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Chancellor Holden Thorp said Thursday that he will closely watch the relationship between campus and the Greek system to make sure both focus on academics above everything else.“I just think that studying is so much more important than all that other stuff,” Thorp said. “We want Greek life to be safe and conducive to academic success.”The chancellor’s first open house of the academic year gave him a forum to explain that he will make sure extracurricular activities supplement the University’s academic mission, something he said he considers in every decision he makes. That includes the University’s relationship with Greek organizations, which has been a particular focus this semester.The death of a fraternity president, sanctions for alcohol violations against the same fraternity and the discovery of cocaine in a building associated with a fraternity has raised the profile of Greek life and substance abuse. The events caused Thorp and other administrators to re-examine their policies and relationships with the Greek community.“Carolina is committed to having a vibrant Greek life on campus,” Thorp said to a crowd of about 40 students and administrators in the Student Union fishbowl lounge.He added that his focus and involvement with the Greek system has increased in recent months.Thorp said he was surprised by how much previous policies concerning the Greek organizations focused on rush protocol, such as prohibiting hazing and alcohol during those weeks. The most recent version of these policies was adopted in 2007.Thorp said his non-Greek background allowed him to approach the situation with an open mind. He said most of his approach to dealing with the Greek system has been informed by previous chancellors.“I’ve always stuck with what my predecessors did unless I need to change it,” he said.Senior Jennings Carpenter, student body treasurer and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said he thought Thorp’s reactions to issues with the Greek community have been fair.Carpenter said Thorp’s familial connections with Greek life give him perspective on the situation. Thorp’s father and brother were both members of fraternities at UNC.“Just because he wasn’t a Greek doesn’t mean he doesn’t have ties,” Carpenter said.While recognizing the importance of maintaining standards within the system, the chancellor noted the challenges of mandating behavior within fraternities and sororities.Thorp said being a fraternity or sorority president must be a hard job, dealing with a large budget and numerous members. He related the job’s responsibility to running the philosophy department in size and budget.Thorp said he doesn’t think any of the issues will be resolved overnight.“One thing that is true for me is that I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and not have this on my plate,” Thorp said.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the presence of protesters and a general sense of nervous anticipation surrounding the event, conservative group Youth for Western Civilization managed Thursday to smoothly host its first lecture since protests disrupted talks last spring.Former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan spoke in the Union Auditorium on Thursday night to a small but attentive audience about the necessity of free speech and the perils of illegal immigration. “I want to talk about the importance of free speech, a topic that must be missed in History 101 around here,” Buchanan said.Her speech marked a peaceful event for the UNC chapter of Youth for Western Civilization, which was plagued with a rocky start this fall, including difficulty finding an adviser.Buchanan addressed an array of issues in her speech, such as leadership in government, the effects of illegal immigration on the economy and the protection of the nation’s borders. Buchanan also said she thinks society’s obsession with being politically correct often limits free speech.“The word ‘offended’ is an active verb. It means you choose to be offended,” she said. “So who are you to decide what I can and can’t say?”At least 10 police officerswere on hand to ensure that Buchanan was able to deliver her speech peacefully. But their presence didn’t stop senior Haley Koch from protesting.Koch — arrested after a protest last spring that prevented U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., from speaking — staged a dramatic performance Thursday night in front of the auditorium before Buchanan’s speech. Wielding a horse whip, chains and a paddle, fellow protesters pretended to scold Koch for a variety of “offenses.” They pretended to beat her and led her into the auditorium in chains. At one point in the performance, Koch read the First Amendment through the gag placed in her mouth, symbolizing what she feels is the suppression of her right to free speech on campus.“I hope our performance caused people to think differently about the questions we raised and challenge their ideas,” Koch said.Koch remained gagged throughout the first half of the speech, drawing audience members’ attention. She exited the auditorium halfway through the speech.Lauren Atencio, a senior economics major, said she thought Koch’s actions were a ploy for attention.“I hope that will satiate them for a while,” she said.Some members of the audience interrupted Buchanan throughout the speech with audible comments. Buchanan did not respond to the diversions.“When you squash the ability to talk about an issue in a civil way, you lose the opportunity for the truth to come out,” Buchanan said in her speech.The speech was funded by a $3,000 reimbursement by Chancellor Holden Thorp to YWC for the Tancredo speech in April. Senior Marius Lorentzen questioned the protestors’ motivations.“When are they going to acknowledge other people’s right to freedom of speech?” he said.Students from across the political spectrum were in attendance.Buchanan spoke last spring as YWC’s first sponsored speaker in their first year as an official club.Freshman Tyler Hopkins said he attended the speech to have his views challenged.“It made me strengthen my own opinions,” he said.The story so far
Five months after a campus protest gained national attention, student leaders sat down again for a public discussion on free speech.The discussion — held in honor of the campuswide First Amendment Day celebration — largely focused on senior Haley Koch’s participation in a protest of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. His April 14 visit was hosted by Youth for Western Civilization.YWC President Nikhil Patel and media lawyer Hugh Stevens joined Koch on Thursday in Carroll Hall to discuss whether she was exercising her First Amendment rights or infringing upon Tancredo’s. Tancredo cut his speech short after police used pepper spray to disperse protesters and a window was broken.Koch said she and the other protesters were simply voicing their opinions and did not force Tancredo to cut short his speech.When questioned by a panelist as to whether she believed certain voices should be stifled, Koch said that in some cases, they should.“I don’t feel their voices contribute to a civil debate or an intellectual climate,” Koch said. “I hope that students will self-organize to decide what is acceptable on a campus community.”Patel disagreed. He said the protest made some conservative students feel they couldn’t openly express their views on campus.Stevens, a UNC alumnus, said protesting is fundamental to expressing diverse opinions, but that Koch’s approach was a violation of Tancredo’s rights. He added that he was disappointed with both the manner by which the Tancredo protest was carried out and the way Koch’s arrest nine days later was handled.Koch was arrested outside a classroom without prior notification of the warrant for her arrest. The charge of disrupting the peace was dismissed last month.“The University’s role should be to set a tone and a setting for civil discourse,” Stevens said. “Nobody benefits from this kind of situation on either end.”Sam Wardle, a senior journalism major, said he organized the panel to discuss civil protest on campus following the April 14 incident.“I knew they were all intelligent, reasonable and articulate people,” Wardle said. “We wanted to bring them together to show people they could hold a civil discussion.”Stevens said he considered the discussion vital for the University. “If we don’t have the ability to hear each other, then the value of the speech is lost because we’re not really listening,” he said. Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
The masks are coming off.Campus Health Services is taking a momentary sigh of relief thanks to a dip in the number of suspected cases of H1N1.The Alert Carolina Web site, which tracks reported cases, shows that fewer students are reporting flu-like symptoms.“The numbers are very reassuring,” said Mary Beth Koza, director of UNC’s Department of Environment, Health and Safety.Reported cases are based on a checklist of symptoms, not laboratory testing. Due to a high number of cases and expensive lab costs, tests are reserved for hospitalized patients.People with H1N1 symptoms have been told to take the precautions, assuming they have the virus. Koza said the H1N1 virus has been infecting the campus in waves. The first wave lasted for approximately 12 weeks this spring, she said.UNC might be seeing the end of a second wave that began at the start of the semester, Koza said.Mary Covington, assistant vice chancellor for Campus Health Services, said the decrease in cases can likely be attributed to precautions and a greater awareness of how to avoid catching the flu.Precautions include covering one’s mouth and nose when sneezing, avoiding contact with sick people and staying at home if symptoms occur.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect to have an H1N1 vaccine available soon.Despite the current decrease in reported cases, the winter flu season is approaching. This means a third wave of infections could still happen, Covington said.For students to keep from getting sick in the next campus outbreak, Koza said they should be prepared with a flu kit.A flu kit should include ibuprofen or acetaminophen, tissues, hand sanitizer, a thermometer and surgical masks. All these are available at Campus Health Services.“Many people already have all the components. It’s like a hurricane kit — everyone should have one prepared,” Koza said.Koza also suggested that students and employees have flu buddies, responsible for getting food, medicine and help.“The issue is still serious,” she said. “If you’re not feeling well after three days, you need to seek medical attention.”Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UNC Greek system is looking to its newest members to help improve its relationship with the University.The New Member Challenge, which encourages fraternity and sorority recruits to become involved in the University’s non-Greek organizations, is designed to bridge the Greek community with the rest of campus.“The danger of Greek organizations is getting too involved in a little community,” said Russell Martin, a sophomore member of Phi Delta Theta, who helped win the challenge for his fraternity last year.Sunday night, Winston Crisp, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, gave a speech to new members and fraternity leaders, warning them to steer away from destructive behavior such as alcohol abuse and hazing. He told them the future of the Greek system was in their hands.While recent events have cast a shadow over the more positive aspects of the system, Brent Blonkvist, Interfraternity Council vice president for internal affairs, said the program reinforces the Greek community’s effort to contribute to the rest of the University community.“We want to use every opportunity to highlight the positive aspects of Greek life,” Blonkvist said. The challenge includes a checklist of goals related to academic performance, community service, health awareness, leadership and council collaboration.Tasks range from maintaining a high grade point average and getting involved in organizations outside members’ respective chapters to planning at least one alcohol-free social event.The challenge also provides incentives beyond the benefits of branching out to the broader UNC community.Each completed task earns points for the new member’s fraternity or sorority chapter. The chapter with the most points wins a $1,000 donation to a philanthropic organization of their choice, as well as an award.Jenny Levering, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life, said she created the challenge two years ago in order to give new Greek members positive programs. She said elements of the challenge were modeled after similar efforts by universities across the country.Martin said the challenge encourages Greeks to use the power of a cohesive organization to band together and benefit the community.“The challenge is just a way to orient Greek organizations outward,” he said.Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
The FedEx Global Education Center was alive with discussion Thursday evening when experts gathered to debate and discuss the issue of illegal immigrants and their access to higher education in North Carolina.The Parr Center for Ethics sponsored the panel discussion, titled “Undocumented Immigrants in America: Access to Higher Education,” which brought together scholars with a variety of backgrounds to discuss issues surrounding immigration.The presence of experts with differing opinions was intended to make the discussion more ideologically representative.But one of the invited conservative panelists was unable to attend, and some students and experts said the discussion felt unbalanced.The panelists discussed a variety of issues, including the morality of denying illegal immigrants access to higher education, the challenges posed to school systems by a flood of non-native English speakers, the complexities of citizenship and the issues surrounding second-generation students with illegal immigrant parents.The panel was composed of six members:n?Paul Cuadros, assistant professor of journalism at UNC;n?Hannah Gill, assistant director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at UNC; n?Noah Pickus, director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University; n?Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC; n?Ron Woodard, director of the nonprofit group N.C. Listen; n Ron Bilbao, senior undergraduate student and founder of the Coalition for College Access. Deborah Weissman, director of clinical programs at the UNC School of Law, moderated the discussion.Woodard, the most conservative voice in the discussion, said he felt alone in his viewpoints.“I feel like I’m one against six,” he said.Caudros, who also authored the summer reading book, “A Home on the Field” — which tells the story of his experience coaching a high school soccer team of immigrants — said he believed the discussion went well but would have benefited from the presence of an additional conservative voice. Junior international studies and political science major Natasha Prados said she also thought the panel could have used a better ideological balance.“It would have been nice to see more equal representation of viewpoints,” she said. But Prados said participants made a noticeable effort not to dominate or attack the singular conservative panelist and maintained a respectful discussion.“Everybody was looking to promote discussion, not to sling arrows.”Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.