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The Daily Tar Heel

Say no to sexual abuse: University-sponsored Polanski tribute in poor taste

Filmmaker Roman Polanski has directed stellar films for decades. He has earned the title of “Best Director” at the Golden Globe Awards in 1975 and at the Academy Awards in 2003. He has been widely recognized, with almost all of his films subject to critical acclaim. At least that’s what I’m told.

I have never seen a Roman Polanski film and I never will. UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities is hosting a three-part series featuring Polanski’s films at no cost at the Varsity on Franklin Street. I certainly will not be attending.

Because along with his numerous accolades, Polanski was also convicted of statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, a crime for which justice was never served. Following his conviction, Polanski cowardly fled the U.S. to avoid sentencing. He has not returned.

Polanski pleaded guilty. The unconscionable crime has gone unpunished for too long. He owes an unpaid debt to society. And unless he plans on serving out his prison sentence, the University should not glorify him by holding a series in his honor.

UNC’s Honor Code, which upholds integrity and fairness at this great University, was established so that it could “protect the community from those who, for whatever reason, do not embody these values in their conduct.”

As a member of the global community, UNC has a responsibility not to support filmmakers who violate our code. We can and should uphold our own standards of integrity.

If the Varsity Theater wants to show a Polanski film this weekend, that is their choice. But UNC should not be honoring a convicted pedophile. Artistic talent aside, UNC should not lend a platform to him.

Sam Jacobson is an Editorial Board member for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior political science major from Bethesda, MD. Email him at

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