The Top 10 Nuttiest Campus Events in N.C. for 2003

Last year’s Top 10 list of the nuttiest campus events included a hope for “more of the same in 2003.” This hope has been fulfilled, and this column marks the occasion. So here’s to thee, 2003 — and we anticipate much more, 2004.

On to the list:

10. Watch what you say in the “Free Expression” Tunnel.
One night students painted offensive slogans in N.C. State’s famous “Free Expression Tunnel.” This was itself nothing new. What was new was the campus response. Chancellor Marye Anne Fox issued a statement on the “highly offensive, hurtful and disrespectful graffiti” where she announced, “The offensive graffiti has been removed, and I have asked our Campus Police to investigate this incident.”

9. Duke frat party and the need for “discipline.”
The Sigma Chi fraternity at Duke University held “Viva Mexico” party that incensed Hispanic activists, who called it a “hate crime.” Sigma Chi’s president, Marc Mattioli, who is himself Hispanic, apologized for giving offense and explained that the party was “designed to be a light-hearted celebration of the Mexican tourist scene.” The activists still demanded that Duke respond by creating programs in Ethnic Studies, Native American Studies and Asian American Studies and strengthen the Latino and Sexual Studies programs.

8. “University of the People” seeks a different set of people, part I.
For the second straight year, a bill before the state Senate (Senate Bill 987) would give illegal immigrants and other noncitizens access to in-state tuition rates at UNC.

7. Every month, a campus journalist wildly exaggerates rape statistics.
At Duke, “There are probably 200 to 250 undergraduate men on this campus who are rapists (one out of 15),” wrote Jillian Johnson in the Feb. 27 Chronicle. Emily Steel of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote in The Daily Tar Heel April 24 that “A woman is raped every two minutes. Almost one in every four women between the age of 18 and 24 is a survivor of sexual assault.” The Wellness Center at UNC-Greensboro told the Carolinian Sept. 5 that “one in four women is sexually assaulted in their college years.” Jason Eder of North Carolina State wrote in Technician Nov. 11 that “more than one out of every four college-aged women are victims of rape or attempted rape.” Meanwhile, back at Duke, Emily LaDue wrote in the Chronicle Nov. 19 that “By now, it is becoming more and more common knowledge that one in six women at Duke is raped before graduation.”

6. “University of the People” seeks a different set of people, part II.
UNC-CH seeks “relief from” the “the 18 percent cap on undergraduate out-of-state students.” According to the UNC-CH plan, the state’s current cap forces UNC-CH to “decline admission to thousands of exceedingly bright out-of-state applicants whose presence on campus would add to the geographic, intellectual, artistic, and cultural diversity of the student population, as well as offset the ‘brain drain’ of North Carolina talent to other states.”

5. A speaker who bombed.
Duke’s Dept. of African and African American Studies invited Laura Whitehorn to speak on campus, advertising her as “a revolutionary anti-imperialist who spent over 14 years in federal prison as a political prisoner.” Turns out her jailbird years owed to her conviction in 1985 for setting off a bomb in the U.S. Capitol. When many on campus called this terrorist a “terrorist,” Becky Thompson, the visiting professor in African and African American Studies at Duke who invited Whitehurst, defended her by saying, “Her work was actually the opposite of terrorism.” Whitehurst called herself a “pacifist,” because terrorism is “the targeting of civilians,” and as her bomb killed no one, she’s “never been involved in targeting civilians.”

4. Even The News & Observer calls him “czar.”
N.C. State hired José Picart as its “diversity czar”; that is, its new head of the hilariously named “Office of Diversity and African-American Affairs.” Picart wasted no time in announcing “we must put diversity into academics.” By that he meant “professors should integrate diversity into the classroom of every discipline, no matter how technical.”

3. UNCW prof has friends with terrorists and lawyers.
UNCW professor Lisa Pollard claims during a “teach-in” on the war in Iraq that she has friends in terrorist networks, but when student Michael Pomarico quotes her in a letter to the editor of the student newspaper, the Seahawk, Pollard threatens to sue the newspaper. The paper pulls both letters about the teach-in — the other didn’t even mention Pollard or her admission.

2. There are ways to show how tolerant we’ve become, but this ain’t one.
In February, Martha Lamb, UNC-CH professor of social work, told her graduate class about how much more tolerant and accepting her discipline has become since her days as a student. Unfortunately for her, she chose to illustrate this point with an example of the intolerance she used to encounter. In the 1960s, unlike today, she told her class, such expressions as the NAACP stands for “N—— Ain’t Acting Like Colored People” were commonplace. For this, Lamb was forced to resign.

1. “This year we’re going to grab the bull by the balls, and kick those punks off campus.”
UNC-Chapel Hill’s attempt to derecognize Christian student groups and especially UNCW’s success (so far) in derecognizing the College Republicans have a Dean Vernon Wormer-esque quality to them. While not quite as inventive as “double secret probation,” the UNC schools’ excuse for derecognition — that these student groups didn’t include the universities’ nondiscrimination policies in their group charters (which would have forbid the Christians and Republicans from turning away atheists and Democrats) — was certainly brazen. Especially because those student groups had been singled out for investigation in this manner. Apparently concerning campus conservatism and Christianity, our UNC schools decided the time had come for someone to put his foot down, and that foot was them. It’s likely they’ve put that foot in their mouth, so to speak; time (and probably the courts, too) will tell.