If not, can we truly say we are the university of the people and committed to community service and community outreach?
During my time at UNC, I have had amazing experiences interacting with people from the community that come to campus.
From giving random lost prospective students directions to seeing parents give their children tours around campus, it has made me happy to be a student here.
Moments like that renew my, at times, very shaky faith in our institution. It reminds me that Carolina is an extension of the Chapel Hill community, not an ivory tower.
In another sense, the fact our campus is open to the public can be a scary thing. Because it is easy for anyone to get on our campus, it is also potentially easy for someone to harm students, staff or faculty.
With the rise of domestic terrorist attacks, especially in churches and schools, the idea of someone attempting to attack our campus doesn’t seem too far-fetched or impossible, given how open our campus is.
I may be a bit less likely to think that an attack on campus is possible if not for a few reasons.
First, Chapel Hill is known both regionally and nationally as a liberal enclave. It’s not hard to imagine someone picking Carolina as the location of an attack.
Secondly, any time there is a threat on campus, we usually don’t know until much later, which is the fault of Alert Carolina. Because of that, the chances of more people being hurt if an attack were to occur is a real possibility.
Third, our campus police force has been too busy focused on undercover operations and infiltrating Silent Sam protesters instead of prioritizing the safety of students and staff.
I’d be lying if I said I have clear cut answers to these questions, but I do think that we should be able to accomplish keeping people safe without becoming fearmongering gatekeepers.
I think it’s a balancing act we must continue to work through every day.