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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC had the right response to article

There has been a lot of conversation the past few days about what was wrong with the Sunday New York Times article, “New Math on Campus.”

The story focused on enrollment trends and the gender gap at American colleges, and it featured quotes from several UNC students.

The assertion was that there are social consequences when the gender ratio is not perfectly split.

The Daily Tar Heel has done an excellent job of covering the debate.

On Tuesday, I attended a fireside chat organized by the Carolina Women’s Center, where the article was the focus of much conversation.

The general impression from this article seems to be that there is something wrong with UNC’s student body. But from my experiences with students at UNC, that did not ring true to me.

So rather than waste time talking about what was wrong with the article, let’s talk about what’s right about UNC students, which is just about everything.

We have a highly selective admissions policy because we need motivated, intelligent students to carry out our mission to “expand the body of knowledge, improve the condition of human life through service and publication and to enrich the culture.”

You have responded to that, which is why we receive more than 23,000 applications every year for admission to the University.

Once here, students demonstrate every day the success of our efforts to get the best of the best.

You excel, not just in the classroom but also in the research lab, on stage, on the playing fields, in the community and abroad.

You care about each other as individuals, and you work together to make not just our campus, but the world, a better place.

You know that the gender ratio at UNC is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been roughly 60 percent female and 40 percent male for at least 30 years.

You may not know that the pool of 23,000 applicants has exactly the same ratio, and that most colleges and universities around the country reflect it as well.

And yes, we had the same male-female ratio when I was a student here.

Granted, I didn’t have a particularly busy social life at the time either, but it never occurred to me to blame demographics.

I thought it was just because I spent so much time either hanging out in a chemistry lab or on the road with my band.

My point is that UNC has the best students in the world, and here’s why: Your reaction to this article has been thoughtful, articulate, reasoned and sensitive.

You are using it to have conversations about accuracy in journalism, problems in K-12 education and gender roles and expectations.

In short, you are doing everything we hope Carolina students would do.

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