Bowles innagurated as president

GREENSBORO – Erskine Bowles was inaugurated Wednesday as the 16th president of the University of North Carolina. His official swearing-in was held at UNC-Greensboro, four months after he took the job on Jan. 1.

The festivities began with a faculty procession down Spring Garden Street led by the N.C. A&T State University marching band. Wake Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. administered the oath of office, and Crandall Bowles held a family Bible for her husband. About 1,500 people filled Aycock Auditorium to hear the former U.S. Senate candidate outline his plan for the 16-campus system.

Arizona Study Recommends Student-Grant System of Higher Education Funding

On March 14, the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona think tank that favors market-based solutions to public policy issues, released a study that education leaders and policy makers in North Carolina should read and consider. Entitled “Cash for College: Bringing Free-Market Reform to Higher Education,” (available here) the paper argues that Arizona’s higher education system would benefit from the adoption of a new policy that would grant higher education money directly to students rather than appropriating funds to public colleges and universities.

The author of the study, Dr. Vicki Murray, makes a strong case that “Giving grants directly to students would expand their educational options and would help make the delivery of higher education in Arizona more efficient.” Undoubtedly, those are goals worth pursuing.

Campus events should promote debate, not anger

On the afternoon of Friday, March 3, an act of terrorism at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill left the university community in disbelief. Why would a former student would ram an SUV into a group of students?

Mohammad Reza Taheri-azar, 22, an Iranian native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill last December, rented a Jeep Cherokee Laredo and launched his attack on a student assembly area known as “The Pit.” Nine people were injured in Taheri-azar’s rampage. He appeared in Orange County District Court on Monday where he was arraigned on 18 charges, including nine counts of attempted murder.

Given that Chapel Hill is a university that prides itself on its welcoming and inclusive environment for students, the question is why Taheri-azar would attempt to kill some of his former classmates. The Associated Press reported that Taheri-azar “allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims.” He also told a 911 dispatcher that “the reason is to punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world.” Comments he made to police detectives and court officials indicate that Taheri-azar thought he would become a hero in the radical Islam community for injuring and attempting to kill college students.

Panelists at UNC event tell students free-press fight crucial to freedom

CHAPEL HILL — Journalists need to defend their First Amendment Rights in order to protect them, or “there’s not going to be a torch to pass to the next generation.” That’s the assessment of one of North Carolina’s leading free press advocates.

“I hope people don’t look back years from now and say, ‘Those guys were surrounded, and they all went down,’” First Amendment lawyer John Bussian said during a free press forum in Chapel Hill on March 6. The event was organized by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Bussian compared today’s journalists to the defenders of the Alamo. The forum at the University of North Carolina was scheduled on the 170th anniversary of the last day of battle at that Texas fortress.

BOG considers projects

CHAPEL HILL — With three months before the 2006 General Assembly short session begins, the UNC Board of Governors is trying to decide which projects the system will submit to legislators for approval.

Recently, in a work session before the monthly board meeting, members received updates on several projects and their budgets. No decisions were made on the budget appropriations. That is expected to come in April at a board meeting in Greensboro before inauguration ceremonies for UNC’s new president, Erskine Bowles.

In all, seven funding proposals were discussed during the workshop. Some are seeking a change in budget appropriations that were approved during the budget negotiations last year.

John McWhorter Versus Affirmative Action

John McWhorter is one of the sharpest analysts of race relations in America. Born in Philadelphia in 1965 in a middle-class family, he earned a doctorate in linguistics and taught for several years at the University of California before accepting his current position as a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute. McWhorter rejects just about all of the “conventional wisdom” regarding race, especially the idea that the great obstacle to black progress is lingering racism.

When McWhorter engages a subject, he does so with relentless logic. I would bet that as a professor, he was known as one whom students couldn’t “BS.” In Winning the Race, his tenth book, McWhorter tackles a number of contentious issues revolving around the failure of many black Americans to advance and prosper despite ever-improving conditions in America. “It’s not that there is ‘something wrong with black people,’ but rather that there is something wrong with what black people learned from a new breed of white people in the 1960s,” he writes. That something is an attitude McWhorter calls “therapeutic alienation” – a preference for anger and scapegoating as opposed to the work needed for success.

UNC out of bounds with cartoon flap

It seems as though every time you turn around there is a situation at UNC-Chapel Hill involving the First Amendment. This week’s topic – a controversial cartoon printed by The Daily Tar Heel that depicted the Prophet Mohammad — led to an uproar. University officials and the UNC-Chapel Hill Muslim Student Association said that the paper was “insensitive” to publish the cartoon.

The cartoon showed Mohammad between a window through which Danish flags could be seen and another window depicting a terrorist attack, and saying “They may get me from my bad side … but they show me from my worst.” The author meant to make the point that Islam has the bad features of intolerance and violence. The Muslim Student Association stated that the cartoon offended members of the Muslim community on campus. UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Jablonski said the cartoon was “hurtful” and Chancellor James Moeser said the paper should apologize.

Has the DTH really done something bad here?

Controversy surrounds DTH cartoon

CHAPEL HILL – For the second time this school year, The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, is in the middle of a firestorm over content in its publication. This time the criticism comes from UNC-Chapel Hill administrators.

On Thursday, the student newspaper published a controversial cartoon of Muhammad – the founder of the Islam – showing him in between two windows. In the first window – one showing Danish flags – Muhammad is quoted as saying “They may get me from my bad side.” The second window – which shows a scene following a terrorist incident – he says “… but they show me from my worst.” Philip McFee, an UNC-Chapel Hill student, drew the cartoon.

Gasper out at Halifax CC

WELDON — Halifax Community College President Ted Gasper was fired Friday following allegations of impropriety including using college resources on political efforts, especially those of former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance of North Carolina.

Gasper had been placed on administrative leave since September while an investigative committee looked into the political allegations as well as other allegations that dealt with the way he ran the college. His personal secretary, Faye Pepper, was also placed on leave while the investigation was ongoing.

UNC Should Pay Closer Attention to the First Amendment

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote in the landmark case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.” His words were a ringing affirmation of the freedoms of conscience and expression that are central to American liberty.

Unfortunately, however, the notion that the government may not dictate what people may express or believe about controversial subjects has remained hotly contested. Those in power inevitably find it convenient to restrict expression or even dictate matters of conscience in order to ensure a more “just,” “fair,” or “orderly” society or organization.

Today, rules and regulations that restrict expression or dictate matters of conscience are often found at college or university campuses—including at the 16 schools that comprise the University of North Carolina System. As public institutions—agencies of the State of North Carolina—the universities in the UNC System are legally bound to uphold the First Amendment rights of their students and faculty. Unfortunately, they are failing miserably.