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The Daily Tar Heel

A Young Democrat, a College Republican, and a member of the NAACP walk into the Union…

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? It’s a rare day when folks from these groups willingly come together, aside from the odd debate. And that means we miss out on the ideas, creativity and passion that exists outside of each of our comfortable UNC bubbles.

When Elie Wiesel recently came to UNC, he argued that our generation needs to work together better. And according to Wiesel, that requires “getting everyone in the same room talking.”

Imagine that: committing time without a prior agenda, open to building relationships and hearing new ideas. Greg Mortenson, another recent speaker at UNC, tells us that in Pakistan it takes “three cups of tea” to do business: “The first cup, you’re a stranger; the second cup you become a friend; the third cup, you’re family.”

Of course, it’s not just tea: The more historically inclined among you may think back to the free conversation of the 18th century coffeehouses in the U.S. and England. It may seem sentimental, but it can’t hurt to try, can it?

This Friday morning, the Black Student Movement, the Campus Y, the Carolina Review, Carolina United, College Republicans, Cornerstone, Episcopal Campus Ministry, the Faculty Council, Hillel, Muslim Student Association, NAACP, the Roosevelt Institute and Young Democrats invite the community to the Campus Y for the first three cups of tea, coffee or apple cider.

It’s an acknowledgment that no group is an island. More importantly, it is an agreement that community is something that students can build.

We’re here at UNC because we believe in the power of ideas: in the Chancellor’s innovation plans, and in Wiesel’s speech “Against Indifference.” There’s a belief that our ideas can change this campus, this state, and the world.

That doesn’t mean we should agree on everything – it would be boring if we did. But with an open mind, healthy disagreement can spur us to refine our ideas into more realizable goals.

Of course, conversation and cups of tea alone won’t fix the world’s problems.

But it’s a start.

Elizabeth McCain is a junior history major from Raleigh. Ben Elkind junior philosophy major from Silver Spring, MD. Contact McCain at and Elkind at

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