One of the fun things about a new year is looking back and razzing the events of the old. January, after all, is named after the Latin god Janus, who has two faces, one looking forward and the other backward. With a new year fast approaching, let us look back on the nuttiest, most ridiculous happenings in higher education in North Carolina in 2002 — and look forward to more of the same in 2003.
Top 10 Nuttiest Campus Events in N.C. Higher Education 2002
10. Duke vs. the Pickle Giant. Pressured by student activists, Duke boycotts the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, citing unfair labor conditions. Duke, however, doesn’t cite specific complaints against the company, saying the allegations by the students were enough. Duke ended the boycott in August.
9. Lunatics "Teach-In" at UNC-CH. Among the "facts" brought to light: Black Americans aren’t really patriotic, despite appearances to the contrary; this whole war is just about oil; however, it’s also because Iraq is becoming independent from the U.S.; the U.S. is a greater terrorist threat than Iraq, anyway; Bush is another Hitler; and where the war’s not about oil and Iraqi independence, it’s about racism against the brown soldiers on both sides.
8. In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants Proposed. Senate Bill 812, sponsored by Sen. William N. Martin, D-Guilford, would have granted in-state tuition at UNC schools to illegal immigrants who had attended N.C. high schools for two years and graduated.
7. Fledgling Politicos Help Themselves. This past spring the student "leaders" of the UNC Association of Student Governments, fond of telling students they fight to lower their costs, got the UNC Board of Governors to pass a systemwide increase in student fees that would benefit (who else?) the UNCASG. The hike increased the UNCASG’s budget by 6,600 percent, from $2,500 to $165,000. Andrew Payne, UNCASG president (a position slotted to receive $4,000 from the increase), greeted the news just like a grownup graft-grabbing politician, saying the increase meant that "[t]he 170,000 students in this state have reached a new level of empowerment."
6. Former Terrorist Invited to Duke to Denounce the U.S. War on Terror. Duke’s Women’s Studies Department and the Black Student Alliance sponsored a talk by Elaine Brown, the first woman to head the domestic terrorist organization the Black Panther Party. Naturally, Brown called the U.S. government fascist, called the war on terror "the Bush s—," said Secretary of State Colin Powell was "unqualified and dangerous," called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice "really crazy," pronounced President George W. Bush "stupid" and a "cokehead," and charged that "Laura Bush killed her ex-fiance."
5. New Programs For Hurt Feelings. UNC-Chapel Hill has begun a new certificate program in "Sexuality Studies," in part "[b]ecause of widespread social stigmatization and discrimination against sexual minorities," according to the provost’s planning committee report. A gay committee member tells The News & Observer that the "environment [at Chapel Hill] makes us feel terrible. It makes us feel unwelcome."
UNC-Wilmington, meanwhile, has announced an initiative called "Project B-GLAD" (for "Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity") whose main reason for existence is "finding an avenue to address homophobia and intolerance towards gays and lesbians."
4. State Senator Hired at WCU. State Senator Steve Metcalf, D-Buncombe, was hired as director of local government relations for Western Carolina University. His position involves promoting regional economic development and requires him to raise 25 percent of his salary each year. Citizens, newspapers, fellow legislators, professors, and higher-education critics denounced the move as an obvious conflict of interest.
3. (tie) $520K Plus for Admins on Leave. While university lobbyists tell legislators that there’s nothing left to cut, according to The News & Observer of Dec. 3, "[Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Susan H.] Ehringhaus vacated her administrative offices by Oct. 21 and ... will receive benefits and her $188,321 salary through Aug. 31, 2004 [and also] up to $40,000 in travel expenses. ... [A]nother former administrator, Susan T. Kitchen, who resigned July 1 as vice chancellor for student affairs ... earned $143,291 last year [and] will be paid through June 30, 2003, for a 'research leave’ to study best practices in student affairs."
3. (tie) Embezzlement at UNC schools. While university lobbyists tell legislators that there’s nothing left to cut, according to The News & Observer of Nov. 24, property theft and misuse at UNC campuses included: "UNC-Chapel Hill paid tens of thousands of dollars for goods and services never received," including "more than $49,000 for advertising in nonexistent publications"; N.C. State placed someone with a criminal record in a position "where she had access to departmental credit cards" and who subsequently "made personal expenditures with state funds"; at least $34,000 has been stolen by employees at five different UNC schools, including $78,000 from the campus bookstore at N.C. Central and $67,000 from the campus radio station of Winston-Salem State; $157,000 had been stolen or misused in the past ten years by the manager of a scholars program at UNC-CH; and N.C. State had reported over $265,000 in possible theft and misuse just this year.
2. UNC-CH Teaches Freshmen About the Koran, Using Only Its 35 Most Approachable Passages. (No further delineation necessary.)
1. UNCW E-Rifles Through First-Amendment-Citing Professor’s E-Mail. In Prof. Mike Adams' reply to all the recipients of a student’s blame-America e-mail, he said "The Constitution protects your speech just as it has protected bigoted, unintelligent, and immature speech for many years. But, remember, when you exercise your rights you open yourself up to criticism that is protected by the same principles." Eine minuten, Herr Doktor; ve are not so sure of zat, said UNCW officials, who ransacked Adams’ email messages looking for evidence of threats or libel against the student, finding nicht.