After many moons of bitching for 16 inches in this very space, I have been inspired.
For five years I've trekked into The Daily Tar Heel office in the Student Union. There are signs on the walls, right near the newspaper rack, that direct you to the offices of the Yackety Yak, the Blue & White and the Young Democrats. There is also one for APPLES. I've walked past it a million times, and the only thought I had was that APPLES was the longest acronym I'd ever read. (Note: I am right. It stands for Assisting People in Planning Learning Experiences in Service. Christ. What a mouthful.)
Last week this group celebrated its 10th anniversary of service, and I say kudos to this fruity bunch.
This is a group of people who are dedicated to change, who get hype and who are selfless enough to make up for selfish people like me.
One character who works with the group, Paul Lee, spends two days a week leading a counseling group for mentally handicapped inmates at the Orange County Correctional Center.
This strikes me as ridiculous. While Lee is being a good kid, I'm usually drinking Miller Lite and watching "Behind the Music" and "Facts of Life" reruns. Lee's story reminds me that, contrary to my beliefs, there are students on this campus who give a damn and work to change things.
(Note: Stay tuned for harsh, sweeping generalization.)
Most students in UNC groups and organizations are self-serving goofballs who exist only to build their resume and pat themselves on the back. They bitch and moan and protest a lot. They march, have senseless demonstrations in the Pit and think up many slogans and chants. (Note: The real crowd-pleasers always start with "Hey, hey, ho, ho." Gang, get a new gig - that cheer is tired.)
The end result of all this pageantry is nothing. They disrupt a few classes or get a few glances from passers-by. They make little headway. And that's why it's time for a change.
It's not that I don't think some of these causes are worthy. You bet they are. But when it comes to the apathetic masses, or the UNC bigwigs who turn their heads (and presumably cough), they just aren't listening. I think drastic times call for drastic measures.
And I'd like to see someone get out there and mix it the hell up.
Allow me to take you back to April 1999. Several groups on campus, mainly Students for Economic Justice and others with lengthy acronyms, were bemoaning UNC's labor contracts with factories that make UNC apparel. Basically, SEJ and friends didn't want 5-year-olds in far-off Nike factories stitching interlocking "NCs" on UNC shirts without the University knowing about it.
SEJ called for interim Chancellor Bill McCoy to sign a contract that would require full disclosure of the locations of factories that make UNC goods. McCoy hedged and stalled.
And that's when these kids packed up their sleeping bags and slept in the lobby of South Building for 72 hours. They skipped meals and classes. They stank up the place because they also skipped showers. But it was worth it.
On the third day of the protest, McCoy inked a deal that met the demands of SEJ.
Every week, I have given the finger to a different group of retards at this University - chicks in Old East and Old West residence halls, the Honor Court, senior class officers, Director of Athletics Dick Baddour, Student Congress . and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.
And every week I offer a call to arms that usually involves violence. But my point is to show students the power they hold on this campus.
The SEJ sit-in is the perfect example - if you get nasty, make some people uncomfortable and have a little fire, you can effect change.
Paul Lee and the APPLES crew inspired me this week, and it felt good to laud them. High-five.
But to my fellow students - I bitch because you're so damn weak. Fight for all those acronymed causes and make it ugly. Do something different.
Because I'm tired of bitching.
Columnist Ashley Stephenson can be reached at email@example.com.