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Today, I become an editor emeritus of The Daily Tar Heel. Or at least I’ll go with that title. It sounds a lot cooler than “former,” right?I’m ending a journey that began four years ago, when I came to campus with not a whole lot more than a map, a national championship T-shirt and a goofy OneCard picture.By the grace of God, that map led me into the DTH office.Of course, I have the obligatory wonderful memories as a basketball fan. I’ll never forget every floor of Morrison Residence Hall exploding after Wayne Ellington hit a 3-pointer to beat Clemson in overtime. Or beating Duke in 2007 and rushing Franklin Street — but making sure to stop and bear hug the Davie Poplar on the way.But even more important than that, through my work here I’ve had the honor of getting to know the people who make up UNC — and they are what make this place special.They’re people like John Sanders, who has spent about half a century serving UNC and the state, from playing a key role in drafting the state Constitution to advising generations of chancellors. The man has a building on campus named after him, but he says his main joy is to spend time with students.They’re the brilliant scientists and educators who give a UNC diploma the value it has. People like chemistry professor Joe DeSimone, who is doing biomedical research that could revolutionize how we treat cancer. And history professor Jim Leloudis, whose lectures on N.C. history captivated me more than any I’ve heard.And they’re people like you and me — the ones who study and protest and sweat and work late into the night. Sure, I can take pride that as editor-in-chief this year, I’ve managed to produce nearly 150 issues.But that’s not even close to being my favorite part of the job.I’ve loved learning how you read the DTH and talking about what you think about our coverage and what you’re looking for in our pages.And I have loved working with the staff of the DTH. They make this paper, not me. And they will continue to do great things next year.In the first issue of this school year, I made a lot of promises.I said we would keep you informed and hold your leaders accountable, dedicating ourselves to finding the stories behind the big issues.Overall, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. We’ve taken you behind the University’s review of the Greek system, the development of University Square, the search for a new provost and money woes in Orange County’s emergency services department — among many, many others throughout the year.I also pledged that the DTH would be a responsive member of the community and not a walled fortress.I’ve tried hard to make this a reality. I failed at creating the Community Feedback Board. I didn’t spend enough time recruiting and trying to get people involved. But to make up for that, I have tried extremely hard to make sure people felt like my door was always open to come talk to me about their concerns.No, we haven’t been perfect. But just like all of you, I feel we’ve made this campus a better place.And I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The controversy over the ousting of Duke University’s College Republicans chairman has garnered national attention — sparking discussion on two campuses and a firestorm on Internet comment boards.The reaction has been all over the map, with all parties involved being condemned at some point — even The Daily Tar Heel.We have been called insensitive bullies who forced a man “out.” We’ve been accused of bias against Republicans. And people have wondered why we would want to put this situation on the front page.It’s undeniable that this is an interesting story, if judging only by the sheer number of comments it has provoked. But why do we feel this is this important to our readers?For one, the impeachment of Justin Robinette — who claims to have been forced out of the group because he is gay — involves UNC directly. One of the charges against him is that he did not adequately plan and execute joint events with the UNC College Republicans. Another wrinkle is that Robinette was recently named co-chairman of the N.C. Federation of College Republicans, alongside a UNC student. UNC College Republicans has also pledged its support for their Duke brethren.But more than that, the provocative nature of the allegations touches at the heart of issues we discuss at UNC every day.UNC’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender-Straight Alliance continually keeps civil rights issues in the spotlight, and the University’s LGBTQ Center is one of the nation’s leaders in putting together progressive policies when it comes to gay rights — all while the national debate rages around us.Because of the sensitive nature of the situation, we kept ethical reporting guidelines firmly in mind as we pursued the story. We did not set out to air anyone’s private matters. The e-mail detailing Robinette’s allegations about the impeachment was widely circulated and made its way to several members of DTH staff — and it was already being discussed on both sides of Tobacco Road.We also did not force anyone to talk to us or to tell us confidential information. We contacted Robinette and many members of the College Republicans on both campuses and asked for their comment on the situation. Their words were freely spoken.Several of our sources requested to meet and speak with a reporter in person, and the requests were granted.My policy is to never surprise the subjects of our stories with what we print in the next day’s paper. While not everyone we spoke to was thrilled with what we were writing, our reporters came to a reasoned understanding with each source.We did what we aim to do on any public controversy: report on it fully, fairly and accurately.No, we didn’t know all the facts when we wrote the story Sunday, and we still don’t. But we felt it important to present what we knew to stimulate as productive a campus discussion as possible. We laid out each argument, but only stated as fact what we could confirm from both sides. We will continue to find out how the controversy will affect these large and visible student groups on both of our campuses.And if you think we are falling down on the job, please continue to let us know.Andrew Dunn is a senior journalism major from Apex. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus police departments at UNC-system schools do a decent job complying with federal and state public disclosure laws — with a few notable exceptions.In honor of Sunshine Week, The Daily Tar Heel decided to evaluate how well campus police departments at public universities around the state follow the federal Clery Act and the N.C. public records law.Reporters were sent to many schools with simple inquiries:-Can I see the police log?-Can you tell me how many sexual assaults there have been on campus this school year?-Can you give me the names, ages and addresses of all students arrested for driving while impaired on campus in 2009?According to the statutes, the police log should have been provided immediately, and responses to the second two inquiries given as promptly as possible.People requesting the information are not required to state a reason for wanting it.“The public records law reflects the important principles of the public’s right to know about the workings of government,” said Ashley Perkinson, a media law attorney. “Certainly in the area of public safety, the public’s right to know is critical for a safe society.”
We got a visit Thursday night from a few dozen people who delivered letters and a petition asking The Daily Tar Heel to change its style guide.They would like to see us use the word “chair” instead of “chairman” or “chairwoman,” and “upper-level student” instead of “upperclassman,” in order to be more inclusive.I agree completely with them that there is much work to be done in eliminating violence and discrimination against women. And discrimination against people uncomfortable being labeled male or female is definitely a pressing issue.We have covered these issues extensively on our pages in the past few years, and we will continue to do so.But this year, at least, we will not be adopting gender-neutral language.Our business is communication. Like it or not, words like “freshman” and “upperclassman” are what people most easily understand. They also correspond to Associated Press style, which is used by almost every news organization in the nation.Of course, just because something is accepted does not make it right.For the majority of women I have spoken to, being called a freshman has never made them feel like less of a person.And in our stories, we identify people as they wish to be identified.Changing words doesn’t change the fact that there are gender inequities. Focusing on words — instead of the root problems — only gives the words a more negative context.Let’s find a way together to most efficiently and effectively address these issues.
In the team's first ACC matchup of the season, North Carolina beat N.C. State 7-0.
I think we look pretty good for being 117 years old.On this day in 1893, seven of the 376 students at UNC gathered to publish the first issue of The Tar Heel.In the years since then, generations of student journalists have covered the comings and goings of six University presidents and 11 chancellors.We’ve moved from a product of the Athletic Association to complete editorial and financial independence. And we’ve grown from four pages weekly to about 12 every day.But honestly, the main changes at The Daily Tar Heel through the decades have been in clothing, hairdos and technology — not in spirit. That is our greatest strength.Every year, a new crop of students floods the DTH office — ambitious, passionate and eager to discover the community for the first time.Instead of being weighed down by tradition and the ways things have always been done, we find inspiration in our past.We look to the people who have come before us as a standard and a guide, pushing ourselves to always find ways to better serve the community. Every new wave of staff members brings their own ideas.The spirit of The Daily Tar Heel is steadfast because of, not in spite of, those constant changes.We still question authority on all levels, from administrators, the government and society. We don’t accept the status quo as a valid reason or excuse.We still attack problems with the idealistic view that we can change things for the better, instead of retreating in cynicism.We still put in the time and effort that only college students running on caffeine and Pop-Tarts can afford.And we still strive to earn the trust and attention of the student body as if it were for the first time.I think those seven founding staff members of The Tar Heel would feel right at home in the office today. If only we could get them out of coat and tails.
Two UNC library systems will soon be consolidated — and layoffs could be on the way.Starting April 1, the Health Sciences Library will be run through the main University Libraries system. The health library is currently independent.The two departments will then work to combine services and lower costs, according to a letter sent to deans Friday. Layoffs are likely, interim provost Bruce Carney said in an interview.The changes are part of the cost-cutting and consolidating measures taken as a response to the Bain & Co. study last year. The consulting firm reported that UNC’s bureaucracy is too complex.“It makes more sense to have one librarian in charge than two,” Carney said. “It’s just time to take a look at how we do things.”The first change is organizational. The Health Sciences Library director will report to the University librarian. Both had reported to the provost’s office.University Librarian Sarah Michalak will then represent all of the campus libraries, excluding the law library.Carol Jenkins, who has been Health Sciences Library director since 1986, said she didn’t know what changes were going to take place, but that they shouldn’t be noticeable to library patrons.She said she has worked with Michalak and University Libraries before, coordinating which libraries would maintain copies of particular books and journals.“We’ve worked together before and very collegially,” Jenkins said. “While people may tend to see this as negative because of the cost-cutting, we’re using it as an opportunity.”In 2007-08, University Libraries had an annual budget of $45.4 million. More than half of that went to wages and salaries, supporting about 250 professional staff members and 400 student employees.The Health Sciences Library’s annual budget is about $8 million, and the library has about 70 full-time employees.Mary Beth Allen, associate professor of library administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said her campus library system has also had a movement toward consolidating services.She said libraries have cut down on duplication of material and that some smaller divisions have closed or gone online-only.Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
UPDATE 6:30 P.M. WEDNESDAY — Police said they believe the woman who was found dead on Interstate 40 near the Streets at Southpoint mall this morning had been in a wreck and then walked into traffic.
A Randolph County judge ruled Friday that the dashboard camera video showing Courtland Smith's interaction with police in the minutes before he was shot and killed should be permanently sealed.
This article was published in the 2009 Year in Review issue of The Daily Tar Heel.
Video that shows junior Courtland Smith’s interaction with police officers just before he was shot to death will not be released to the public, a Randolph County judge declared Tuesday.After reviewing the tape, Superior Court Judge Brad Long ruled that the video is not a public record because it was compiled by the State Board of Investigation as it reviews the incident.The video was taken by dashboard cameras in the police cars that stopped the former Delta Kappa Epsilon president, who was killed by Archdale police Aug. 23.The video does not show Smith being shot, but does show the interaction between Smith and police officers before the shooting and the officers’ actions immediately after, according to the court order.Should the Randolph County district attorney decide not to pursue a case against the officer involved, the video will be immediately released.If a case is pursued, the video will become public record when presented as evidence or the trial concludes.No decision on that has been made. The SBI is still investigating the incident, which is common in cases of officer-related shootings.Smith, a biology major, was shot to death Aug. 23 near Greensboro by Archdale officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum, 29, according to the SBI. Flinchum and a second officer present at the time of the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave.Attorneys working for a coalition of local media outlets, including The Daily Tar Heel, argued in a court hearing Sept. 18 that the video is public record and should be released. Randolph County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Gregson, and ultimately Long, disagreed.“The right of the state of North Carolina to potentially prosecute someone for the death of another without having that right jeopardized or the right of a potential defendant to a fair trial when facing severe penalties are paramount and far outweigh the need of the public to review the actions of its agencies,” Long wrote.The court order also mandates the release of an unedited copy of the 911 call Smith placed before he was stopped.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video that shows junior Courtland Smith’s interaction with police officers just before he was shot to death will not be released to the public, a Randolph County judge declared Tuesday.
I understand why the Greek community is upset.Our headlines have been dominated by topics that relate to fraternities and sororities — some directly, others less so.We have not devoted so much space to these issues because of a vendetta against the Greek system. Many members of The Daily Tar Heel, including editors, are in fraternities or sororities.But cocaine arrests and the changing relationship between the University and the fraternity system are big news in our community, and we would be irresponsible if we chose not to cover them as completely as possible.Several letters to the editor and online comments have questioned why we mentioned the Greek connections of several students arrested for cocaine possession.I don’t think cocaine use is endemic to the sorority system. We’ve been cognizant of that in our articles. The DTH has for years published the address of arrested students when the information is available, and such a policy is common practice at news organizations throughout the country.A recent example is last spring, when a student was charged with taking pictures of women in the shower. We noted that he lived in Teague Residence Hall.And you better believe that if five DTH staffers were arrested on cocaine possession charges, their mug shots and addresses would be right up there on the front page.We’ve also been asked why we reported on the cocaine arrests and did not write a story about several DTH staff members being cited for underage alcohol possession.For years, the DTH has made it a policy not to write about incidents of underage drinking. Unfortunately, in this town or any college town, it’s not news. On any given weekend, up to two dozen people are given citations by the Chapel Hill Police Department for underage drinking.An individual incident is not news. It becomes newsworthy when it results in suspension, investigation or intervention by a high-level UNC administrator.That’s why we reported on the swim team captains being suspended. We knew of the citations the day before, but the fact that they were cited did not merit attention, though it was reported by The (Raleigh) News and Observer. When they were suspended, it became news.The DTH has spent considerable time delving into the relationship between the Greek system and the University. When Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that UNC would be re-evaluating how the University deals with fraternities in the wake of the death of the Delta Kappa Epsilon president, we knew we had a huge issue on our hands. Nearly 20 percent of campus is Greek, and Greek ties run deep into UNC’s history as the oldest public university in the country.You may disagree with these guidelines. But in a job that requires so many ethical decisions made on a daily basis, we stick with the policies that have helped make us one of the best college newspapers in the country.We will be holding the first meeting of our Community Feedback Board at 2 p.m. Oct. 9 in Union Room 3413.I look forward to taking the opportunity to hear your thoughts on our coverage this year, about the Greek community and other topics.
ASHEBORO — Video that likely captured junior Courtland Smith’s final moments is being reviewed by a Randolph County judge, who will decide whether the footage should be released to the public.The video was taken by dashboard cameras in the police cars that stopped the former Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity president, who was shot to death by Archdale police Aug. 23.Attorneys working for a coalition of local media outlets argued in a court hearing Friday that the video is public record and should be released.“The public deserves to know … whether the shooting was justified,” said attorney Hugh Stevens, who represents The Daily Tar Heel, WRAL and The (Raleigh) News & Observer, among several other news organizations. “At least it will shed light on what is a very dark corner.”One of the county’s assistant district attorneys, Andrew Gregson, fought to keep the video sealed, saying it is not a public record under North Carolina law and that releasing it could jeopardize the investigation and taint a potential jury pool.“Everyone in the state would have seen it and made up their mind,” he said at the hearing, though he was careful to say that no decision has been made on whether to prosecute any officers involved.Randolph County Superior Court Judge Brad Long said he will review the video and rule on the motion to release it sometime this week. Smith, a biology major, was shot to death Aug. 23 near Greensboro by Archdale officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum, 29, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.The SBI is still investigating the incident, which is common in cases of officer-related shootings.Flinchum and a second officer present at the time of the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave.The 911 call Smith placed and police radio traffic related to the incident have already been released.The call revealed Smith saying he was drunk and might have been armed. Smith told the dispatcher that he was trying to kill himself, that he had been drinking and that he had a 9 mm pistol in his back pocket.The radio traffic showed that officers who stopped Smith had been told that he was potentially armed and suicidal.Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
ASHEBORO -- Video that likely captured junior Courtland Smith's final moments is being reviewed by a Randolph County judge, who will decide whether the footage should be released to the public.
UNC administrators are investigating whether the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity party held the night the organization’s president was shot dead by police violated University rules, Chancellor Holden Thorp said Friday.
We are hurting.Like many students around campus, The Daily Tar Heel is struggling to come to grips with the loss of our classmate, Courtland Smith.You have every right to question how we’ve covered the issue, and you have exercised it. That’s why I wanted to explain why we’ve reported the way we have.Because the situation is so painful, we’re even more mindful of our role in the community as we report on it. We have worked hard to avoid any sensationalism and have always kept in mind that the people most affected by our coverage are our friends and neighbors.We, like everyone else, are searching for answers. Especially in this case, when so much is unknown, it’s hard to come to grips with what happened.We want to do everything we can to answer the questions you need answered.The decision to post the 911 call was not an automatic one, and I knew it would be controversial.We posted the tape to help as we all struggle to make sense of the tragedy. If listening to the tape will be able to help you understand what happened, please listen.We’ve also decided to not allow comments on stories online about Courtland after receiving hateful messages. While we want interaction between readers and the newsroom, allowing these comments would be irresponsible.We want to be able to paint a picture of who he was and how he will be remembered. If you have memories of Courtland Smith, please share them with us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call (919) 962-0372.
Dailytarheel.com — a new Web site will help keep you informedThe Daily Tar Heel has always been at the forefront of digital innovation. When we launched our Web site in 1994, we were one of the first newspapers to set foot in cyberspace.Since then, we haven’t stopped innovating. If you’re been to our site this week, you’ve seen our latest effort: a brand new dailytarheel.com. We’ve been working on the site throughout the summer and are pleased to bring you new features that will create a better online experience.The Web site is at the forefront of our online goals for the upcoming year. Dailytarheel.com should be the place you go when you want to know what’s happening in your community. We’ll be posting more throughout the day so that if there’s something you need to know, it’ll be online.
Today’s paper describes the uncertainty that’s pervasive on campus and in our community.For freshmen, there’s the thrill and anxiety of moving to campus for the first time. For UNC employees, there’s the fear of losing their jobs as administrators slash budgets.Even within The Daily Tar Heel, there’s change. We debuted a revamped Web site and work flow in our newsroom. Check out page 8 to see the new features. And we’ve got a new crop of editors to boot.But don’t be uncertain about the quality of your DTH. We are back and better than ever.We always take seriously the responsibility of keeping you informed and holding your leaders accountable. This year, we shoulder it again with renewed vigor and purpose. We will be your eyes, ears and sometimes your voice as administrators decide where to make budget cuts and Chapel Hill and Carrboro elections go down to the wire.I’m particularly excited that two crucial parts of our newsroom — and your pages — have been revived this year.The arts desk is returning to give you comprehensive coverage of the vibrant visual and performing arts communities surrounding campus.And the investigative team will again delve through documents, records and data to get the stories behind the big issues.We’ve put together a supremely talented team of staffers and editors to get all this done. But we’re going to need you to help us become the source of news that you need.The Daily Tar Heel has been knocked before and called a walled fortress, one that doesn’t accept outside opinions. I’ve also heard folks say that our staff is composed of tunnel-visioned zombies who have sold their souls to the newspaper.If you’ve felt that way in the past, hear this: None of what we do is worth a darn unless we are truly serving you.A few years ago, the DTH editor made a vow to take time each day to simply walk through campus and talk to people. I’m going to bring that back. If I run into somebody walking out of Davis Library who we aren’t serving well, we need to change. And for when I’m not meandering through the quad, we’re making it as easy as possible for you to get your voice heard this year.We’re resurrecting the Community Feedback Board, which in past years has brought together students, faculty, staff and community members to critique the DTH and tell us how we can be doing better.A newly created Innovation Team will get your input and ideas for our Web site. And we’ve hired a community manager to reach out on Twitter and Facebook.Of course, you’re always free to send me an e-mail, come by my office hours, call my phone or stop me as we pass in the Pit.In every doctor’s office and bank, you’ll see a “Bill of Rights.” This spells out what the patient or customer can expect, what the company must provide.At The Daily Tar Heel, our entire existence is based on trust. So here’s your “Reader Bill of Rights.” If we aren’t living up to these standards, tell us strongly and loudly.We pledge that: -We will always strive to make every word printed on our pages or on the Web site factual, both technically and in spirit. -Our reporters will always cut through the spin and seek the full story. -The DTH will always be a responsive member of the community. As part of that, every one of your voices will be heard and respected. -The DTH’s editorial page will always be a strong voice for positive change.If we’re not living up to these standards, you better let us know.
The Daily Tar Heel was shut out of a meeting between University administrators, deans and town leaders Wednesday based on a nonbinding agreement unchallenged in 12 years.
The legal basis for closing the meeting never has been resolved.
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Chancellor Holden Thorp, Provost Bernadette Gray-Little, vice chancellors, deans and department heads met to discuss policies related to faculty tenure and faculty and student recruitment.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy joined them in the afternoon to discuss ways to encourage economic development in the towns.
Daily Tar Heel reporters attempted to cover the meetings because officials were discussing policies that affect its readership, but were told the meeting was closed.
University General Counsel Leslie Strohm justified the closing by referring to a 1996 agreement between the N.C. Press Association and the University.
It was intended as a temporary solution to avoid a lawsuit and is not binding to any party, including the University and the NCPA.
"Nobody knew how this was going to work," said N.C. Press Association General Counsel Amanda Martin, also a lawyer for the DTH. "It was a compromise and a 'let's see.'"
Under the agreement, the University would open some of the meetings in dispute, and the press association would not sue.
But the agreement also said other organizations are free to challenge it, according to a memo from Dick Robinson, UNC-system counsel at the time.
Closing Wednesday's meeting likely meets the spirit of the 1996 agreement, Martin said. But the legal basis for closing it remains murky.
N.C. statute says meetings solely among professional staff are not covered by the open meetings law.
The meeting involved the input of University officials who were selected by the chancellor. Under N.C. law, those appointed to a group and serving in an advisory position are considered members of a public body.
The courts are charged with interpreting the law, but in this specific situation there is no definitive legal precedent, Martin said. But she also said that just because a meeting can be closed doesn't mean it has to be.
"I believe public officials should strive whenever possible to conduct their business in public," she said.
Thorp said it wouldn't be "appropriate" to have the press at a meeting designed for free discussion of ideas and proposals, though he said he might allow the press to a small part of the meeting next year.
"We're talking about a lot of stuff we're not ready to reveal yet," he said, citing faculty retention and student recruitment. "I think you can understand why we wouldn't want that in the DTH."
Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.