<![CDATA[The Daily Tar Heel: Opinion]]> Mon, 15 Apr 2024 19:18:36 -0400 Mon, 15 Apr 2024 19:18:36 -0400 SNworks CEO 2024 The Daily Tar Heel <![CDATA[Column: Second semester, best semester ]]> Before entering college, I'd always felt a certain affinity toward fall. There's so much to romanticize as I count the days until every item is made in a pumpkin version and I await the long duration until it's socially acceptable to put on my cozy Uggs.

And, I've never personally been a spring person.

So, it seems almost against everything I know to say I actually find the pollen-swirling days of spring to be the better semester here on campus - and it's not debatable.

First, beginning school in the cold month of January allows the weather and semester to have nowhere to go but up. Though moods may be low and students all over wish they could relive winter break, there's so much to look forward to.

After just a few more cold, dark weeks, students will no longer need to wear sweatpants everyday. The quad will suddenly overflow with students choosing to skip their lectures and recitations. Plus, it's about this time that I start to get very sentimental about the year: the progress, the struggles, the laughs, the hours spent huddled in Mitchell Hall during a shooting lockdown, the thrills experienced while rushing Franklin and waiting for Cormac Ryan to reveal the ACC regular-season championship trophy for all of Chapel Hill to see.

When you have something to reflect on, you can really grow - making the spring semester the embodiment of growth.

Students are finally at that point where they're in a full-blown routine and thriving. It's when I (embarrassingly) finally get past my pride and attend office hours for my classes. It's when I'm seasoned enough to brave the bottom-of-Lenoir lines all by myself.

Conquering social anxiety and finally taking academic accountability, I reach full bloom.

Spring semester is also the end of fake, conventional friendships for many people. It's the time I've been able to really click with the people I know are going to stick. Spring semester is when you realize a going-out friend might only be that kind of friend, and that's okay - because spring is not only a reminder of progress but an opportunity for renewal.

Fall just doesn't bring these types of opportunities. Fall is the time where I'm trying to just get through to go home for break in December. I'm not able to see how far I've come, considering I've just gotten started. While the semester may start off high, with much to look forward to, it ends in exhaustion.

Spring wakes me up. If I start getting overwhelmed, at least I can decide to soak up the sun while working on all my final projects, and I'm able to see my hard work from last semester cultivated through that coveted internship offer or GPA boost.

I know I'm going to be sad and bored in about four weeks' time when I no longer live with my best friends or get to grab a delicious Meantime coffee. As I begin to mourn the memories of a resilient and transcendent semester, spring prepares me to throw away my mattress topper and never look back.

I'm in full bloom.


<![CDATA[Column: Being multiracial doesn't mean you have to 'choose']]> I've been told that being multiracial means experiencing the best of both worlds.

People might envision a harmonious mixture of two cultures, languages and long-established traditions. While this image is partially true, and I've been fortunate enough to be exposed to both sides of my heritage, the reality is a strange, nuanced middle ground where it's difficult to assimilate into one community.

Ever since I was aware of my racial identity, I've struggled with the feeling of never completely belonging to either the white or Filipino half of my ethnic background. I'm a second-generation child, so I was not raised in a strictly Filipino household. The few words I know in Tagalog wouldn't get me far, a fact that study abroad students can attest to.

In high school, I grew accustomed to forming friendships with those of the predominant demographic, which happened to be white. Still, I faced various microaggressions and stereotypes that many Asians are subject to. At the same time, I was once told by a classmate that I didn't count as a person of color. It seemed as though I had to choose to embrace only one half of my heritage since my peers were prompt to invalidate the other.

A significant shift occurred when I came to UNC because I could interact with more Filipino Americans and learn about that side of my culture; however, in the beginning I was unable to relate fully to their experiences. Amid vibrant conversations in Tagalog, all I can do is awkwardly nod along.

I started to slightly adapt my demeanor for different companies, similar to a chameleon. I didn't want to be seen as a watered-down version of either culture. I wanted to fit in.

I know I am not the only individual with these sentiments. Although only about 5% of UNC identifies with two or more races, this population is growing immensely in the U.S. It's time to recognize this group's prominence so its members can escape a lingering sense of otherness.

Fortunately, I've already seen progress in the language used to describe diverse backgrounds. In the past, I've had to choose between races in surveys; now, the choices are checkboxes or include a multiracial option. Nonetheless, we still need to extend this recognition to other mediums. When I referenced The Daily Tar Heel's style guide to see how to properly address the word "multiracial" or "mixed race," there wasn't a corresponding section.

Then again, some multiracial people choose to identify as mono-racial, which is entirely acceptable as well. What's not acceptable is for someone to assume that they know another person's identity. Forced racial categorization only diminishes the validity of an individual's self-identification.

Like other aspects of my identity, appreciation for my heritage has evolved with time. As a result of increased conversation about racial identity and multiracial representation in the media, I don't feel like an imposter in social settings, nor that I have to declare that I'm half Filipino or half white in case I fail to fit in.

When I was younger, I quit folk dancing because I didn't feel "Filipino enough," but this semester I folk-danced for the first time since then as a proud member of the Filipino American Student Association of UNC.

This is just one example, but it's shown me how crucial it is to resist the socially imposed urge to live inauthentically, and instead embrace complexities in your background without apology or explanation. One's identity should be rooted in themselves, not the way the world tries to define them.


<![CDATA[Column: Yik Yak isn't the problem. Social media is.]]> On Feb. 29 in a Board of Governors meeting, UNC System President Peter Hans announced his intention to ban anonymous social media apps in an effort to prevent cyberbullying, drug deals and sexual harassment.

The targeted apps include Yik Yak, Whisper, Sidechat and Fizz, the latter three of which I personally have never heard of being used.

There is a lot of controversy around Hans' decision to ban anonymous apps, and understandably so. Though he has the right intentions in mind with this blockage - trying to create a safe space and save college students from negativity - the problem is not the apps that revolve around anonymity. The problem is social media itself.

Cyberbullying and sexual harassment is a common issue that online users experience across the social media spectrum. Things like leaving hate comments on people's posts can diminish self-esteem, impact body image and convince people to view themselves in a negative light. If Hans' goal is to prevent cyberbullying as a whole, he needs to look at all social media apps.

As desperately as Hans wants to eradicate online harassment, these things happen just as frequently on TikTok and Instagram as they do on anonymous apps. Regardless of the platform, social media users are able to hide behind a screen.

On every social media app, users have the choice of what to share about themselves. In fact, the whole point of social media has become to share highlight reels of your life.

You post yourself with a glowing tan while on a tropical vacation, the Christmas card where your entire family is smiling and the moment you get into your dream college. People only post the best versions of themselves - that is, if they even choose to post themselves at all.

There is not a single common social media that requires users to include their name in their username, nor to upload a picture of themselves. People can be anonymous if they want to. There is no way of stopping it. I cannot count the number of times, on the daily, that I scroll through social media and see hate comment after hate comment after hate comment. When I click on the user's account, there is hardly ever an indication of the person's identity. The username is a combination of random words, the profile picture is of a black screen and not a single post can be found on their account. People are relentless with negative posts and comments because there is no accountability for their actions.

Without a doubt, social media has single-handedly taken over and transformed our society. We are in far too deep for Hans to make any sort of dent in college students' media consumption. Even if he bans anonymous apps through the Wi-Fi network, eduroam, students will still make an effort to use their personal data plans or turn on a virtual private network to use Yik Yak.

To me, Yik Yak is the best invention since bread and butter.

It is unique among other social media platforms because it applies directly to college students and their appropriate campus. With this, it has become a safe space for college students to express their concerns with other people on their campus.

I take pleasure in posting on Yik Yak to complain about the first floor Davis Library bathrooms, the Pit preachers, Deja Kelly entering the transfer portal and the lottery system for sports games, often with people who share the same opinions. If I were to post these sorts of takes on TikTok, I would never reach my target audience.

If Hans is truly worried about the well-being of students, he would look into better support systems and promote mental health on UNC campuses. It's impossible to limit all negativity on college campuses - Hans should alter his course of action to provide support for students actively struggling. Banning college students from using anonymous apps will not fix the issue of online harassment.


<![CDATA[Op-ed: Mental health, deeper happiness and the University's mission]]> Supporting student mental health is not a new concern for UNC.The University's 1789 charter - its earliest mission - is to "consult the happiness of a rising generation." UNC's founders believed that a good education isn't just about sharing knowledge; our job is to help students build thriving, meaningful lives.

That's the old-school definition of happiness. Not simply feeling good in the moment, but having a secure sense of belonging and purpose. Creating healthy relationships, serving a cause that matters to you, honing the skills to cope with difficulty - those things take time, and college is supposed to offer the space to make those big leaps into adulthood.

I was glad to see the special edition of student newspapers focused on student mental health published across North Carolina last month. Raising the alarm about rising rates of anxiety, depression and loneliness among young people is hugely important work, and it was heartening to see a focus on creative solutions.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNC System has added tens of millions of dollars in counseling resources, after-hours crisis hotlines and expanded training to help students facing mental health challenges. Those investments make a real difference, and we'll keep working to help those in need.

But it's clear that improving mental health more broadly will require changes in the social, cultural and technological environment we've created for young people. The average teenager spends up to nine hours per day looking at a screen, so it's no surprise that many students feel anxious, distracted and disconnected from real-world relationships.

Every minute spent doom scrolling is a minute you don't spend sleeping, reading, talking to friends, going outside or preparing for class. Relentless exposure to the tragedies, outrages and social comparisons of online life can be deeply unsettling. That's one of the reasons we're banning some of the worst actors of the social media world - anonymous gossip apps like YikYak and Sidechat - from campus networks.

College is meant to build offline connections with friends, professors and mentors. It's supposed to be a time for encountering new ideas, discovering new ways of living and reflecting on the values you want to live by. I remember how strange it felt when I first arrived in Chapel Hill as a student from a small town, how nervous I was about making friends and finding my way. It's normal, rational even, to be anxious in the face of those big uncertainties.

It gets easier when you realize that everyone around you is in the same boat, struggling with the daily pressures and epic questions about what comes next. A healthy campus culture emphasizes those common bonds, and helps people find support in one another. A supportive environment helps us understand that the hard moments aren't forever, that the struggles are a small part of a larger and more hopeful story. That's the University I want for all of us, and it's going to take all of us to build it.

- Peter Hans, president of the UNC System


<![CDATA[Column: Make rest intentional again]]> As finals loom ever closer, I've found myself with less and less motivation to lock in and do the necessary work. The finish line seems so close that it's hard to dig into whatever energy may be left.

I've heard much the same thing from friends around me - first semester was exhausting, the second demotivating.

It's becoming easier to spend more and more time crashing, scrolling through Instagram Reels with a sordid combination of pride for not being on TikTok and guilt for being on my phone in the first place.

I think that part of the drain that many of us feel comes from a fundamental de-prioritization of rest. The issue is that many of the ways we decompress are unintentional

At the end of the school day, we collapse into a nap, or we spend the morning dreading the inevitable reality of leaving bed to trek across campus and try to savor the last few moments before the third alarm goes off. Instead of choosing to rest intentionally, rest and recovery become pressures that force themselves into our lives.

They push themselves into moments of procrastination, into the breaks between classes, and fill up the little bits of time we allow for them. Because there's no room anywhere else in our lives, rest becomes something inopportune that happens to us.

When we do rest, it's a passive process. We try not to think about the activity of resting, for fear that the guilt and shame that comes from not doing work kicks in and spoils the entire activity.

My suggestion is this - rest must be treated with the same weight as the rest of our obligations. We should make time in our schedules to take intentional breaths. When making your to-do list for the week and scheduling out your homework, pretend that rest is an additional class you're taking. Allot time for it as you would any other necessary item on your agenda.

Remember that leisure is not something that can be postponed indefinitely. If you don't actively choose it, your body will schedule it for you. As the year grows later, it manifests itself in tiredness, in sickness, in irritability, etc. If rest only exists in moments of procrastination it does not exist at all, and exhaustion is quick to follow.

Often, the counter-argument to this is a lack of time. For those of us lucky enough to have swaths of open schedule space, making time for yourself is an easier process. I don't want to give blasé, catch-all advice that ignores the reality of student life, in which many of us juggle major course loads as well as jobs and a host of other commitments.

In many cases, though, I think that the time to rest already exists in our lives - it's just consumed with the guilt that we should be doing other things.

Don't ignore the collection of other pressures on your time. It's to choose to be intentional about it. The next time you find yourself feeling shame and guilt for "rotting," or finding it difficult to start an assignment after the third hour of staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor, stop trying to force productivity. If you can - if you have the time - let yourself sink into it. Make it intentional.


<![CDATA[Column: If you are going to use alcohol in college, don't abuse it]]> It is no secret that a large portion of students drink in college. Research shows that about 80 percent of college students consume alcohol to some extent. It is an activity that brings people together as it promotes social interaction and is viewed as a normal occurrence that is a part of the "college experience."

I am 21 years old, and I drink alcohol. Drinking has played a role in my experience at UNC, and it is typical for my friends and I to go out drinking on the weekends. Drinking is a common activity that Americans frequently engage in, as 67.4 percent of adults aged 18 and older reported drinking in the past year, but drinking in college is a completely different ball game.

The term "blacking out" has become an extensive part of the college experience, meaning drinking so much that you cannot recall what happened the night before. It is caused by a rapid increase in alcohol consumption. Blackouts usually begin when a person's blood alcohol concentration - the percentage of alcohol in a person's bloodstream - is at 0.16 percent, which is twice the legal driving limit.

The normalcy of blacking out can be seen in a 2012 study about college blackouts, where 50 percent of students reported having alcohol-induced blackouts in the past year. The frequency and normalcy of blacking out has downplayed the issues that come with it and has turned into something people joke about and gloss over.

According to a blackout and brain study by the National Library in 2003, alcohol interferes with the ability to form new long-term memories. This is because alcohol disrupts the hippocampus, a brain region that plays an important role in forming new memories.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, known as binge drinking, suppresses the memory receptors in your brain and can cause them to slow down or shut down entirely. Once memory receptors shut down they are unable to form new memories. When people black out, they lose the ability to make new memories, which is why they can't remember what happened the night before. There is no memory to recall because no memory was ever formed.

Aside from memory loss, drinking too much alcohol in the moment can lead to physical injuries, harm to yourself or others and participation in other activities one usually would avoid if they were sober.

Alcohol use is prevalent at UNC. There were 580 alcohol violations in dormitories reported to Chapel Hill Police Department between October 2015 and October 2022. Additionally, Chapel Hill has a plethora of bars and breweries where anyone of legal drinking age can go get a drink.

Throughout my experience in college, overconsumption of alcohol and blacking out has become more common. The drinking culture at UNC, and in college in general, has become less about socialization and more about the act of getting drunk. Alcohol should not be the main motivator of going out nor should it be the primary goal to accomplish every weekend.

The problem lies within college culture. The readily accessible form of alcohol, especially liquor, encourages drinking large amounts in a short period of time.

Drinking plays an influential role in the college experience, but that does not condone excessive drinking, especially when it can lead to dangerous short-term and long-term consequences. It is important to educate yourself on what alcohol does to your mind and your body. Drinking responsibility benefits yourself and those around you.

For help, contact Student Wellness at (919) 962-9355 or studentwellness@unc.edu for confidential counseling for alcohol and substance abuse. The Carolina Recovery Community is also available for students who want to remain sober and can be contacted at recovery@unc.edu.


<![CDATA[Office DJ: A new song every day]]> I am trying to be a better version of myself.

Ten words I say way too often, but I'm honestly not sure if it is true. Eating a salad or submitting an assignment before the eleventh hour is not going to change me, but it does make me feel good for a few seconds.

When 2024 began, I did what every girl in her 20s was made to do: curate a Pinterest board and a playlist. My Pinterest was flooded with manifestations of getting fit, finding internships and being successful. But those are just pictures on social media.

My playlist, though? She is alive and breathing. An asset to my day and currently the only thing I find myself shuffling when I hop in the car.

On Jan. 1, I made a promise to myself that if I do anything this year, it would be to update a playlist with a new song every day. The only rules: no repeats, no back-to-back artists.

Seems pretty easy right? Wrong.

Sometimes a day feels like "I'm Tired" from the Euphoria soundtrack and then a week later I feel the same again. On days I don't do anything, finding new or random songs is my go-to. I have even taken recommendations for other people's songs of the day. Thank you Copy Chief Sarah Monoson for contributing several.

The same day I made this promise, I was feeling afraid. A new year is hard, especially when you have no idea what the next six months of your life will look like.

"What Was I Made For?" by Billie Eilish defined that first day. Sitting at the dining table with my mom, filling out a bullet journal I have not touched since then and thinking about the fear of the unknown.

Now that March has come and gone, I have a good idea of what I was made for. I definitely think I have become a better version of myself.

My days are filled with CycleBar classes that play songs from Hamilton at full volume. I come into the office on The Smiths Sunday and suddenly "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is a staple in my playlist. "The Iron Claw" soundtrack has backed plenty of study sessions.

Music has come to define my day-to-day life.

Citizen Cope's "Sideways" sounds like my mom laughing on a road trip and "Doses & Mimosas" sounds like my high school best friend's basement on a Friday night. Some days are made for reminiscing.

But most days sound like the unknown. I was made for a summer where I still do not know what I am doing, days with my baby cousins, laughing with my roommates and possibly sticking around in The DTH office for a bit longer.

A lot has changed since January, but I am no longer afraid.

I am a better version of myself. I am a 20-year-old with a dusty Pinterest board, but an energetic, whiplash-y playlist, and I am confident that 2024 will continue to improve me.

Please, enjoy "Supermarket Flowers" by Ed Sheeran immediately followed by "Hefner" by Tana Mongeau. It is something I think everyone should experience.



<![CDATA[Column: Resist outcome-driven education and find fulfillment]]> Picture this: you are ten weeks deep into the semester, attempting to juggle five classes, three extracurriculars and some vague semblance of a social life. You're running on a solid five hours sleep, a Celsius and the remaining straws of hope for a 4.0. Your professor turns around to you, hours before a 3000 word deadline and says "try not to stress too much, use your essay as a space to dream!"

The university system of pass, fail, take and retake inherently fosters a transactional approach to education. From the first day of class, we engage in a cycle of performance and evaluation, where success means achieving predefined outcomes and failure is met with the expectation of remediation.

This deeply ingrained attitude towards education is both a product and reflection of a larger economic system. In the United States, the commodification of education has a tangible effect that seeps into the way we perceive and pursue learning.

It is a system that not only commodifies education, but also forces us to commodify ourselves. We internalize the logic of the market, adhering to the idea that if we invest time and effort in our education, we will be rewarded. Graduates bring this attitude into the workforce, and so the cycle continues.

Truthfully, while this is a critical perspective, it is not a radical one. We are largely aware of how the system works and most students consciously or subconsciously have adopted ways to make it "work" for them. The education system is deeply ingrained in, and reflective of, capitalist culture, so change on a systemic level does seem like a long shot.

However, I don't believe it is all doom and gloom. Yes, the larger picture might reveal such insights, but when we zoom in to the micro-level, it is an oversimplification.

Education can be both outcome-driven and personally enriching, the key just lies in your mindset.

It has become somewhat of a running joke among my classmates, "ugh, I have to read so much today." The reply: "No, you get to read so much today!" This nugget of wisdom is usually met with an eye roll and a knowing smile. However, I believe there may be something real to be gleaned from it.

This calls attention to the fact that education is a privilege. That is not to make us feel bad, but to make us feel grateful. The opportunity to expand our knowledge and creativity in a community of like-minded students and academics is one that is rarely exploited to its full potential.

This tells us that we can take control of our own learning through a small mindset shift. While the system can at times make it seem difficult, we can still produce good work and consider it a product of a greater process of learning.

There are several small steps we might be able to make towards this. Firstly, we might choose to enroll in more classes which are of personal interest to us. Yes, all majors have requirements to be fulfilled, but there is time too for personal interest. This is part of the ingrained separation that work is something that must be done and extracurriculars are for personal enjoyment.

Taking classes that genuinely inspire you might help to bridge this divide. While it can be tempting to opt for "easy" general education classes,learning will always seem easier if you have a genuine interest in the topic.

Engage with your professors, even in first and second year. Building a healthy relationship with your professors helps not only yourself, but fosters a healthy community of learning. Overcoming the attitude that professors are here to test you, not to teach you, can be the first stage to making education a conversation and not an exchange.

While the idea of using our work as a space to dream may seem difficult at first, it actually reveals a valuable philosophy that we might carry with us in our learning. While the education system is set up in a way that values assessment and productivity, this need not be the killer of creativity and personal fulfillment. In a system that is outcome-driven, a small but radical mindset change might show us that we can find purpose in our work without making work our purpose.


<![CDATA[Column: Self-educating isn't enough. Take a political science class.]]> It's that time of year again.

The time of year where students gather anxiously around their laptops, fighting like weak gladiators against lions in our respective ConnectCarolina arenas. Bloodstained and tear-soaked, we pray we will make it out unscathed, hoping that the last remaining open section of our desired class is inaccurately represented by its 1.8/5 rating on Rate My Professors ("It can't be that bad, right?" Famous last words).

It's also that time of year where I rally as a passionate pre-law student to encourage everyone that lends an ear to listen: please include a political science class in your registration.

Objectively, it's difficult to rank the importance of different fields of study. This is a clear truth in an environment like UNC. On a daily basis, I am fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional scholars from all backgrounds, pursuing difficult and diverse careers that will no doubt lead them to success. It's also easy to favor one's own field. I know I'm a biased author. We all have tendencies to look upon our own work as that of utmost importance.

I don't write this column because I'm trying to convince you that the field of political science is more difficult than others or that it has any more validity in career pursuits, but because I hope you see that it is the single most relevant and applicable subject that young educated students should understand.

If I take chemistry classes alongside my political science major, the world will not change, despite the fact that chemistry is a highly rigorous and complex subject. I am not forced or even encouraged to dabble in local scientific communities. My wayward scientific opinions do not matter to or impact other people, nor are they directly relevant to the world around me.

If, on the other hand, a chemistry student takes political science classes, the world will certainly change. That chemistry student likely can vote. That chemistry student likely has a voice in how the government operates. Their opinions and knowledge about politics do impact other people, and they are relevant to the world around them.

Engineering, architecture, art history, journalism and physics students all have a voice in the world of politics. This phenomenon makes political science more relevant and applicable than any other selection of classes, because its real-world applications are open to everyone - regardless of background, prior knowledge or education level.

It's our responsibility to know what is going on in the world around us. Our hope in graduating from such an institution is that we will be well-prepared to exist in a demanding, evolving and influential world. We simply cannot do this without a semblance of a political background and understanding, regardless of whatever else we may be studying.

Enrolling in college-level, professor-taught classes is a drastically different experience than teaching oneself about the political climate. Before I enrolled at UNC, I thought I had the qualifications to call myself politically versed. I had read the books; I had listened to podcasts; I had examined the theories. I knew the battleground states, the controversial Supreme Court decisions and how the political spectrum divided opinion.

But a singular class, my first-year International Relations and Global Politics course, changed all of this entirely for me. When I found myself having to reread sections of our class textbook six times over in order to understand it and when students around me asked questions about countries I didn't even know existed, I realized I had grossly overestimated my political knowledge.

Our own assumed theories are not enough to fully develop one's understanding of the political climate in a way that is significant. So, from your friendly neighborhood political science major, here are the three introductory classes that every student should be taking while enrolled at our university.

1. Political Science100: American Democracy in Changing Times. In this course, you will examine the workings and function of our government. You will analyze the two-party system, the foundations of our representative democracy and the influence of culture and history on our political system.

2. Political Science 130: Introduction to Comparative Politics. In this course, you will analyze the similarities and differences between different political groups and operations throughout history and in current times, in an attempt to understand why certain political parties and government structures operate the way they do.

3. Political Science 150: International Relations and Global Politics. In this course, you will learn about the workings of governments worldwide, while analyzing theories of conflict and cooperation. You will gather an understanding of war, the global economy and human rights issues across the globe.

I urge students everywhere - not just at UNC - to own up to our responsibility to become educated about the workings of our government. To be anything but educated on the political climate is an active choice that involves turning away from the massive rush of information that presents itself to you daily. This is a time of war, of dissension, of crisis. Get educated, literally.



<![CDATA[Column: Pauli Murray deserves to be part of UNC's legacy]]> It's more than a little morbid to think about how I want people to remember me when I die, but I can't avoid thinking about my legacy.

Legacies are a manifestation of every person, place, and thing that has ever entered and exited your life; I'm shaped by the people around me, and in turn, they're shaped by me.

Right now, I find myself at the end of my freshman year at UNC, the legacy of America's oldest public university has likewise become inseparable from mine. I now get to partake in its long history, and I'm incredibly thankful to be pursuing my passion for learning at this university.

However, scattered among the blooming flowers and verdant old-growth trees of the campus I've grown to love stand monuments to a legacy that I want no part in.

It's easy to venerate the history that gives UNC the prestige, culture and resources that it's become known for, but to embrace this history while ignoring the reality that many buildings and statues pay tribute to figures who perpetuated hateful ideologies is antithetical to the values of learning, collaboration and inclusivity that the university purports to champion.

UNC has taken action to remove tributes to figures who worked to perpetuate hateful ideas, primarily white supremacy, and replace them with the names of people who better embody the university's values.

The recent renaming of theHenry Owl Building, McClinton Residence Hall, Ruffin Jr. Residence Hall and Student Stores all illustrate attempts to recenter the university's legacy around people who strove to create a better world for everyone.

Despite these efforts, blemishes remain. In 2020, a petition was signed by the chairs of the history; sociology; political science; and peace, war, and defense programs to rename the site of their departments, Hamilton Hall, to Pauli Murray Hall. The building's namesake, Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton, contributed to the perpetuation of harmful ideology in his time at UNC, using his position as chair of the UNC history department to spread white supremacy.

Standing in stark contrast to the life of Hamilton is Pauli Murray, a trailblazing scholar who fully embodies UNC's values. Murray spent their life overcoming the obstacles that Hamilton and others who shared his ideology had worked to perpetuate at institutions like UNC.

After being denied from UNC's doctoral program in sociology due to their race in 1938, Murray attended Howard Law School, where they were the only non-cisgender personin their class. They graduated as valedictorian and were awarded a fellowship and letter of recommendation to Harvard Law School from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite these accomplishments, Murray was again denied admission to Harvard Law due to their gender.

They earned a Masters of Laws degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Following this, Murray would attend Yale Law School, where in 1965, they became the first African American to receive a Doctorate of Juridical Science from Yale.

Murray used their education to work tirelessly to advance the rights of marginalized groups in America. Their work as an attorney played an influential role in Brown v. Board of Education overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, and in serving as co-counsel in White v. Crook, which succeeded in prohibiting sex and gender discrimination in the jury selection system.

In addition to their legal work, Murray also played a key role in the American Civil Liberties Union, helped found the National Organization for Womenand served as a professor of law and politics at Brandeis University.

Despite the overwhelming barriers to success posed by systemic racism, gender discrimination and racial prejudice, Murray was able to become an author, lawyer, historian, priest and outspoken activist for Civil Rights, creating positive change in marginalized communities. Their commitment to scholarship, equality and public service presents a legacy that students at UNC should seek to emulate.

To continue to endorse Hamilton is to either reject the truth or be complicit in his hate, thereby continuing to exclude marginalized groups from partaking in UNC's legacy. If UNC truly wants to be an institution that prioritizes helping everyone pursue their passions through education, people like Murray must be who we name our monuments after. A building in which students study history, politics, sociology and peace, war and defense has a responsibility to learn the complete stories of the people who've shaped the world we live in.


A mural of Pauli Murray, a local civil rights activist and the subject of a new WUNC podcast adorns a wall along S Buchanan Blvd in Durham on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. The piece is part of a collaborative public art project in Durham called "Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life."

<![CDATA[Column: Use the right word]]> I recently had a conversation with a friend where she aired out her grievances against her boyfriend about a fight they had had the week before. I listened intently as she went into detail about all of the reasons she was mad at him, and have compiled them here.

  • He lied to her about being busy when she asked to hangout (claiming to be at the gym, but was at his apartment).
  • After confronting him, he said he was just too tired to hangout and scared to tell her.
  • The next day he texted her several times apologizing for lying to her.

While telling me this story, my friend used the words "gaslighting" and "love bombing" as ways to describe his behavior. She claimed that he had gaslighted her about his location and then attempted to love bomb her after the fact with excessive apologies.

I care about my friend, and while I certainly empathize with her frustration over her loser boyfriend, I couldn't help but note her usage of these words. Gaslight. Love bomb.

Recently, with the proliferation of TikTok relationship advice, I have seen a massive increase in phrases like these. Phrases that describe oftentimes serious psychological manipulation in relationships being tossed around without any regard for their actual meaning.

To be clear, and in case my aforementioned friend reads this article, what her boyfriend did was still unacceptable, but labeling any action in a relationship that relates to lying as gaslighting is diminishing to the actual meaning of the word.

Words mean something - or at least they should. The social media dictionary, however, has created an entirely separate word bank with completely different meanings for words than originally intended.

While this isn't inherently harmful, in situations where words like gaslight are thrown around wherever and whenever, it devalues genuine instances of gaslighting, which is oftentimes employed in manipulative relationships to control one's behavior.

The misuse of these words can make it difficult for victims of such a situation to even understand that this is what they are experiencing. It can also make it more difficult for them to be taken seriously when describing the gaslighting they have experienced.

Take for example, the term depression. Depression describes a consistent, serious mood disorder that disrupts daily life, yet this word is tossed around in casual conversation.

I'd never invalidate someone's depression, but the term has become interchangeable with sadness in general; they aren't the same thing and implying such is misguided.

A result of equating depression to sadness is the tendency for people to write off depression as just another bad day. If everybody, everywhere is constantly walking around casually saying that they're depressed because they've had a few down days, then there's no actual significance to depression itself.

It's not a serious mood disorder, just another emotion you mention when someone asks how you're doing.

I don't mean any of this to discourage people from speaking about their mental health, or seeking help from others, but it's important that people understand the full implications of a word before they use it.

In a situation where you are engaged in a genuine fight with a partner, immediately resorting to the conclusion that gaslighting has occurred, as my friend did, can shut down an actual productive discussion. In any relationship there are difficult discussions to be had, and broadly describing instances of lying as a general form of gaslighting completely prevents that.

There's nothing one can do to stop other people from using a specific word, and if you are confident enough in a situation to label it with a term like love bombing or gaslighting, then feel free to do so.

That being said, we need to be more mindful about the phrases we employ. Taking your entire terminology from social media creates an extreme mindset where people are running around using words they don't fully understand.Just because you see a word used everyday on the internet, it doesn't mean you should pick it up yourself.

As I said to my friend, not everything needs to be labeled. Sometimes your boyfriend does something shitty and it's not gaslighting, it's just shitty.


<![CDATA[Column: Slang in formal writing must take that L]]> If an alien were to stand in the middle of the Quad, or maybe in the center of Lenoir Dining Hall, they'd hear some of the most exquisite diction of our species. Someone is "geekin" on the escalator. Someone else's "tuff fit," ate. Another is skipping class for the plot. There's even someone being joshed in the Pit.

Any university is a hotspot for slang with the dense concentration of young people. However, I don't just hear slang within groups of first-years standing in the middle of the sidewalk orin the spine-tingling back rooms of the Student Union. I'm starting to hear slang in my classes and seeing it within formal writing. And that's low-key scary.

Slang has always been around in any historical context. Whether it existed in phrases like "gnarly," "bogus" and "tubular" in the 80s or "groovy," "fab" and "far out" in the 60s, the youth of a generation is almost always connected by a distinct lingo.

What's different between the slang used in past generations compared to slang used today, though, is the context in which it's used. A 2021 study in the Journal of Communication and Cultural Trends found that compared to Generation X, Generation Y uses more "netspeak" or slang in their everyday speech. Millennials have begun including slang not just in casual writing but in formal writing. And this is due to the influence of the GOAT: the internet.

Texting, social media and other internet mediums have allowed people to have informal spaces to use slang besides just spoken day-to-day language. With millennials' use of slang in formal writing, it's not illogical to assume that Gen Z will grapple with this same problem. Gen Z has been exposed to technologies and social media from childhood, and the omnipresence of the internet demands efficient communication, i.e. the usage of slang.

The study also explains that internet users experience a complex process of code switching - where they flip between using slang on the internet to more casual colloquialisms in verbal exchanges to sophisticated language in formal settings. Since our generation is constantly on our phones, the switching between slang and normal language can get all mixed up, and slang seeps into places it shouldn't be.

Beyond the internet, African American Vernacular English also influences many of the day-to-day slang words that we hear. AAVE itself is not slang or "bad" English. It functions like another language - one that utilizes specific tenses and grammatical structures that differ from standard English. Though the term AAVE was created to officially recognize Black English as a language, its main goal was to validate the spoken dialect - most speakers also code switch when it comes to formality. When it is claimed and used by white people as slang, they often lack this knowledge or historical context.

Our public University isn't immune to this trend. In one of my classes, the phrase "L rizz" was used in a midterm project. In a peer's paper that I read, they used the phrase "popped off." In a serious way. I've even been known to slip slang into an article or two. Seeing slang like this can be funny and pretty jarring, but it also reflects a larger worry that some linguists have about the preservation of traditional language.

As social media and the internet continue to grow, the line between formal and informal language will likely blur. Linguistic changes like this are natural, but the unpredictable nature of the internet makes linguists and older generations wary of the survival of our "mother tongue."

When slang is used in essays, reports, scholarly papers and other academic projects, there is a level of sophistication and trustworthiness that disappears. Like the separation of church and state in our government, we must ensure that there is a separation of formal and informal language.

Slang is funny and can be a uniting force for younger generations. Slang is often witty and a quick way to communicate. Some slang clearly evolved from other words, like sus. Other slang words don't make much sense. Just ask Josh. Slang has its place in verbal communication and informal biomes like the internet.

However, if we don't become more mindful of when it is and isn't appropriate to use slang, it may soon start occupying our formal writing, rent-free. So start looking around the cracks and crevices of the University and see if slang is lurking in places it shouldn't be. I'm certain you'll start seeing it too. I am not delulu.



<![CDATA[Column: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled correctly, but that doesn't mean Trump should be voted in]]> In early March, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Trump v. Andersonthat states cannot enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to remove former President Donald Trump from their primary ballots. This was a case that had potential to upend the 2024 presidential race. If the court had ruled alternatively, other states may have joined Colorado and Maine in rejecting Trump's eligibility to run.

A group of Colorado voters had challenged this eligibility in September 2023, arguing that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment - sometimes referred to as the "Insurrectionist Clause" - precluded Trump from running for office again, namely after his alleged role in fomenting an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Although the justices differed in their reasoning and their interpretations of actors who can enforce Section 3, they arrived at an unanimous bottom line: states cannot utilize Section 3 to disqualify federal officeholders. Allowing it, the majority wrote, would result in a "patchwork" that would sever the link "between the National government and the people of the United States as a whole."

As much as I reject the idea of another Trump term in the White House, I believe the U.S. Supreme Court was right to ensure he remains on ballots. Allowing state-by-state removal would diffuse disharmony through the country at a time when we need no more of it. During oral arguments for Trump v. Anderson,Justice Elena Kagan raised a key question, asking why one state "should decide who gets to be president of the United States."

It's a fair point. As the majority wrote, the executive branch serves the "united voice of the whole, not a portion, of the people." A further fragmented nation serves no one - not even those of us who fear the ramifications of another four years of Trump.

Moreover, removing a presidential contender with as much popular support as Trump would be a disservice to the American people. If the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled alternatively, how many millions of Americans would cease believing in the legitimacy of our democracy? If Trump was not allowed to run, it would perpetuate the notion that the deck is indeed stacked against him. The integrity of democratic institutions inherently relies on the fact that they work for all of us. Manipulating them for political ends - however frightening the alternative - does more harm than good. More importantly, such acts erode the already diminished public faith in democracy and the electoral process.

I stand steadfast in this belief, but the irony that Trump is the candidate we must protect in the name of democracy is not lost on me. It frustrates me beyond measure that upholding democracy means disregarding the damage Trump did to ours - damage we are still working to repair. In this republic, no man is entitled to power simply because he craves it. I dread the generational implications of putting such a man in power again; the further desecration of democracy, defilement of the U.S. Constitution and erosion of the American experiment. For the future of our republic, I remain eternally grateful Trump wasn't taken off the ballot. For the future of our republic, I am equally terrified he will end up in the Oval Office yet again.

Ever since Trump announced his second presidential campaign, those of us who fear his return have been on the lookout for some sort of magic trick that will save America from him. I hope desperately that a Constitutional genie in a bottle will appear and provide us with some niche legal provision we can use against Trump - without doing generations' worth of damage to our republic.

There is no trick and there is no genie. There is only us, and our political capital is something far more powerful than magic. Trump will be on the ballot come November, and we will be responsible for the outcome. If he is to be barred from the White House, it will be the people of this great nation who prohibit him.



<![CDATA[Op-ed: UNC has an antisemitism problem]]> 2024 is a scary time to be a Jewish college student.

Hillel International published that antisemitic incidents on university campuses have increased 700 percent following Oct. 7, while the Anti-Defamation League reported in November 2023 that 73 percent of the Jewish studentssurveyed had experienced or witnessed some form of antisemitism since the beginning of the academic year.

It's no coincidence that the proliferation of anti-Zionist rhetoric andpropaganda glorifying the Hamas-led sexual violence and murder of approximately1,200 Israeli civilianshas risen as well.

But antisemitism isn't new to UNC. Following a 2019 conference about "Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities"when a musical guest commented "I cannot be antisemitic alone" when inviting the crowd to sing along,a Title VI complaint to the U.S. Department of Education led to a resolution agreement that required UNC to be proactive against antisemitism.

This achieved little. In 2022, The Daily Tar Heel published - and later removed - a columntitled "When Studying Abroad Becomes Political" that many studentsconsideredto be problematic. In April 2023, at least oneswastika was found printed on a sheet of paper in Davis Library.

In December, another Title VI investigation was initiated, citing allegedantisemitic events that occurred following Oct. 7.

Antisemitism is rising in 2024. Recently, someone in a car pulled up alongside my visibly Jewish friend while he was walking down the street, rolled down the window and screamed at him from behind a mask, "You're Jewish? Y'all killed Jesus!"

When Jewish students report antisemitic incidents through the appropriate channels, including UNC's Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, we don't observe action taken to prevent these incidents from reoccurring.When we try to explain to our peers why we believe they are engaging in antisemitism, we are rebuffed.

Whether due to ignorance or malice, I believe there is a lack of knowledge regarding what antisemitism is on campus.

This is where the widely adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism is useful.

IHRA explains that denying Jewish people the right to self-determination; comparing the conduct of Israel and its citizens to the Nazis; and holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of Israel's government or military are all antisemitic expressions.

The main complaint about IHRA is that it limits free speech by calling any criticism of Israel antisemitic. However, the IHRA'sdefinition doesn't limit speech - it clarifiesthat "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic."

In aNovember op-ed, UNC Students for Justice in Palestine claimed that supporting the Palestinian "right to resistance" isn't an endorsement of violence in our community. This language has been used in the past to justify attacks against Israelis. This promotes the belief that the recent massacre of Israelis and those unfortunately mistaken for Jews was somehow morally justified.

Oct. 7 was an act of violence against our community. Keith Siegel, who is from Chapel Hill and has family here, is still in Hamas captivity.

I believe that some activists reject IHRA because they want to continue calling for further harm to come to Jews with impunity. If that does not constitute antisemitism, then nothing does.

UNC has an antisemitism problem, and it's time we fix it.

- Alana Goldman, UNC class of 2024, Writing Fellow at CAMERA on Campus

<![CDATA[Column: Evaluate politicians holistically, not just on their most recent policies]]> Several weeks ago, N.C. Rep. Jeff Jackson, a congressman and active user on TikTok,voted for the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. This bill would force ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok, to sell the app or face its removal from U.S. app stores.

Jackson then posted a video on TikTok, that has since been deleted, explaining his decision to vote for the bill. The video garnered significant criticism online and ultimately cost the congressman over 200,000 followers.

Likely, many of his followers thought Jackson's vote was a betrayal. Known for his brief explanations of government and world news on the app, Jacksonbuilt his platform on honesty, transparency and community education. Even after publishing an apology on the app for his handling of the situation, many still deemed Jackson a hypocrite.

This situation highlights a greater issue in U.S. politics. While we should hold our politicians accountable, we must note the danger of writing off their actions withoutconsidering the rest of their political history. It is dangerous to reduce our representatives to one or two policies or decisions. By doing so, we forget how government works: through compromise.

Tossing out a politician for one policy we disagree with them on or refusing to vote is not an act of defiance or protest; it is actively pushing us in the wrong direction of democracy.

If you are anything like me, you are likely dissatisfied with the state of U.S. politics. More and more often, I hear the phrase "lesser of two evils" thrown around when discussing politicians. We face extremists on one end and too many moderates on the other.

If you are anything like me, the options in the upcoming election do not inspire much confidence in the future.

If you are anything like me, you are tired of watching polarization grow each year and politicians taking steps to the extreme with each passing day. Yet, we must remember that nothing will change if we do not first take the little steps forward.

If you are anything like me, you are open to forgiving Jackson for his vote because he is more than just one vote on one bill.

Our first steps toward change should not be throwing out candidates because we disagree with one policy or decision. We must accept that our options are imperfect. No one is without fault, not me or the latest congressional nominee. No one will match our individual ideologies perfectly - if you are looking for a perfect political match, run for office yourself.

Of course, we all have dealbreakers. There will always be beliefs that you will never budge on, and that is important. Being principled in a contentious political environment is invaluable. However, it is your job as a voter to decide which politician is better for you and aligns most closely with your beliefs - even if they are not perfect.

When voters relinquish their vote as a form of protest or out of indifference, little direct change will benefit them. As election season quickly approaches and we prepare to face a contentious rerun of 2020, we should focus on researching our prospective politicians beyond the latest headlines and recent articles.

Change does not happen overnight. If we want positive change in politics, we should work to elect people we can generally agree with, hold our lawmakers accountable in the court of public opinion and, most importantly, vote. When we look at our options holistically, we are able to better understand the person we are choosing to represent us. By educating ourselves about their policies and personal beliefs, we are capable of judging our representatives more thoroughly.

While politicians have to compromise in government, we too have to compromise when choosing our representatives and the platforms they support.


<![CDATA[Column: UNC deserves an experienced chancellor who cares about its students]]> Issues surrounding housing, mental health and right-leaning policies continue to develop at UNC. And with the search for a permanent new University chancellor, the search committee must select an individual who can implement systems to address these concerns in order to better accommodate all UNC students' needs.

UNC students deserve to have a chancellor who will listen to them.

Former UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz left the University earlier this semester, prompting the UNC System to designate another individual to fill his place until a permanent replacement can be found. UNC System President Peter Hans announced Lee Roberts, the former state budget director, as interim chancellor.

With this announcement camebacklash against Roberts, as many believed him to be a controversial pick due to his background as state budget director under former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and lack of academic administrative experience.

In his position, Roberts proposed a budget that allocated the lowest share of funding to higher education since 1981. The McCrory administration signed the anti-transgender"bathroom bill" in 2016 while Roberts was a member of the administration. Roberts also served on the UNC Board of Governors starting in 2021 when the compelled speech ban in hiring and admissions decisions was passed.

His appointment puts a spotlight on the importance of having an experienced chancellor who is dedicated to the betterment of our University. A role I don't think Roberts can or should permanently fill.

The issue of housing has been especially prominent at UNC over the past few years. Last November, almost 600 students who applied for on-campus housing before the priority deadline were placed on the waitlist. This year, that number rose to 1,100 students as of Dec. 1, 2023. While Carolina Housing said itexpectsto be able to provide housing to everyone on the waitlist,students should not have to live with that uncertainty in addition to the other stressors they already face.

Although on-campus housing is not guaranteed to UNC students after their first year, with rising rent prices in Chapel Hill, it is many students' most financially accessible option.

Housing is an important aspect of college students' lives, and a chancellor willing to create plans to alleviate this stress is necessary.

Furthermore, theissue of mental health for all college students, including those at UNC is also something that needs to continue to be addressed with care by the University.

During his time as chancellor,Guskiewicz implemented well-being days and the Heels Care Network in fall 2021 following a series of suicides on campus to aid in supporting students' mental health. These policies give students greater access to resources to improve their mental health and provide opportunities throughout the semester for students to have a much-needed break from constant academic stressors.

However, with the growing mental health crisis among college students, the next chancellor must prioritize creating new programs and improving those that already exist to support students' mental well-being.

In the University's search for a new chancellor, the search committee should be looking for an individual who can effectively address issues UNC students and faculty face, as opposed to an individual who might implement policies that negatively affect UNC's entire network.

A good chancellor promotes advancement for UNC. The wrong one will only send us backward.


<![CDATA[Column: SCiLL minor only divides campus further, is waste of resources]]> After the initial controversy following the announcement of the School of Civic Life and Leadershipduring a January 2023 UNCBoard of Trustees meeting,there has been little public discussion of what the curriculum would look like. Well,until recently when the SCiLL minor was launched.

UNC announced its plans for the School of Civic Life and Leadership onJan. 26, 2023, unbeknownst to many faculty and staff.

Beginning in fall2024, UNC students will have the opportunity to declare this minor, designed to equip them with skills to actively engage in civil discourse by bringing in professors from many different backgrounds.

The allocation of $2 million to establish the school and hire faculty raises serious questions about resource prioritization. This move is particularly concerning given the scarcity of tenure-track positions within UNC's social science departments. With only a handful of such positions available, the sudden creation of 10 to 20 new tenured or tenure-track roles for the SCiLL program feels like a slight to current faculty members who have previously been striving for tenure.

Traditionally, tenure-track positions become available at UNC infrequently, either through a previous professor's departure or retirement, making the spot highly competitive and coveted. The abrupt creation of positions for SCiLL faculty undermines this established process and could disrupt the career trajectories of existing faculty members.

Moreover, the similarities between the minor requirements for the school and the new IDEAs in Actiongeneral education curriculum are remarkable. Both aim to provide students with a well-rounded education by emphasizing critical thinking, problem-solving and engagement with diverse perspectives. For instance, the SCiLL minor includes courses such as Foundations of Civic Life and Leadership and Practice of Civil Life and Leadership.The IDEAS curriculum focuses on identifying societal questions and issues, discovering ideas and evidence and exploring methods that inform those questions.

The parallels between the new minor and the general education curriculum suggest that funding could have been better utilized to serve the needs of the whole student body. The selection effect of declaring a minor through the School of Civic Life and Leadership is likely high, especially after being described as a "conservative center" by some.

It is certain to draw students who align with its presumed political stance, particularly from majors like communications, political science, public policy and psychology. This selective appeal risks further entrenching ideological divides on campus rather than fostering genuine dialogue and understanding.

It seems unreasonable to expect students with a diverse range of academic interests to pursue SCiLL minors when the themes and ideas being taught are nothing new and should already be incorporated into each major at UNC.

The University prides itself in providing students with a well-rounded, liberal arts education. Civil discourse should be an essential tenet of such an education for all students through the general education curriculum. The creation of a SCiLL minor negates our current faculty's ability to teach students how to actively engage in civil discourse within their major and general education requirements.

Further, the under the table manner in which the school was announced and funded only complicates these concerns. By sidelining faculty and staff input and bypassing transparent decision-making processes, UNC squandered the opportunity for SCiLL to serve as a genuine bridge across the partisan divide that plagues our campus. This disconnect between the University's leadership and its stakeholders, be it faculty, students or the Board of Trustees, only serves to intensify existing tensions and undermines the credibility of the initiative.

The SCiLL's inception appears more like a missed opportunity than a genuine effort to promote civil discourse and bridge ideological divides at UNC. If anything, it risks further entrenching existing divisions and exacerbating tensions on campus. UNC would have been better served to create minors in pre-existing programs, establish new positions in psychology, political science or public policy, or further enhance the new general education curriculum.



Photos courtesy of Ira Wilder and Adobe Stock.

<![CDATA[Column: North Carolina needs a higher budget for education ]]> Public schools are essential parts of society, providing education and opportunities at a standard taxpayer cost. Teachers at these schools propel students' success. However, in North Carolina, a state with the most board-certified teachers in public schools nationally, the beginning teacher pay ranks 46th.

This lack of funding in education creates setbacks for students and teachers. For students, it can create a disparity between access to educational resources and opportunities based on their socioeconomic status, impairing their future success. For teachers, it can affect their decision to reside in a state not valuing them. Public schools and teachers deserve more funding.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced 2024 as the "Year of Public Schools" in North Carolina. The necessity of this cannot be understated. Cooper has called for a meaningful increase in public school funding, including in teacher pay, which has been severely lacking in recent years.

Between educational labor shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic; the importance of wage investment; and North Carolina's historical lack of equal education access, N.C. teachers must be valued more. Low state funding toward education coupled with recent events increases the necessity of a significant boost in teachers' wages.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. workforce faced significant losses, particularly in the education sector. A survey done by the RAND Corporation indicated that about 1 in 4 teachers desired to leave their jobs at the end of the 2020-21 school year. While increasing teacher stress and burnout, the pandemic heightened the responsibilities of teachers, from creating virtual lessons to monitoring online cheating.

According to a figure from the N.C. Department of Commerce, the state had 9,100 fewer school workers in 2021 than the expected amount based on employment trends. While teacher attrition has fallen slightly since the 2021-22 school year, it is at its second-highest level since before the 2017-18 year. Already having a relatively low budget for education spending before 2020, the lasting effects of the pandemic on teachers emphasize the need for a wage increase.

State education funding goes toward the wages of public school teachers, whichabout 90 percent of the stateis taught by. Considering the large number of students who are enrolled in state-funded schools, students need to be invested in statewide and public school teachers need to be appropriately paid.

Education policy is not a new topic in N.C. politics. In 1997,Leandro v. State of North Carolinaargued that equal access to education, between private and public educational disparities, was not ensured in the state, citing North Carolina as one of the lowest-funded educational programs in the country.

Twenty-five years later, this ruling is still in dispute, as North Carolina has not invested the proper amount of money in each student. It is critical that the public school system can provide education to all students, regardless of race, English-speaking ability and demographic. North Carolina has multiple prestigious public universities, and many students from public schools in the state go on to attend them. If their education is not well invested in, they are less prepared and at an overall disadvantage.

North Carolina spends about $5,000 less per student than the national average, placing it at No. 46 in student investment. In 2021,New York was ranked first in student investment, spending $27,265 on per-pupil funding, which is a stark contrast to North Carolina's $11,263.

Equal funding sets the foundation for a functioning school system, from preschool to graduating high school. It is essential that each student has a fair advantage to enable their future success. Teachers, who have been historically underpaid in North Carolina, deserve a fair wage both for themselves and if we are to truly help students find success in education.


Gov. Roy Cooper stands before members of the media following a press conference introducing Well Dot Inc. to the Chapel Hill area on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

<![CDATA[Column: Governments must treat the femicide crisis separate from homicide]]> Content warning:This article discusses murder and violence against women.

On Jan. 9, Liliana Concha Perez was found dead in Durham alongside her former boyfriend, who was described by Perez's family as jealous, possessive and obsessive. On Jan. 24, an argument between María Teresa Meraz-Cruz and her boyfriend, Miguel Angel Ventura, ended in Ventura killing her in a murder-suicide. On Feb. 7, police arrested Tammy Lynn Hodges's husband after she was found dead inside her home.

These women are just three recent examples of a tragic, yet growing, epidemic in North Carolina: femicide.

Femicide is the gender-related killing of women and girls. Although the terms 'femicide' and 'homicide' both describe the intentional killing of another person, they are not synonymous. Femicide is deeply rooted in centuries of unequal power relations between men and women and is often preceded by a history of abuse and violence in a relationship, while homicide is a far more general term which does not capture the gendered aspect of femicide. Currently, the United States penal code fails to distinguish between femicide and homicide -but if we are to begin to address the femicide crisis, this needs to change.

According to an investigation conducted by El Centro Hispano, 51 North Carolina women were victims of femicide in 2023. 2024 is already positioned to surpass that number, with 13 femicides occurring in North Carolina during January and February alone. If the rest of the year continues in this same manner, 78 North Carolina women will have been lost to femicide in 2024, an increase of over 50 percent from the previous year.

The lack of a legal differentiation between femicide and homicide makes it very difficult to gather accurate data about femicide. Femicide rates can be estimated using homicide data, but organizations often report vastly different rates from each other. Without a clear picture of the scope of the problem, policymakers and community-based organizations cannot effectively respond to the crisis.

As of now, neither the state nor federal government have taken any steps to address femicides. The burden of the crisis then falls on the shoulders of community-based organizations, many of whom say they are underfunded and stretched too thin to adequately address the issue. Legal recognition of femicide would encourage government funding toward programs designed to prevent femicide, which would ease the burden currently on community-based organizations and lead to a more effective response.

The Town of Carrboro recently declared March 8 as a day to raise awareness about and call for action to prevent femicide, the first of its kind in North Carolina. This is an important first step and should be applauded as such; but realistically, the proclamation's impact is limited because it did not change the law to classify femicide as a distinct crime.

That being said, simply classifying femicide as its own crime is not a silver bullet. Doing so can facilitate the implementation of preventative measures and data collection, but to truly eradicate femicide, systemic social change is needed.

This type of systemic social change not only includes the dismantling of sexist power dynamics that leave women in danger of violence but also a restructuring of institutions that cause transgender, Black and Indigenous women to be both disproportionately affected by and unprotected from femicide. Examples of such institutions are the criminal justice system and the media, which both have long histories of not giving minority women adequate attention or resources. At the end of the day, classifying femicide as a crime does little good if those who are most at risk have difficulty accessing the legal protections a separate classification would provide.

This kind of systemic change will take time and considerable effort. While we all work together to help it come to pass, I urge you to sign this petition calling on the North Carolina legislature to classify femicide as a distinct crime. We cannot sit around idly while women keep dying from femicide.

If you or someone you know is in danger of intimate partner violence, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.


A police car sits parked on the UNC campus on Mar. 22, 2024.

<![CDATA[Column: UNC must adopt a standard policy for class content warnings]]> Last semester I took a class on Asian-American literature. At the end of almost every class, the professor would briefly note something along the lines of "Thursday's readings contain mention of gender-based violence," or "Tuesday's chapter contains reference to suicide." The same semester, I took a class in which we studied a scene in "Twelve Years a Slave" in which an enslaved woman is raped and then beaten. For this content, though, I received no such warning.

I do not say this to shame either of these professors for their practices. I do so to highlight the disparity between these very similar discussions, on the same campus, prefaced in very different ways.

Content warnings have circulated in radical spaces since the '90s and exist to warn a reader or viewer of potentially sensitive or disturbing content in literature, cinema or other media. The idea entered the mainstream consciousness somewhere around the beginning of the MeToo movement, with theaters, streaming services and university campuses beginning to implement them more frequently.

They are also a site of highly polarized cultural debate. There's a reason I opted for the more comforting institutional neutrality that comes with the term "content warning" as opposed to the more divisive "trigger warning," even though they refer to the same thing. In reality, the swaths of debate surrounding this topic misconstrue the sincere intent of implementing content warnings. When we strip away the politics, we find several misconceptions worth debunking.

Firstly, conversation on content warnings often seems to revert to egotistical debates about whether we "need" them or not. This does little but emphasize existing stereotypes pitting the infantile left against the backwards right and swings the focus in a full 180 right back to the self.

The truth is, while we can all benefit from the learning environment that content warnings promote, we don't all need them in the same ways. As a non-epileptic person, I have no issue with warnings about flashing lights at a concert if they mean everyone can boogie in peace. As a pedestrian, I have no issue with a sign that warns drivers of potholes on the road if they mean my fellow road-users will enjoy a smooth ride to brunch. The intent of the content warning is to create a safe, productive and accessible learning environment for everyone - and from this we all may reap the benefits.

The second misconception is that content warnings are about censorship. From personal experience, content warnings are rarely a deterrent. Usually, it's quite the opposite. They actively encourage us to pause, then focus on difficult issues with a critical eye in an accommodating environment. They don't sanitize or remove emotion - merely prepare us for it.

On the few occasions that one's personal response is so extreme as to choose to sit out a reading? It is not a radical notion that we might skip a few pages over reliving personal trauma for the sake of a single assignment or class.

For all the talk of care for mental wellbeing in our UNC community, this is one tangible, guaranteed way to put our promises into policy. With a topic so sensitive, this burden should not fall upon individual professors.

A University-wide policy on content warnings in classes would not only bridge the disconnect between voiced support of content warnings and the failure of their implementation, but ensure consistency between classes and support professors in an environment void of shame. A number of resources exist to help UNC implement this, including websites which list the vast majority of sensitive topics in many specific books and films. The University of Michigan also suggests a comprehensive list of topics which should consistently be flagged.

Ultimately, content warnings are here to help, not hinder, academic conversation. Why not view them as just a small part of fostering respect, openness and solidarity on our campus? Why not show that we are an academic community who cares for one another and channel this care into action? Whether they might apply to you or not, content warnings deserve a place on our campus, in our classes and in our academic policy.