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The new SafeWalk program has good intentions. But it is not a solution to an illusory threat. The program provides the student with two trusted peers, one male and one female, to walk him or her to an on-campus location during late-night hours when the student might feel unsafe.The walkers are trained by the Department of Public Safety and paid by the hour.The total cost of the program will reach more than $20,000. More than $11,000 of the costs are funded by the student safety and security committee. So is this program worth the costs? Is the campus a legitimately unsafe place to walk around at night? From 2006 to 2008, two separate reports from the Department of Public Safety showed no homicides or forcible rapes. In that same time span, only eight cases of campus robbery were reported.Of the 25 sexual offenses that were reported during those three years, 16 came from inside residence halls. Granted, many sexual offenses are not reported.But the fact is, UNC is a very safe community.Further, these SafeWalk peers will not be permitted to walk students to off-campus locations or to walk students who are intoxicated. If a program like this is to exist, why not use it in cases when student safety could be a legitimate concern?Because this program is not about student safety, but instead about making sure middle-class students feel comfortable. In the insulated bubble that is UNC, students don’t have to deal with the crime that affects most communities. But despite this, paranoia still plagues the bourgeois culture that worry about the “criminals” and the “lowlifes” that might be haunting the streets.So we make programs like SafeWalk. It’s not that student safety isn’t a legitimate concern. Students should take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Bringing a partner with you at night certainly can’t hurt.But don’t make others pay for a program because some students have irrational fears about campus safety.Besides, crime needs to be solved from its source. The $20,000 could be given to local police or toward social welfare programs.Although the majority of this money will end up going back to students, it will only go back to those select few who work the SafeWalk shifts.In the world outside of UNC, SafeWalk doesn’t exist. But you can always arm the alarm and lock doors in your gated community. The boogie man is out there.
Earlier this year, Chapel Hill was named the most livable small city in the country by the United States Conference of Mayors.Free public transit, a sustainable environment and local businesses all contribute to Chapel Hill’s small-town atmosphere and make it a great place to live. They make Chapel Hill unique.So let’s not change that vision by considering a “big-box” store, such as a Wal-Mart or a Target. These stores would contribute to destroying the reputation Chapel Hill has as an offbeat town.The noise, pollution and mass consumerism that this type of store will bring run counter to the values Chapel Hill espouses.Yes, the presence of a Wal-Mart or a Target could potentially generate the sales tax revenue that the town lacks. Currently, many residents of the town travel outside county lines to shop at these “big-box” stores, which takes away sales tax revenue away from the county. This, in turn, takes away from the town, and to compensate, the town has had to maintain high property taxes to pay for basic municipal services. But living in the most livable small town in the country has to come with a price. Property taxes are high, but that comes with the territory. While generating sales tax revenue through a Wal-Mart might lessen property taxes, it would also hurt the quality of life. Large corporate conglomerates displace local businesses, create traffic jams and foster an atmosphere that doesn’t fit the small-town vibe Chapel Hill embodies. It’s not that these stores don’t have their place. In large metropolitan areas like Raleigh, Durham or Charlotte, these stores can bring jobs and revenue. But Chapel Hill is unique and must be treated differently. The town already has a Lowe’s Home Improvement and a Borders store and does not need any more high-density commercial development. There is also the issue of space. According to Emil Malizia, chairman of the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, space is the biggest barrier to allowing big-box stores. Simply finding retail space is difficult enough, much less finding the necessary space for parking. Creating space by displacing other businesses is not an option. An argument could also be made that the town simply doesn’t have a market to support these types of stores. While big-box stores might work in other cities, they simply aren’t for Chapel Hill. The most livable small town in the United States needs to stay that way by sticking to its values.
Almost two weeks ago, the N.C. State Board of Community Colleges approved a policy that would allow undocumented immigrants to attend community college at out-of-state tuition rates.Although this is a victory for achieving equity in college access, the initiative will have little practical effect.In order for North Carolina to be a progressive state, it must grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition status. Out-of-state rates are simply too expensive for most undocumented immigrants to afford, advocates say.The current out-of-state tuition for an individual to attend community college totals $7,700 per year. This is more than $6,000 above the average in-state tuition.Additionally, the community college system makes about $1,700 in profit for every out- of-state student.Community colleges were created to develop the state’s workforce, not to make money.But even notching down the tuition price by the profit margin won’t be enough to make community college a feasible option. Undocumented immigrants must simply be treated like everyone else who lives in the state.In-state tuition is subsidized by taxpayer money; so naturally, the “who-is-going-to-pay-for-this” question arises.However, most anti-immigrant rhetoric is built off of the false assumption that undocumented immigrants simply don’t pay taxes.Anytime a person purchases an item from the grocery store, regardless of his documentation, he pays sales tax. If that person owns property, he is paying taxes on that as well.Two studies show that a high percentage of undocumented immigrants pay payroll taxes. A Bush administration study put the figure at 50 percent. And according to the Social Security Administration, up to three-quarters of undocumented immigrants are thought to pay their payroll taxes.A study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that $7 billion of Social Security and Medicare revenue comes from undocumented immigrants on a national level. But these workers won’t see a penny of it.Not having the proper documents does not necessarily exempt individuals from paying taxes. But it can preclude them from receiving benefits divvied out by our government.Allowing undocumented immigrants to attend community college at in-state tuition rates isn’t a foreign concept either.California, New York, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas have all adopted a plan that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition for community colleges.And if North Carolina wants to see development in its future workforce, it would be wise to do the same.Undocumented immigrants make up a sizeable minority in the state that will need access to education to keep North Carolina a productive state.Ron Bilbao, president of the UNC Coalition for College Access, feels that opening up community colleges to undocumented immigrants will mean little without in-state tuition or financial aid.“We can’t keep giving these people hope and then take it away,” Bilbao said. “Something permanent needs to be done.”But aside from all the statistics, the state needs to adopt this policy simply because access to education is a human right. Our meritocratic society is based around the assurance that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed — which is provided through access to education.Undocumented immigrants are still very much integrated into our state, regardless of citizenship status. Their papers don’t make them residents, the location of their homes do. By charging out-of-state tuition for people who are, for all intents and purposes, residents, we create a stratified environment that favors some more than others.We can all pat ourselves on the back for the recent progress made, but until it has a tangible effect, the initiative is nothing but a hollow promise.The next step must be taken. The state should grant undocumented immigrants in-state tuition.
The issue: Laptop use in class can be a contentious issue. Some argue that laptops can be distracting and that professors reserve the right to ban their use outright. Others believe that laptops aid in the learning process and students should have the right to use them in class. In today’s Viewpoints, two members of the DTH Editorial Board debate their side of the issue.