Tar Heels Turn it Green With Inefficient Solar Power Program

Morrison Residence Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill was closed in the spring of 2005 for renovation. When it reopens in the fall of 2007, not only will students’ accommodations be nicer, but solar panels will be used to heat the building’s water.

While many campus activists and administrators are excited about the project, the solar heating system is financially inefficient.

The new Morrison Hall will have about 200 solar panels placed on the roof and their energy will heat about 60 percent of the building’s hot water. From that, a saving of $11,275 annually is projected.

The solar hot water system is funded by a $137,455 grant from the state legislature, $184,000 from student fees, and $125,000 from University housing and residential education funds. The project was originally anticipated to cost $309,000, but estimates are now as high as $446,000.

Dialogue sought on higher education

RALEIGH — The U.S. Department of Education has appointed a commission that will engage in what U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings termed a “national dialogue” about the role of higher education in the 21st century. The 18-member Commission on the Future of Higher Education, including professors, university presidents, business leaders and government officials, will release a report next year.

Spellings said she hopes the commission will not only find ways to improve higher education but also ways for higher education to meet the needs of an increasingly global economy. The commission is expected to release its recommendations to the public in August.

Filmmaker points to bias in higher education

Evan Coyne Maloney experienced academic biases in higher education first hand as a student at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. At the time, he thought the bias problem might be limited just to Bucknell.

That was until he read Illiberal Education by Dinesh D’Souza and heard about how students at other colleges faced similar situations of academic bias in the classroom. Now, 11 years after Maloney graduated from Bucknell, he is educating others on the problem of academic bias through a series of video documentaries that have received critical acclaim.

Maloney’s video documentary series on higher education is entitled “Brainwashing.” There have been two installments “Brainwashing 101,” and “Brainwashing 201: The Second Semester.” “Brainwashing 201” recently won Best Short Film at the Liberty Film Festival in October.

Racial Preferences – The Issue that Won’t Go Away

Consider, if you will, the virtue of simple rules. The First Amendment to the Constitution is a simple rule. It says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Although the government hasn’t always followed it, having a sharp constitutional line has undoubtedly spared the country a great deal of meddling with free speech. With a simple rule, violations are readily apparent.

Now imagine that the First Amendment instead went like this: “Congress shouldn’t enact laws that abridge the freedom of speech unless it thinks that there is a pretty good reason to do so.” If the Founders had given us so vague and equivocal a rule, there would probably be much less freedom to speak without fear of legal repercussions today.

College students, beware the Facebook Police

H.L. Mencken once wrote of Puritans that they had the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere is happy.” If Mencken were around today, he’d probably want to include college administrators and their haunted Internet jaunts.

The kernel of Mencken’s criticism is an unhealthy obsession with someone else’s private conduct – sex and beer, for example. University bureaucrats have been snooping through students’ personal Internet pages looking for evidence of un-Puritanical behavior, as well as that hobgoblin “hate speech,” of course.

Earlier this month, the North Carolina State University bureaucracy was in high dudgeon over “FACEBOOK VIOLATIONS” and held a rush “town hall meeting to discuss recent alcohol violations found on The Facebook. Testimonies from the students involved and presentations from key administrators will begin the meeting.” It seems that an overzealous Resident Advisor went poking through her residents’ photos on the “Facebook” online looking for violations of the alcohol policy (and goodness knows what else), then squealed to the authorities with her findings.

The Facebook is a private, online community specifically geared for college students. Through it, they post information about themselves, link to their friends’ Facebook pages, meet and greet friends’ friends and others online, join groups of like-minded peers worldwide, and so forth. They can also post photos.

Facebook is an innovating an exciting way to connect with other people. It’s wildly popular among students. And it’s apparently an irresistible tool to be abused by the campus neo-Puritans, the Facebook Police and their student stoolies.

NCSU’s student newspaper, Technician, reported on the “Facebook Violations” meeting. One “Paul Cousins from the Office of Student Conduct” was particularly incensed. According to Technician, Cousins “began by outlining his perception of the issues at hand, [which] dealt with the issue of alcohol, having photos taken as evidence and personal grievances felt by some of the students involved.” In his words: “Either you drank or you didn’t, it’s pretty damn simple.”

He then “recommended the students take responsibility and admit either guilt or innocence when faced with their interviews,” warning students, “We’ve been using photos for years — evidence is evidence” and “I can access your unity account under the right circumstances.”

NCSU is usually not the first mover in academic Orwellianism, and it isn’t so now. At UNC-Greensboro, according to columnist Luke McIntyre of the UNCG student newspaper, the Carolinian, “Recently in Cone Hall a resident was charged with drinking in the dorm [after] the resident in question took pictures of herself drinking and posted them online, conveniently linked to her Facebook account. From there her Community Advisor (UNCG’s phrase for RA) saw them and she was written up.”

Students in Kentucky and elsewhere have been brought up before student courts for the crime of Drinking in Facebook Photographs. The coordinator of student conduct at Missouri University told the Columbia Missourian, “Any time I discover that a student is violating the code of conduct, I will send a letter and have them meet with me for that violation.” Those are, however, small potatoes to the Facebook Police nationwide. Consider:

• Fisher College in Boston expelled sophomore Cameron Walker for his Facebook comments about a campus police officer. Walker wrote that the officer “loves to antagonize students … and needs to be eliminated” and tried to get student interest in a petition against the officer or try to “set him up.”

• A judicial affairs panel at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn., found sophomore Ryan Miner guilty of “‘sexual orientation’ harassment” for comments he wrote on his Facebook page. Miner was objecting to a gay-straight student alliance at the Catholic College, and referred to homosexuality as “subhuman.”

• Three University of Mississippi students were brought up on student judicial charges for joining a Facebook group based on their desire to have sex with a particular professor.

Like Mencken’s Puritans, apparently it has never occurred to the Facebook Police that students might not be entirely serious with everything they post. Even when they are, is it worth all the anguish? At NCSU’s town hall meeting, per Technician, Cousins “repeatedly referenced postings on The Wolf Web [another private student forum online] as disturbing him more than any other aspect of the case.”

“One user posted that the resident adviser should be crucified and burned at the stake,” Technician reported. “[Cousins] said this is going under investigation, and he intends to find the student who posted the threats.” (Raleigh readers, be on the lookout for suspicious person or persons carrying around six-foot-tall cruciforms, yardarms or railroad ties, and rope and torches.)

Don’t try to imagine the kind of personality who scours students’ personal web pages for niggling “offenses.” It’s creepy. But it’s to be expected of the “socialist microstates” that academic leftists have made of their campuses.

That observation is Darío Fernandez-Moréra’s, from his book American Academia and the Survival of Marxist Ideas. Fernandez-Moréra cited admission preferences, students’ socialized medical care, public housing and student meal tickets as examples in favor of his proposition. The haunted diary-readers in the ivory towers today certainly offer nothing to disprove it.

Recent Court Decision Undermines Rights of Student Journalists

Throughout their history, college newspapers have mostly enjoyed the same rights under the First Amendment as have other newspapers. A recent decision by a federal appellate court, however, jeopardizes their freedom.

Here are the facts.

In 2000, Margaret Hosty was the editor of The Innovator, the student newspaper of Governors State University (GSU), located just west of Chicago. Like many student newspapers, The Innovator was supported mainly by student fees. That fall, Patricia Carter, the university’s Dean of Student Affairs, told the company that printed the paper that in the future, school officials would review each issue before it could be printed. She took this action despite written GSU policy stating that the student staff of the paper would “determine content and format of their publications without censorship or advance approval.”

Will UNC Ever Be “Diverse” Enough?

Last April, UNC released its “Chancellor’s Task Force on Diversity” report, 58 pages in length and loaded with eight big recommendations for making the Chapel Hill campus more diverse. And in his State of the University speech, Chancellor Moeser devoted several paragraphs to this subject, saying that “Diversity is a key component of our academic plan,” and lauding “improvement in the diversity of our full-time permanent faculty.”

Alas, UNC is not yet diverse enough. The Task Force report recommends, for example, that the university increase the number of “minorities” in executive, administrative and managerial positions. That might be accomplished through a heavier emphasis on “diversity” in hiring and promotion.

Auditor calls for CCs to tighten control

RALEIGH — In the wake of an audit investigation of Halifax Community College, State Auditor Les Merritt is recommending the community college system have better monitoring of employment contracts, by-laws, and local boards, and improved training programs for trustees and business office personnel.

The recommendations were released Tuesday in a management letter to State Board of Community Colleges Chair Hilda Pinnix-Ragland. It was also released on the same day as an audit investigation of Halifax Community College President Ted Gasper’s activities found several violations, including questionable reimbursements and the president’s contracts being approved with the board not being aware of some amendments.

Advice for Erskine Bowles: Ratchet Up and Ratchet Down

The UNC presidential search committee has done its work and the new president of the UNC system will be Erskine Bowles. Although the North Carolina Press Association has said that it may challenge the legality of the selection process under the Open Meetings Act, no one doubts that Mr. Bowles will succeed Molly Broad in this important position.

An accomplished, multi-talented man, Mr. Bowles will take the UNC helm with this notable advantage — he isn’t an education “insider.” People who have been immersed in higher education administration for most if not all of their careers tend to uncritically accept most of the “conventional wisdom” about how our colleges and universities supposedly need to function. That fact produces tunnel vision much like a horse with blinders. Bowles doesn’t appear to be wearing them.