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The Daily Tar Heel

Any brick you take can and will be used against you

UNC seniors have a habit of stealing bricks from around campus at the end of the year to keep as souvenirs.

UNC seniors have a habit of stealing bricks from around campus at the end of the year to keep as souvenirs.

In April showers, walking through campus can be an arduous ordeal as students jump across puddles created by divets in the brick paths. While some craters on the sidewalks are the result of worn and aging bricks, others are the consequence of students following a UNC tradition -- stealing a brick. 

First-year Surya Govindaswaami believes his experience taking a brick helped him grow closer to past and future UNC students. 

“I participated on LDOC of fall semester,” Govindaswaami said. “I wasn't afraid of any repercussions because it’s a long-time tradition that obviously management is aware of.” 

Rachel Cannon, a first-year who lives on Govindaswaami’s floor, has a different take. 

“I’ve heard of the tradition, but I have not participated and don’t plan to,” Cannon said. “I will remember Carolina by the memories and through my diploma, not through the destruction of property. I mean really, what am I supposed to do with a brick?” 

Govindaswaami’s clay trophy resides in his dorm room. His assumption that University management is aware about the tradition is correct, to some extent. This tradition is infamous, and various departments have a consequence system in place for students who are caught taking or harboring bricks. 

Chris Williams, a sophomore resident adviser at Hinton James Residence Hall, has filed incident reports after finding bricks in student rooms. 

“We have to file an incident report because in theory, it’s stolen property,” Williams said. “We have had incidents in which we found bricks in rooms, but as a student last year  just about everyone on the hall had a brick.” 

Carolina Housing is not the only department at UNC concerned about this thieving tradition, which is common among first-year students, but impacts all students on campus. 

“From the UNC Police perspective, the theft of bricks on campus is a criminal offense, as is any damage to or any theft of campus property, and areas where bricks are missing constitute a safety risk for those walking and/or riding bikes on campus,” said Randy Young, spokesperson for UNC Public Safety. “UNC Police investigates theft of bricks whenever it’s discovered by officers or reported to UNC Police.” 

About 1.4 million bricks make up the criss-crossing pathways that cover campus, and the Facilities Maintenance Masonry Shop replaces nearly 7,500 bricks each year. 

Despite the tradition’s recognition across campus, the University’s response in the past few years has appeared to play a role in its decreasing significance. Start-of-year meetings in student dorms include warnings against taking bricks, and stories of RA incident reports have managed to scare certain students away from stealing bricks. 

Despite the University’s attempt at swaying students away from this tradition, others remain unconvinced.

Govindaswaami said he has no regrets.

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