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The Daily Tar Heel

The 2023-2024 school year has been abnormal to say the least. We started the year with a campus shooting and are ending it with students going against University policy to urge UNC to divest from Israel in support of Palestine. The Editorial Board discussed its main grievances with UNC and the improvements we hope to come back to in the fall. 

On-campus housing

UNC is in the midst of a housing crisis. In January, there were around 300 more students on the housing waitlist than there were in January 2023 — an incredible increase caused by various factors, including more demand for on-campus housing and plans to close Avery Residence Hall for renovations. The off-campus housing situation is not much better, as students wishing to live off-campus have to battle a highly competitive market and continually increasing rent. Not having housing for the upcoming school year is scary, stressful and frankly not something students should have to worry about.

While it may seem like the underlying issues causing UNC’s housing crisis are out of the University’s control, there are steps that Carolina Housing and the university could take to substantially ease the burden on students. For starters, Carolina Housing could eliminate the cancellation fee that students on the housing waitlist are required to pay before canceling their housing contract. The university should look into expanding on-campus housing options to ensure they have enough beds for all students who wish to live on-campus. 

When we return to school in the fall, we hope that Carolina Housing has a comprehensive plan to address the on-campus housing crisis, both in the short and long term. 

ConnectCarolina

ConnectCarolina is not a kind mistress to anyone, to the point that experiencing its torture is a rite of a passage. It has an incredibly confusing interface, turning what should be a stressless task into long scavenger hunts searching for the right tab or constant refreshes of your page to see if the class you desperately need opened — all to realize your shopping cart reverted to last semester's. 

It is an open secret just how terrible registration can be with such an antiquated system, and despite those concerns being well-known, there has not been much done to make the student portal any less nerve-wracking. The University made some changes: increasing the number of waitlisted credit hours to 12 and not counting them as part of the 18-credit open enrollment limit, creating a "Swap to Waitlist" option and removing the seat limit for the waitlist. There is also now an informational tile showing the waitlist position students are in for their classes, letting students avoid the unwieldy process of navigating the shopping cart to click on the class number. Though these are steps in the right direction, it does not change the more pressing matter of students being kept out of classes they desperately need to graduate on time. 

The issues with ConnectCarolina's database can only be solved by overhauling the current website and redesigning it to be something user-friendly, as well as providing systematic improvements like notifications for open classes and waitlist changes. However, the larger issue of greater demand than supply for classes is something UNC must tackle head on. 

Outdated infrastructure

While UNC is prized for being the oldest public university, some buildings suffer from just that. Many buildings on campus are outdated and in dire need of renovation. Between dorms, academic buildings and athletic facilities, students and staff need updated physical infrastructure.

UNC has a maintenance backlog of $1.1 billion. In dorms, this could look like updated air conditioning systems, new showers and more laundry washers. For academic buildings, fixing the deteriorating bricks, slow elevator systems and drinking water filters are potential improvements. 

While UNC has been working during the summer to renovate buildings, some renovations have been needed for many years and need to be prioritized. Students expressed concerns about mold in on-campus dorms earlier this year due to outdated air conditioning ventilation. Issues like mold are a threat to the health of students and emphasize the urgency of renovations.

A University for everyone 

American journalist Charles Kuralt once called UNC “the University of the people.” The actions of our combative governing body threaten this promise. Upon the student body’s return to campus this August, we will be in the heat of not only a late Carolina summer, but a general election. The political and societal landscape makes for a tumultuous time on and off campus. With the push and pull of battling ideologies, how can we come back to Carolina and embrace one another with mutual respect, integrity and equity?

The funneling of money into the School of Civic Life and Leadership, the threat to D&I initiatives and the undercutting of our vital humanities departments — each of these actions could very well change the University as we know it. Division seems to have only grown deeper and wider. Next year, the University will be welcoming its newest class, the first in over 30 years to have been selected without the guidance of affirmative action measures. What this will mean for campus culture is to be seen.

We hope that when we come back, the University remains one of and for the people. We call on the UNC System Board of Governors and the administration to love UNC for what it can be, rather than installing regressive measures to send it back to the last century. The University should continue to support the inclusion and elevation of underrepresented communities, affirm the necessity of a liberal arts education and detach itself from the ideological battles that could wrench it apart.

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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