Archive for March, 2007

The bell still rings

I can count on one hand how many headaches I have had in my entire life. Seriously. The other day I had one, though–literally the first one since coming to college–and I was incapacitated because it was a feeling I just wasn’t used to.

I say that to say this: there are some things that some people never experience and some of us find that really hard to believe. For example, I told one of my friends last spring that I was playing piano in a memorial service to which they replied that they had never attended a memorial service or a funeral for that matter. What?

No, really, it’s possible. Both of their grandparents had already passed away and they did not live close to or know any of their distant relatives. My friend said he had just never had anyone close to him die.

I remember at the time thinking how lucky he was. But now, looking back at my goodbyes, I’m not so sure. There is something about death and all the emotions that come with it that make you a better person. The finality of it will never leave you. There is something about burying close relatives, friends, and even parents that make you embrace each day as a precious gift.

As I was walking to class this past Monday, the day after the Georgetown loss and as Jason Ray’s life hung in the balance, I was struck by the somberness of campus. As I was walking back down to South Campus that evening I heard the Bell Tower ring twice and I said to those with me, “Well, it’s still ringing. I guess life really does go on.”

It has been, and will continue to be, a tough week for the Tar Heel community. The basketball loss was devastating yet Jason’s death put things into perspective. In Jason’s death, whether we knew him personally or not, we lost a member of our extended family who happened to dress us as the mascot and symbol of our great school. This makes the loss that much closer to home.

And this is why I think that death and losing those that you love can only make you stronger — if you let it. I used to think I envied my friend who had never lost someone, never watched someone suffer, never had to make a decision in a hospital room and never had the chance to say goodbye or I love you to that person just one more time. Those experiences make you a better person. They make you realize that life is just a fleeting moment and an unbelievable risk.

Life isn’t fair — we all learned that as Jason walked on that New Jersey road last Friday. And, even just a few days before, John Edwards and his wife stood at the Carolina Inn and announced that her cancer had returned and it is incurable. You look her also and think, “Wow, that’s not fair.”

Nevertheless, Jason’s death can be a positive experience in your life. If you let it. Never take anything for granted. Tell those around you that you love them. And above all, make your life count.

Just like Jason did.

By Tabitha Messick

“I want to be a hippie,” said freshman Harrison Jobe last Saturday.

Jobe, a member of the ATO fraternity and a long time staunch conservative, once spoke of the hippie lifestyle with the utmost condemnation. Whether his perception-altering college experiences or simply the gorgeous spring weather are to blame, Jobe, like many students at the University, has started to recognize the great appeal of hippie culture.

But how does one go about becoming a hippie? Can such a thing be done? Can someone not born into the hippie mold transform him or herself to fit it?

Absolutely. The University and surrounding towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro are some of the most hippie-friendly places in North Carolina. So if you want to grow your hair long and eat tofu but you are unsure how to begin this transformation, look no further. I have created a step by step guide to facilitate your transition to freedom.

Start simple: stay outside. By spending more time in the great outdoors, you will connect with the earth as well as other hippies. Eat outside. Study outside. Even sleep outside. Get dirt under your fingernails and leave it there.

Listen to live bluegrass music. Go to Milltown Restaurant in Carrboro every Saturday for overpriced brunch and excellent music. You’ll see a group of hippie girls drinking coffee (because they cannot afford to actually eat) and dancing with homeless men there.

When you do have money to spend (which, being a hippie, should be quite rare) eat and shop at Weaver Street Market. Located in the heart of downtown Carrboro, Weaver Street has all the supplies you need to complete your hippie lifestyle. The people there are great too. Wear a Bush-bashing T-shirt and count the number of compliments you receive.

Speaking of bashing the President, take Greg Gangi’s Environment and Society Class. This class will free you from your previous ignorance — you will stop driving your car and stop buying clothes from the mall (as you must, to be a true hippie, anyway). You will discover that advertising is the most corrupt, manipulative force on earth, and that materialism will be the direct cause of Armageddon.

Don’t lose all faith in the world yet, though. Connect with your spiritual side through dance. Once again, journey to Carrboro to take a hoop dancing class with Julia Hartsell at Triangle Yoga.

At this point in your transition to hippie life, you should be ready to experience contra dancing at the Carrboro Community Arts Center. This square-dance style group dancing features Carrboro’s finest—kick off your shoes, put on a long skirt (guys, too) and spin the night away.

And now you are a hippie! Go spread peace and love throughout the world!

By Mary Lide Parker

Mansions for the poor

On Thursday, a Japanese Realtor gave a few of his million dollar mansions to three homeless families in Hawaii.

We often think, and dream, of Hawaii as a Pacific island wonderland. The media has conditioned us to perceive Hawaii to be paradise.

As usual, everything, especially in the media, is not as it seems. In Hawaii, the natives only make up about 22 percent of the population (a percentage that has been steadily decreasing). The majority groups are the Asians and whites who possess most of the state’s wealth. Billionaires, such as Genshiro Kawamoto, have attained their wealth living in Hawaii and it should be expected that they would give back to the natives.

Kawamoto has not been a popular figure because of many controversies surrounding his interaction with his tenants on the island. In order to re-sell his properties, he has been known to evict hundreds of tenants, giving them only 30 days to find somewhere else to live. In order to regain his social stamp of approval, Kawamoto has decided to hand over the keys to eight of his 22 (yes, he has 22!) mansions to needy families in Hawaii, an island with a considerably high poverty rate. He chose the families from the letters sent in by 3,000 needy families.

Some believe Kawamoto’s actions were not fueled by compassion, but by greed. Neighbors in the prestigious community where the mansions are located believe a ‘conniving Kawamoto’ is at it again. They suspect that he is attempting to bring the property level down in their neighborhood so that he can buy even more homes in the area.

I, too, find it hard to believe that Kawamoto is strictly acting out of the goodness of his heart. His charity work could have definitely been put to use in more productive ways. To be honest, I don’t think helping eight families is enough for an individual like Kawamoto.

Usually, providing eight homeless families with a place to live would seem like a benevolent act. But, is placing a once-homeless family in a $5 million house helping the plight of the thousands of other homeless natives? A homeless shelter built with the same square footage as one of these mansions could get at least 10 families off of the streets. Kawamoto has not only pledged to allow the families to live in the houses rent-free, but is also giving each family $1000. I find it absurd that millions of dollars are going to eight families when the same amount of money could be helping thousands.

By Brittany Houston

For the second time this year, I’m disappointed with the UNC student body. After weeks of constant flyers, Facebook notices, and e-mails, I was sure the March 20th Walk-out to protest the War in Iraq would be huge.

It was not.

To be fair, the protest was bigger and more dramatic than most held in the Pit. Only 30 people participated in a similar protest held in October. But how does a school with over 20,000 students produce a protest with a mere 50 people?

“It’s disgusting that there were more people here for the Pit Breakup,” said sophomore Jenny Elander.

Yeah, about a thousand more people. “I thought it would be a lot bigger but pretty much everyone has class at that time I guess,” said freshman Caroline Tedder.

But that was the whole point — for students to walk out of class to demonstrate their discontent.

I hear people openly complaining about the war every other day but when it comes to actually protesting it, most students turn quiet. Or they simply turn away.

“I’m against the war but I just don’t think protesting does anything,” said sophomore Seth Barden. “It’s not going to change what the Bush administration does.”

From bumper stickers to magazines to classrooms, Americans everywhere are voicing their condemnation of the war — why can’t more UNC students do the same?

I realize I cannot criticize our student body too harshly. After all, there are many colleges in the U.S. that would not even host such a protest. And 50 protesters are certainly better than none. But still, I think a student body as large and active as ours could have made a much more impressive showing.

Our school has a reputation of being one of the most progressive and politically active public universities in the country. I hope that our current student body will continue to uphold that image.

By Mary Lide Parker

Advice From An “Almost Senior”

Seniority. I guess I’m about to have it in a few months. And though being a Carolina senior will have perks (two words: Dook game), I honestly do not want to think about graduation and leaving Tar Heel “blue heaven.”

So as I contemplate my rising status, I want to give advice to all the underclassman and (even better) incoming freshman from an “almost senior” about things you have to do and be a part of before you find yourself with just one more year left.

  • Get involved from day one.
  • Volunteer.
  • Join a club.
  • Go to the gym.
  • Call your grandma.
  • Write some letters and send them by (gasp!) snail mail.
  • Try to actually read assignments before class.
  • Think ahead. Pull an all-nighter (or ten).
  • Take a fun class.
  • Go home with your roommate (especially if they live somewhere cool).
  • Get an internship over the summer.
  • Live on campus as long as you can stand it because I promise you will miss the “Carolina bubble.”
  • Go somewhere for spring break. Don’t think you can survive by not going to class.
  • Save some DTHs so you can look back on them in a few years.
  • Go to an event that you see advertised on a bathroom wall.
  • Get rid of your dumb high school AIM screen name. Hotbabe101 is not cool anymore.
  • Read on a sunny day in the quad.
  • VOTE.
  • Study abroad.
  • Take advantage of being close to North Carolina’s capital city of Raleigh, no matter what political ideology you are.
  • Take advantage of Franklin Street! Check the exam schedule on the Registrar website before you sign up for classes.
  • Order Channelo’s pizza at 2 a.m.
  • Have a resume ready to go at the drop of a hat.
  • Take some time to give blood and platelets.
  • Get over the parking situation on campus.
  • Appeal any parking ticket you get because it’s worth a shot.
  • Go to more Olympic sports games. And if you are so inclined, go to church.
  • Go to office hours and get to know your professors.
  • Don’t lose touch with your friends from home.
  • Take lots and lots of pictures.

And finally, take this great quote by Reynolds Price to heart.

“This will almost certainly be the last time in your life when other people bear the expense of warding you four years of financially unburdened time. If you use the years primarily for mastering the skills of social life – as though those skills shouldn’t already have been acquired by the end of middle school- or if you use these years for testing the degree to which your vulnerable brain and body can bear the strains of the alcoholism with which a number of students depart campus, or the sexual excess that can seem so rewarding (to name only two of the lurking maelstroms), then you may ultimately leave this vast table of nutriment as the one more prematurely burnt-out case.”

And last but not least, of course, love Carolina basketball. Your most talked-about memories will come from Franklin Street celebrations.

– Tabitha Messick

Aunt Ampersand

Dear Aunt Ampersand,

I’m in trouble. I think Tyl– some huge guy with big muscles wants to kill me. I mean, I didn’t mean to break his nose. I just wanted to hit him a little. You know, to foul him. Now the whole world hates me and I’m all over Facebook and people are telling me not to sleep or I’ll get killed and I just don’t know what to do! How do I tell the world I’m innocent? Most importantly, how do I avoid getting murdered when I finally fall asleep? Please help!


Dear Klutzy-Not-Deliberate-Fouler,
You’re right, the world does hate you. Well, a large percentage of it does anyway! Look on the bright side: you’re a Facebook celebrity now!

This reminds me of a story. Back in the day, Aunt Ampersand used to be quite the foxy lady! There was this guy, Bobby Thomas, and we were Rimelfield Covington High School’s cutest couple three years in a row. We were the perfect couple—he was the star of the football team and, of course, all the girls wanted him. And I was kind of a “big deal.” Senior year was supposed to be the best year of our lives until she arrived.

Her name was Francine, but I’ll just call her NewNew. NewNew came to RCHS, and all the guys became crazy over her…even Bobby. Yes, my Bobby. Now I, the it girl, could not just sit around and watch some new girl steal my title and my Bobby. So, one day the cheerleaders were having a bake sale, and I baked up something extra special for Miss NewNew (I accidentally popped some laxatives in there instead of chocolate chips). I took the brownies to NewNew’s first period class and sat them on her desk with a card from her “secret admirer.” She must have thought those brownies were from Bobby — boy, was she surprised! So surprised that she ate three of them!

Due to my special ingredients, she didn’t make it ten minutes into Ms. Gramble’s class. She got up and ran for the door, but, unfortunately, she had on white pants that day. I could hear Ms Gramble’s history class laughing from the hallway where I stood. Seeing her run out of the class made my day…well, I thought it did. After the fact I felt bad.

Somehow (due to some gossiping nobody) NewNew and the whole senior class found out I was the chef who cooked up the special brownies. Everybody hated me—even Bobby.I apologized, and it didn’t seem to help. To this day I still feel bad for hurting NewNew. She and Bobby ended up being RCHS’s cutest couple of 1982.

What I’m saying is that sometimes we let our jealousy control our better judgment. There is always going to be someone who is more intelligent, more attractive, or more athletic than we are. You can’t always win, and when you don’t, you can’t act like a 2-year-old. You should sincerely apologize and move on with your life, even if other people don’t.

As for fearing for your life, Mr. Klutzy-Not-Deliberate-Fouler, you may want to “lay low,” as they say. By the looks of those Facebook groups, there are a lot of people running around in Carolina Blue who would love to kill you.

Yours truly,
Aunt Ampersand

By Brittany Houston

Your “Face” is Like an Open “Book”

I’m not anti-Facebook in any stretch of the imagination. I’m right there with every other student joining all the “It’s Mr. Tyler Hansbrough to you, Gerald Henderson” groups.

However I am someone who was presented with my Facebook profile when I interviewed for an internship last summer. Since then I have been amazed to see how college students seem to be so shortsighted. Facebook could potentially affect your job search! It is estimated that more than 90 percent of Carolina undergrads use Facebook, according to a study by Fred Stutzman, a Ph.D. student researching social networking at UNC-CH.

I have fun “poking” people and “untagging” horrendous pictures of myself. And if I was completely honest I’d admit that I actually enjoy the mini-news feed (though I was shocked when it came on the scene last year). And though I do not try to understand how people can stay on it for hours at a time, I sometimes find myself looking at the clock thinking, “Where did that past hour go?” Yet a telling statistic of this phenomenon is according to Marcia Harris, director of University Career Services, independent research has found that 15 percent of employers are now using or plan to use Facebook, MySpace or Google to look at potential employees.

Whether you think this is fair is irrelevant, the fact remains that employers do and will look up potential candidates in their job search. Employers want to minimize the risk of the employee they hire and that is why they seek additional info. And this means implications now for college students to safeguard their public image.

There are positive and negative aspects with Facebook, as with any technology. Countless articles have been written about Facebook and the implications of academic success, social development, privacy and safety; but the fact remains that more students need to be aware of all the information that we post is public and that employers are now judging students by more than just their resume.

When we sit in front of our computers, we somehow feel protected. Though it might seem private, Facebook is a public forum. It claims ownership to the content on its site. So just remember that what you post on each others’ walls (even if you delete it), the pictures you put up, the amount of pictures you put up, the groups you join and the information you share – all of these things matter to an employer.

Of course employers certainly know that students are just college kids (they were college kids once themselves) but they still question students’ judgment in allowing this information to be viewed publicly. Employers could potentially view this content as immature and unprofessional.

No, Facebook is not bad nor is it wrong. No, you should not delete all your online profiles. Facebook is actually very useful and a great communication tool.

But students need to be cautious and look at their Facebook profile from an outside perspective. Is this something you would want your grandmother, your parents or your pastor to see? If not, students should consider taking it off their Facebook page. A lot of people during their college years, parents included, do things that they do not want certain people to know about. But with the influx of the new information age, this information is readily available and not regulated so anyone and everyone can have access to it.

Facebook works sort of like a time capsule and you can’t get rid of digital history. Potential employers are out there. And just because Facebook has new privacy policies–that does not mean that other people with access to Facebook can not re-distribute your information elsewhere on the Internet.

– Tabitha Messick

Overheard in the Pit

The random conversations of passers-by in UNC’s infamous campus Pit.

Girl (on cell phone): If we won the lottery, we could have his and hers. (pauses) Dude! We could even have prostitutes!

Guy 1: Do you think Jesus was a real person?

Guy 2: It’s not clear. In the Christian religion, he is real and he was Jewish guy.
Guy 1
: When did he convert?
Guy 2: (exasperated) He didn’t.
Guy 1: Did Jesus have kids?
Guy 2: I don’t know.
Guy 1: Was everyone Jewish before Jesus?
Guy 2: Yes.
Guy 1: Indians, blacks, everybody?
Guy 2: No! Not everybody in the world. Just a lot of people around Jesus.

Girl 1: He’s like this weird passive aggressive father from the 1950’s. Know what I mean? He started acting really strangely toward me. Trying to tell me what I need to do with my life and shit.
Girl 2: Yeah. He always has all this evidence for why he’s better. He’s so insecure.
Girl 1: I feel so sorry for him. I hate him. I hate everybody.

Girl 1: We should go to Paris.
Girl 2: Yeah, right. I can’t afford to go to Paris.
Girl 1: Um … duh. But if you saved you could.
Girl 2: Nuh uh … I’m going to be paying my parents back for a long time.
Girl 1: Well, maybe if you quit that smoking habit of yours you could save up and we could go to Paris.
Girl 2: I’ll quit smoking when I have babies.
Girl 1: Well, then we could Jamaica.
Girl 2: Um, no. I want to go to somewhere where they speak English. I want to relax on my vacation not worry about my accent.
Girl 1: Uhh … they speak English in Jamaica. Haven’t you seen the Jamaican bobsledding movie?
(Long pause)
Girl 1: What about Aruba?
Girl 2: Too much crime.
Girl 1: There isn’t a lot of crime, just that one thing. That’s like saying there’s a lot of terrorism here.
Girl 2: It was not terrorism!

– Allison Rose

An Inconvenient Lecture

As an ardent environmentalist, I try to educate myself as much as possible on issues related to global warming. Traveling to Raleigh to hear Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The New Yorker‘s three-part series “The Climate of Man,” speak, however, turned out to be more inconvenient than informative.

Kolbert’s lecture kicked off N.C. State’s week-long symposium entitled “The Rolf Buchdahl Lecture on Science, Technology, and Values.” While I have never felt the desire to visit the N.C. State campus, I banded together with fellow UNC environmentalists to hear what was sure to be an enlightening presentation on global warming.

I could not have been more disappointed.

Kolbert — no relation to Stephen Colbert since they spell their names differently — began her talk candidly: “I don’t believe I need to convince anyone here that global warming exists or that it is a real and present danger.”

This statement turned out to be the most optimistic one she made all night. For the next hour and a half, I listened to an array of daunting numbers and figures related to the rapid climate change of our planet. While Kolbert’s facts are indeed crucial evidence to the damaging effects of global warming, I and much of the audience had heard them all before — in Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

From records of the isotopic composition of ice, to the increase in CO2 levels, to the phenomenon of melting permafrost and drunken forests in the Arctic, all of Kolbert’s major points were the exact same as those made in Gore’s film. She even showed the same graphs and pictures.

One of my UNC comrades, freshman Bryce Koukopoulos, held similar sentiments. “I don’t feel like I learned anything new,” she said. “It just reinforced everything they said in ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’”

Kolbert’s nihilistic comments were the only original components of her talk. “Even if we maintain our current greenhouse gas emissions, the earth will continue to heat up,” she said. “So if we continue to increase our emissions each year, the earth will just heat up that much faster.”

Throughout her speech, Kolbert specifically addressed the students of the audience. In her apocalyptic tone, she informed us that our future is bleak, to say the least. “We are headed toward a different planet,” she said. “Once global warming gets going, it is extremely difficult to stop.”

Kolbert ended her fatalistic address on perhaps the most encouraging note of all, “There is no uncertainty that global warming is happening. The only uncertainty is whether or not we have a chance for survival.”

Thank you, Mrs. Kolbert. Now please excuse me while I go give up all hope.

– Mary Lide Parker