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Students sleep over in Hamilton to enroll

Photo: Students sleep over in Hamilton to enroll (Katia Martinez)

Sophomore history majors Lawson Kuehnert, left, and Zach Ward, right, camped out in Hamilton Hall on Sunday night awaiting an 8:30 a.m. registration for a seminar course taught by Richard Talbert.

Braving the skeptical looks of janitors, sophomores Lawson Kuehnert and Zach Ward got a 14-hour head start Sunday evening into Monday morning.

Camped out with sleeping bags, pillows and an alarm clock on the fifth floor of Hamilton Hall, the two eliminated any risk that they would be left out of an 8:30 a.m. in-person registration for a history class they’ve had their eyes on since last semester.

“We did get some weird looks from the janitor earlier in the night. They didn’t really know what to do when they saw us,” Kuehnert said. “We got the class and it was only one night, so it was definitely worth it.”

The prized HIST 392 course focuses on ancient Rome and is taught by Richard Talbert — the main reason the two sought after the class.

“His seminars always fill up immediately since he’s a pretty phenomenal professor,” Kuehnert said. “If you could put historians on a ranking, he’d be at least the third best.”

History majors who want to take a seminar in their next semester are required to register for the seminars in-person.

Ward said they were the only ones in line until 4 a.m., when another student arrived. At about 6:30 a.m. Monday, there were about 20 people, and there were about 40 students when registration finally opened, they said.

Ward arrived at about 6 p.m. Sunday and spent his time studying and staking out a sleeping spot on a couch until Kuehnert joined him at 10 p.m. with a sleeping bag and pillow in hand.

Lloyd Kramer, the history department chairman, said he has never heard of students sleeping in Hamilton Hall to get a class, but he said he is glad for the excitement the students showed.

“It’s nice to know the history department has become this big of an event,” Kramer said. “It just shows how popular history is as a major.”

The seminar focuses on how Rome stayed successful as long as it did. The seminar is fairly popular, but Talbert said he was shocked when he heard that students had camped out for it.

“I don’t know whether or not Rome deserves this kind of attention, but I hope they had a sing-song time,” Talbert said.

Talbert, an internationally renowned classics scholar, has been a professor at UNC since 1988 — “almost since ancient Rome,” he said.

Ward said he came at 9:30 a.m. last semester — only an hour after registration began — and most of the seats in all the seminars for the entire department were already taken.

“There were only a few seats left so I just waited for this semester to enroll in the seminar, because I really wanted this class,” he said.

Every undergraduate history major has to take one of the seminars before graduating.

Kramer said that even though most students get into a seminar, he knows how competitive it can be to get a specific one.

“They should be happy because their dreams have come true,” Kramer said.

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