Reflections on the University

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By Jackson Valentine

In a publication such as The Carolina Review, we tend to dig into some deep issues (many of them critical of our school). The reason higher public education was created in the first place was to open up an environment where intelligent people could get together and present ideas, and with those ideas, go on to help our state and nation progress. Because of that free exchange of ideas, we at the Review enjoy the right to criticize actions taken by administrators and faculty at UNC. It’s a right and duty we hold sacred. Sometimes, however, it can be nice to simply hold the criticism and appreciate the institution that we call our home. Once per year, we show that appreciation through University Day, the anniversary of our great institution’s founding.

Since 1877, we have celebrated University Day as the day that the first brick of the first building (Old East) was laid, signifying not only the beginning of what was to be the greatest public university in America, but also the beginning of higher public education in The United States. October 12, 1793 has indeed gone down in history as the beginning of dialogue, understanding, and the desire to be “scholarly” in what was at the time a very young country. Little did we know that one building for one student would grow into the academic and athletic powerhouse that Carolina is today.

University day has traditionally been graced with the presence of dignitaries from all across the country, including most North Carolina governors, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. This year the ceremony featured the director of undergraduate enrollment Steve Farmer as well as awards for outstanding alumni and faculty. University day has also traditionally been the inauguration of new chancellors, and Carol Folt was no exception. I can still remember sitting in the UNC Wind Ensemble in front of South Building looking out at the crowd, seeing baby blue and white all around and watching our newly inaugurated chancellor deliver her first speech to the school. It was in that moment that I knew, despite all the beef I had with this university, that it was a great school full of great people. I promptly returned to my dorm room and pinned an article for the November 2013 edition of The Carolina Review about why Chancellor Folt had an agenda writhed with liberalism in the name of “tolerance and diversity”. It is precisely that reason that I believe this school is great; UNC encouraged me to question why things are the way they are, and to wonder if they could be better.

So while I’m sure everyone enjoyed taking a day off from morning classes for the ceremony last Tuesday, I encourage you to take in the beauty of this place every single day and see it for what it is: the greatest public center of learning to have ever graced the face of the earth. So, tomorrow when you’re going about your daily activities, go by the Old Well, take a look at the cornerstone of Old East, go chill by Silent Sam… and know that you go to the greatest school in the world.

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