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UNC planning to remove campus tents after Commencement

Students study underneath one a tent on the quad on Sunday, April 24, 2022.

First-year Joy Jiang is an occasional user of the tents on UNC's campus. She likes to sit under them for shade on hot days while waiting for her friends to finish class or just to enjoy being outside.

Provost Chris Clemens announced this month that the tents will be removed from campus after Commencement, which is on May 8.

The tents were put up around campus during the pandemic to provide students with a COVID-19-friendly seating option.

Although Jiang admits the tents aren't the prettiest thing on campus, she said she'll miss the extra outdoor seating.

“It's sad that they're taking it down," she said. "Unless they have something that is going to go in the place of it, I wouldn't take it down."

Jiang also uses the tents to avoid being cramped indoors with people. She said the tents are helpful when the dining halls are packed with students and provide a safe space to sit outdoors during the pandemic and seasonal illnesses.

“The week before the last, like all of UNC, a very large portion of students got sick and some of us was due to allergies, others of us was due to COVID and then I know people who got the flu in April,” Jiang said. “So like sitting outside, especially if there's like a lot of people, it's really nice.”

Some students, like first-year Joseph Solomon, said they will not miss the tents at all. He said he often uses the tent directly outside of his dorm, but has always hated the one on the quad.

"It's got to go," Solomon said. "It's ugly. It's an eyesore. It blocks the view."

First-year Cassidy Thibodeau rarely uses the tents outside of quickly sitting down in between classes. She said the tents are useful in that they provide outdoor seating, and she feels conflicted about their removal.

"I think the ugliness of them outweighs how useful they are,” Thibodeau said. “Because I think there's other ways to incorporate seating outside that aren't these huge tents.”

Jiang and Solomon also said they wish the University would put something in place of the tents to provide more outdoor seating.

Solomon said he feels like a good substitute would be picnic benches or even swings.

"Like if they put out swings, I can guarantee you they would be used by someone every day," Solomon said. "And that someone is me. I love swings."

Currently, the University's plans for post-removal is to restore the areas underneath the tents, according to an email statement from UNC Media Relations.

Despite this, Jiang worries that the landscape won’t be the same again.

"It's just going to be mud in there," she said. "And no one's going to want to sit there." 

Regardless of what the University does after the removal, Solomon said he's excited that the tents will no longer obstruct the view of some of the prettiest places on campus.

“I think the majority of the student body will be glad that they're gone,” he said.

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