By Bryson Scott Piscitelli, Editor-in-Chief
This article was originally featured in our November 2020 magazine, (p.3) released 30 November 2020, which you can view here.
The explosion of interest in Carolina Review proves that far more UNC students are disillusioned with wokeness than anyone thought.
You go to UNC? They must not like you there! I, like most writers for this publication, have heard these words from countless friends and family since being accepted to study at Carolina. And who can blame them? They’re right. Unless you’ve been living with wax in your ears, you’ve heard that Chapel Hill is liberal. Very liberal. In fact, the only thing stopping it from the title of most left-leaning town in the state is our neighbors in the People’s Republic of Carrboro, or Durham a few miles over.
In the past six months, though, I’ve realized a startling truth: the student body of the University of North Carolina is far more right-leaning than any of us imagined. I will explain this in the coming paragraphs. But this discovery has made me realize something even bigger: by numbers alone, we have the ability to turn UNC, the Berkeley of the East, that island of urban leftism in the sea of Orange County, into one of the most conservative elite colleges in America. And with it, campus life will become far richer, students will be happier, and discourse will be better— even for leftists. Allow me to explain.
Before I begin, we need to understand what being ‘woke’ means. It started in 2014 after the ‘Michael Brown police killing’ conspiracy theory was born after a police officer shot Michael Brown Jr. in self defense. As riots erupted, the phrase ‘stay woke’ entered the national lexicon for the first time, a play on the word ‘awake,’ meaning to be ‘awake’ to ‘truth’ of the supposed murder. From this conspiracy theory was also born the inklings of Black Lives Matter, something that has since grown into a pervasive, revolutionary social movement to reorganize American society along entirely new principles.
Though ‘woke’ originally meant believing in the media hype about yet another fake police murder, it has since grown into something much larger. Woke became a way of life. Wokeness was not just a means of signaling racial consciousness and class solidarity, but a catchphrase for the socially progressive. The same (primarily white, coincidentally) college students that had parroted ‘stay woke’ began to signal their piety with buzzwords in the same way that Christians might say ‘God Bless.’ First came heightened support of gay marriage after Obergefell v. Hodges, then support of illegal immigrants soon after Trump entered the ‘16 Presidential race, (‘No human is illegal on stolen land’), ‘Trans Rights,’ pronouns in a social media bio, the black square, toppling statues… I needn’t finish this litany. You’ve all lived through this, after all. The point is that all of these actions, facets of language, and their accompanying aesthetic became recognized as part of one paradigm, coined ‘wokeness.’ And in cities and universities, this paradigm has become the reigning orthodoxy— replacing the traditional moral compass that average Americans received through a mix of family traditions, Christianity, and their older public school history lessons.
Many UNC students are integrated into this orthodoxy, obviously. It’s why they toppled Silent Sam, it’s why we see pronouns in Twitter bios, it’s why sororities put up halfhearted BLM virtue signaling displays; it’s why so many activists want to abolish Greek Life, too.
There is an enormous subset of UNC’s student body that does not like this. Most importantly, even students who are not particularly political are turned off by wokeness. For one thing, most of the ideologues are unlikable and communicate with abrasive, vulgar language— but aside from that, they threaten many things that are good and enjoyable about Chapel Hill.
Foremost: abolishing Greek Life would mean no good parties. Could the anti-social individuals targeting Greek Life ever replace that unique opportunity to form lifelong bonds (not to mention parties in mansions on a regular basis) with their socially-distanced The Office sessions? Needless to say, no good parties means unhappy students. For Greeks (who are a sizable university population in their own right) it means destroying their primary institution of social interaction, and indeed, friendship and brother/sisterhood.
Second, no one wants to have to put pronouns in their bio/ Zoom tag announcing the obvious just to cater to a minuscule subset of the population that refuses to accept the scientific reality of the sexual binary. The more pointed threat, though, is the ‘woke’ crowd’s unhealthy habit of policing language and erupting when others contradict their worldview. These things chill academic discussions in classrooms and around campus, making the intellectual life of UNC less enriching than it ought to be. Not only is it physically draining to constantly watch your tongue when in recitation section, but it is a waste of our tuition to hear canned ‘anti-racist’ talking points, which could just as easily be found in a twitter comment section, in the place of fruitful and serious intellectual discussions that should occur at a prestigious university.
Finally, many students from rural NC come to Carolina from what they would consider a ‘centrist’ worldview, having been raised to love their family, love their church, and love America. They see nothing political about hunting or fishing, going to church, saluting the flag, or just being a white Southerner. When they reach UNC, they find their very identity has been negatively politicized, and are ostracized from the en vogue academic scene unless they adopt a self-hatred and new set of progressive mores.
Since taking over as Editor-in-Chief of this ‘subversive’ publication, I have been pleasantly shocked to find abundant support at every corner from not just politicos, but from peers disillusioned with the aforementioned things. Especially among Freshmen, for whom the vice grip of wokeness has been tightened (our contest winner explains this in a later article), the undercurrent of non-leftist thought is practically overflowing.
We at Carolina Review intend to take this current and direct it into the stream of student consciousness, for two reasons. First, because we enjoy it— we enjoy expressing our opinions, and the feeling of being part of something special and up-and-coming— but second, because we know that we have a chance to make UNC a more conservative school.
My title is admittedly a bit click-baity. I don’t think we will turn UNC into a dedicated factory for Fox News anchors (at least not in this decade). I simply mean that by growing Carolina Review into a cutting-edge, well-read, well-staffed publication, we have a chance at making UNC a school with a lively liberal and conservative political scene. By reporting on news, students will be able to hear about campus events without the unbearable sheen of wokeness that defines other publications around campus. As Carolina Review grows in size and readership, we think that the campus environment will warm up as students see so many of their peers willing to publicly write for a conservative group, causing everyone to enjoy more honest, lively discourse.
Like how Stanford has the Hoover Institution, UChicago has the Economics School, Dartmouth has their Review and institutional Greek Life, and Princeton has Whig-Clio hosting Ted Cruz, UNC can have its own beating heart of right-wing society. At the very least, we can hope to produce alumni to represent our fair University better than Roy Cooper.
The seeds are all there. As a school that must source the majority of the student body from within NC, we have the advantage of a significantly higher amount of socially conservative students than other universities. We have a decaying left-wing hegemony on all campus institutions, from the main student newspaper to political groups and debating societies, that is helping us by tilling the ground with their foolishness and venom.
So if you want to fight this fight, join us. We are the only big tent on campus— ironically with greater political diversity than the ostensibly nonpolitical DTH. Like a hidden reservoir, the support is there— we just need to tap into it.
The only thing stopping Carolina conservatives is the belief that we can’t win.
Bryson Scott Piscitelli is a Sophomore studying Contemporary European Studies, Peace War & Defense, and the Russian Language. He is from Raleigh, NC.