A defense of UNC

Brian, compelling article. But we’re not Colorado, and while it tries to compare the quality of education here versus there, I don’t think you can. North Carolina’s public universities are the envy of the nation. UNC is ranked number one time and time again. The only school that rivals us is UVA, but I thought competition was a good thing, right? You don’t just want to be an unopposed number one every year…

And by low, I mean not charging unnecessary fees such as the $50 athletic fee that will go to renovate Carmichael gym.

I think this is an appeal to a value judgment, because there are reasoned arguments both ways. I, for one, have been to many sold out women’s games in Carmichael (I’m too young to remember any of the mens’ days), and it’s one of the most intense basketball environments I’ve ever been in. It even rivals the Mens ACC Tournament. And from a historical standpoint, Carmichael means something special to this university. We had a damn near 90% winning percentage there. It’s where we staged one of the greatest comebacks in college basketball history: 8 points in 17 seconds–and get this: the three point shot hadn’t been added to the sport yet.

$50 seems a small price to pay to preserve this gem of a gym (hahaha–I just couldn’t help myself). Even if only for its historical value…

Furthermore, being a welfare university means not burdening students when you waste money on so many things–a Sexuality Studies department, black cultural center, construction of buildings that undergraduates will never step in, and an ever growing legion of administrators.

First of all, welfare university sounds harsh. There are a lot of things the government does that rubs me the wrong way, investing in education–especially higher education–isn’t one of them.

And I don’t know that sexuality studies necessarily deserves as much chagrin as you often give it. I don’t think sexuality studies is going to overtake the history or political science departments in size or scope anytime soon, and a diversity of opinions and ideas–isn’t that what Mill was talking about with his marketplace of ideas? Shouldn’t we let the weight of these studies dictate the importance we give them? The easy thing to do is ignore them, the harder thing to do is seek out its proper place among the “more academic” departments.

Hard to argue with the black cultural center thing. In a perfect world, you don’t need black cultural centers because race has no meaning–you’d just be differentiating and even positive stereotypes/separating is harmful on some levels. But perhaps we need black cultural centers as a step along the long hard road to the place we all want to go, a place where race has no significance.

The growing legion of administrators is a good point. The article you mentioned made us look like greedy bastards. And the whole raising chancellors pay and stuff to be more competitive really is an aggrandized “keeping up with the Joneses.” I don’t know what the answer is, because I learned in economics that salaries are something sticky in an economy–it’s really hard to cut them across the board without serious negative consequences. Which is ironic, because they were increased to avoid “serious negative consequences” according to that article. Oh life…

However, if UNC wishes to privatize, go ahead. We need less institutions on the public dime. But until that happens, ever increasing tuition and fees are just another pot of funds for administrators to waste.

What’s wrong with wanting to be a public university that rivals the prestige of a private institution? Obviously, we can’t all go to Harvard. If only because we all can’t all go to prep schools like Exeter and the like. But what we can do, as concerned citizens, is invest in our public institutions–and if we use private models as our basis in creating public institutions, I’m still failing to see the problem.

If America is really to be a land of opportunity, then education has to be “the last great equalizer.” Public instiutions need to be places where it doesn’t matter how much money is in your bank account, who your parents were, or any of that other nonsense. What should matter most is your capability; it should be like a meritocracy. And in my short experience here, I’ve drawn one conclusion. I go to school with 16,000 amazing individuals. And I know that not all of them could go here without the “public dime,” and I know that while a lot of them are smart enough, a lot of them couldn’t have gone to those private schools because of fiscal limitations as well.

But what’s my real conclusion? Conversations like this are healthy. There are no right answers because nothing is perfect, no matter how hard we try. But discussions like this help find the middle ground that everyone can be happy with, and in extreme cases, at least tolerate. The only problem is that we can hem and haw all day long on this here blog, but does it really make a difference? Freedom of speech only matters if you have someplace powerful from which to speak.

3 thoughts on “A defense of UNC

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