Newspaper Stand Symbolism

By: Staff Writer Will Rierson


Retrieved from Will Rierson

Outside of Carroll Hall stands a blue, padlocked New York Times dispenser. It has weathered years of service to the dwindling number of journalism school students who stop to pick a newspaper for class or pleasure. A tattered poster clings to the side of the dispenser and has been there longer than anyone can remember.

That poster is of President George W. Bush, addressing the nation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. You can faintly read a quote of his, promising to keep the country safe and urging Americans to stay strong in the face of terror. Perhaps some patriot placed it there during the wave of national pride in late 2001.

Now the poster is ripped and covered in pen marks scribbled by nameless mischiefs. The president’s face has been drawn on and his neck and the quote have been ripped by a key. The graffiti has been there for years, just outside of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism. The forlorn state of the poster shows the disgust for conservative political messages and tradition of vandalism at the heart of left-wing speech on campus.

Silent Sam, the university’s Confederate memorial that has been called a racist monument by some, was vandalized multiple times in the summer of 2015. One black activist student group proudly hung a noose and tied Sam’s eyes with a confederate flag, a mostly harmless protest. Then some vandals took it a step further and spray painted the statue twice with sayings associated with Black Lives Matter. No one was caught, but the school paid hundreds of dollars to remove the paint and install security cameras to watch over it.

Conservative messages sometimes do appear around school, though they don’t last long. A student who wishes to remain anonymous admitted to once hanging the Confederate 1861 NC Republic flag around Sam’s shoulders. It was gone the next day. Student For Life chalked positive pro-life messages on campus sidewalks in the fall semester of 2015, only to have them erased hours later by pro-choice activists who called them acts of violence.

The Bush poster goes unnoticed by most. It takes a keen, political eye to spot. Yet 7 years after Bush left office, UNC still holds a small protest against the conservative president. It’s doubtful that anyone would care if the poster was scraped off the newspaper dispenser, but an argument could be made for preserving it in the name of free speech. In the waning months of the Obama presidency, maybe the journalism school would welcome a defaced poster of the sitting president on the Wall Street Journal dispenser across the sidewalk.




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