Carson’s legacy lives on through acts that ‘speak for themselves’

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Chancellor Holden Thorp addresses the hundreds who gathered Thursday to remember Carson. DTH/Phong Dinh

It’s because of the way she lived and the way she was killed that Eve Carson’s name is accompanied by a gut reaction.

But in a couple of years, all the students who can remember the former student body president’s voice, presence and friendship on campus will have graduated.

She will join a class of students who died during their time on campus and are memorialized through scholarships, buildings, plaques and traditions.

When that time comes, it’s not important that her name resonate the same way, friends say. Because to convey what happened and what she meant requires a sit-down conversation.

Instead, the things that now memorialize her — the scholarship for juniors, a new garden, a month dedicated to making every moment count — are designed to speak for themselves.

Carson’s company

On this day in 2008, students heard about a college-aged woman shot to death off East Franklin Street. Carson’s roommates couldn’t get in touch with her, and the next day the body was identified as hers. Thousands gathered in Polk Place to mourn the loss.

The impact was tangible.

“I regret never telling her how much I admired her,” said junior Katherine Novinski.

Novinski, who will be the next director of the Eve Marie Carson Scholarship, is a leader in an effort to ensure Carson’s legacy continues to be a part of campus life.

Whether she realizes it or not, Novinski is joining a small group in the University community of people carrying memories of other student deaths.

Four scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences are in the name of people who died while they were students at UNC.

Some staff at the Arts and Sciences Foundation keep in touch with the parents of Benjamin Woodruff, a student who died May 12, 1996 in a fire at the Phi Gamma Delta house. A Carolina Scholars scholarship is in his name.

There’s also a Carolina Scholars fund in the name of Kevin Reichardt, one of two people shot in January 1995 by Wendell Williamson, a student who opened fire on Henderson Street.

John Blanchard of the athletic department still remembers vividly the death of Jason Ray, a student who played Rameses and was killed in a car accident while away for a 2007 men’s basketball game.

“His mother has said to me numerous times, ‘I just don’t want Jason to be forgotten,’” Blanchard said.

A spirit award is offered each year in his name. But it’s hard, as it will be hard with Carson’s memory, as fewer and fewer students on campus remember him.

“There’s just a natural change in the intimacy in which people knew him,” said Blanchard, whose daughter was a close friend of Ray’s. “I’m not sure how to handle that other than just to continue to talk to them.”

Carson continued

Many of the things that now memorialize Carson were her ideas — and that’s what differentiates the tribute, said Thomas Edwards, director of the Eve Marie Carson Scholarship.

“Nothing has been memorialized in this way,” Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning said.

Carson helped shape the values of the University as the University shaped her, Novinski said.

“The things that have been started in her honor and to finish her legacy are things that are going to be here,” she said. “People will create new memories through those avenues.”

Novinski remembers hoping Carson’s idea for a scholarship for juniors could materialize despite her death. The scholarship is now in her name.

“There have been people who tell me, pessimistically, that this is all going to fade away,” Edwards said. “I consider it my responsibility to carry this forward.”

Carson got Edwards into student government and made sure he applied for a committee position, he remembers.

When Edwards works on the scholarship, sometimes he needs to separate himself from the emotion, he said.

“Sometimes you have to take a day off and just not do anything that relates to it,” he said.

Whoever takes over in a couple years might not need those breaks. At that point, it comes down to stories.

All freshman Allison Rowland knows of Carson is what her resident advisor told her in an e-mail this week, she said. The e-mail explained that March would have two weeks titled “Every Moment Counts” in recognition of the way Carson lived.

“She seems like a nice person,” Rowland said. “I feel like I should know more about it.”



Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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