Unbridled support for an institution is harmful. If we are not willing to critique something we love, then we are not being responsible members of our community.
That is what this board sought to do this year. We met twice a week, through all the stress, to discuss the issues we thought to be most troubling. We hope you found our thoughts to be, at the very least, provocative and we hope that you had conversations about how to improve this place with your peers.
Throughout the year, in response to many of our editorials people often ask us, “Why do you hate UNC?” or “Where is your Tar Heel pride?” or “Why don’t you just transfer?”
In a time where UNC’s public relations spending is skyrocketing, it may make us seem like we are anti-UNC. We are vocal critics of the University after all. We are not angry at being labeled anti-UNC, but we do feel it to be incorrect. Here is the secret — we do love this university very much.
If you read some of our less controversial pieces, you will find this to be true. There is a lot wrong with the institutions of this university, but there is still a lot right and a lot to love.
This university prides itself on being the school of the people, and that is what we love most about this place — the people.
We love the inspirational professors we are privileged to learn from, we love the brave students leading the fight against sexual assault and racism, we love the friendly people working in our dining halls, we love getting to see Chancellor Carol Folt interact with students in the quad, we love the underappreciated library staff and so much more that binds us to this place.
No amount of public relations — despite the University’s best attempts and millions of dollars — can ever synthetically create this love. It is not a feeling that can be put on a powerpoint or conveyed in an admissions tour. It’s something you have to organically find on your own.
Discussing pressing ideas with friends and professors means more than fancy banners, and having the opportunity to go through this school with people we enjoy is far greater than having a “recognizable brand.” Trying to commodify or sell this love will only cheapen its meaning.
Ultimately, we would not have put in the effort and time to criticize this place if we did not want to positively change this institution.
The University is a public, democratic institution that is bound to have flaws, but as we have seen from the past, shrouding our flaws with lies and a lack of transparency only allows them to further embed themselves within our system. Which in turn leads to unprecedented public relations scandals.
We are not unreasonable — we know times are tough and that change often comes slowly — but as the University is seemingly more concerned with finances and its image than its people, something needs to be said to make sure we protect that which we love.
And so we beat on, critiquing UNC, demanding positive changes that allow more people in the future to enjoy this school and to feel more valued as students, faculty, staff, visitors and stakeholders. To achieve this bright future, we must peer past our pride to help foster a better community.
We believe anyone who truly wishes to see the best for this university will do the same.