Glen Martin, a psychologist for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the project manager for the grant, said that the University will begin offering programs by the summer and fall semester. The grant will last through the spring of 2008.
The money will go to fund a liaison network around campus, an email-screening project, increasing parent awareness and a peer education program. The liaison network will be made up of different members of the campus community who will have received training. The purpose of the network will be to identify students who may be suffering from depression and grant them referrals so they can receive help. The online screening program would be an anonymous and voluntary test for students. Interested students could take it and then decide for themselves if they want to talk to someone about their results and find help. While Martin said that while the number or responses from such a screening program would not be great, it would provide help to students who are looking seriously for help.
Whitney Kinerley, a sophomore psychology major, is interested in organizing a peer group for students suffering from depression and their peers who want to help reach out. The group would be more than just a support group, Kinerley said.
Kinerley is not a stranger to depression, having struggled with it herself.
“People are very misguided about their ideas about depression,” she said. She recalled an instance where an ex-boyfriend asked her “Why don’t you just get up and get out there?”
Depression is not just something anyone can snap out of. Depression affects the mind and body. A few of the risk factors include an unwillingness to participate in activities that are usually enjoyed and a tendency to isolate oneself from their community.
While students do have a form of help on campus, the services are limited. CAPS offers six to eight free sessions for students, but for further help students have to seek long-term counseling outside of University services. In addition, CAPS can provide students with medication if necessary. In fact, as of February 1, CAPS has expanded its services so that it can provide students with medication over a long period.
“CAPS does what it can,” Kinerley said, but added that she cannot afford an outside psychologist.
65% of the students seeking help at CAPS are there because of depression.
Kinerley said that depression is similar to cancer in that it is a lifelong disorder and there are relapses. She also said that the college experience can be stressful for students affected by depression.
“College is one of the strangest contexts that we could ever live in,” she said. “We’re surrounded by people our age all the time and are never really able to be alone.”
Kinerley has big hopes for the peer group. She said that she would like to see two big meetings each year with guest speakers who can help shed some light on the problem of depression. She would also like to see the creation of private online forums with peer counselors so that any time a student is feeling troubled, help will be available without having to leave the room.
“Depressed people want so much to be normal, just like everyone else,” Kinerley said.
Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:46 PM EST Contributed by: Jamara Views: 451
The Civil War ended over a century ago, but there’s another war continuing over if the Confederate flag is offensive or not. Some southerners regard the flag as a tribute to the Confederate soldiers and southern pride. Others view the flag as a glaring reminder of the horrors of slavery.
Each of these viewpoints is held by various North Carolinians. The old north state has had its share of bouts over the Confederate flag. North Carolina may not seem as fanatic over the Confederate flag as its neighbor down below, South Carolina, but the flag still makes its appearances.
In Sanford, N.C., the confederate flag caused some disruption at Southern Lee High School. The flag was anonymously raised on the morning of January 12, 2006. There is no evidence of if the incident was racial or just a childish prank. The principal of the school, Hans Lassiter, is a black man. According to the Sanford Herald, Lassiter said: “It’s an image that justified 300 years of oppression. It was visible at lynchings, it was visible at Klan rallies, it’s become synonymous with racial animosity and hatred.”
Anne Hastings, who teaches Race Relations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said, “All you would do to understand why a minority would take offense to it (the Confederate flag) is read the history of the south.”
With the flag swooshing around in the hands of an angry bigot concealed under a white sheet, should it really be a wonder why some minorities would fear the flag?
There are organizations that use the flag to remember the fallen Confederate soldiers; not the hatred others spewed under the flag. In an email, Bruce Tyson of the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said:
“We believe that the various Confederate flags represent our heritage and principles, just as the American flag represents the heritage and principles of the entire American people. And just as there are events in the history of the United States that we would not want to repeat or that we would now not accept, so too slavery is an institution that we certainly reject. But, and this is the central issue, does the fact that the U.S. flag flew over injustice make it now an "evil" symbol? Does the fact that the U.S. flag flew while civilians were killed at the My Lai massacre mean we should despise it? Does the fact that U.S. soldiers killed hundreds, probably thousands of Indians mean that the U.S. flag should be put away in some historical closet? Does the fact that approximately 4 or 5% of white (and Black) Southerners had slaves in 1861 mean that the flag that was carried by them is now an ‘evil’ symbol? We do not believe so. Rather, as a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit civic organization we seek to educate our fellow citizens about those flags and the things they really do represent.”
When does reserving heritage become offensive? Some high schools in North Carolina have decided to answer that question themselves through instating bans of Confederate items. The bans sound like a sure way to bury the Confederate flag issue, but some of the schools have been forced to reverse the bans due to the impediment of the students’ first amendment rights.
In a high schools in Clayton and Lenoir, N.C., have reversed theirs bans on Confederate clothing. In Clayton, the ban was reversed after the superintendent and the school board attorney looked at several legal precedents including the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. They agreed that the ban on confederate clothing was unconstitutional.
Not all the bans are unconstitutional. In the Florida case of Scott v. School Board of Alachua County, Santa Fe High School was within its legal right to ban displays of the Confederate flag on school grounds because the school has prior incidents of racial tension.
Southern Lee High School also has a ban on confederate clothing as part of their dress code. According to the Sanford Herald clothing with the Confederate flag is forbidden by school policy.
Jack Boger, UNC-CH law professor and Deputy Director of the Center for Civil Rights said it would be likely that the ban is constitutional if the school has a history of racial conflict, but if the Confederate flag is the sole heritage symbol banned then “the case might become a little more problematic.”
This heritage symbol has been highly disputed and it is a flying homage to racism for many Americans, but even though the flag may be hurtful, there are instances where Confederate supporters have the right to display it.
It will be years from now for the issue of the Confederate flag to be solved if it ever will. Dr.Hastings said whites would have to acknowledge history and minorities would have to make themselves vulnerable and trust before the issue can truly be solved. “It’s definitely possible I think, but we have a ways to go before it’s probable.”