The Top 10 Nuttiest Campus Events in N.C. Higher Education in 2004

, Jon Sanders, Leave a comment

At the end of every year I compile this list, and every year I include a “hope for more” in the following year. And every year, I haven’t been disappointed in that hope. I hope next year will continue that trend.

That hope having been expressed, on with this year’s list:

10. Duke, N.C. State faculty agree: Conservatives are dumb.

Robert Brandon, chair of Duke’s philosophy department, reacted to the disparity between Republicans and Democrats among Duke faculty with, “If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.” Two N.C. State professors faulted students’ lack of information for their support of Bush. Political science Prof. Michael Cobb said the more that students were “misinformed about Iraq, the more likely they supported Bush,” and English professor Nick Halpern said “Republican students I have talked to are amazingly uninformed.”

9. Bonds — new bonds.

In the summer, the General Assembly passed a nearly $340 million bond package for the UNC System. This was on top of the $3.1 billion bond proposal that voters approved in 2000. Voters didn’t get the chance to approve this one. Legislators said they were for “necessary projects” in the UNC system — despite many not appearing on the UNC Board of Governors’ list of desired projects.

8 (tie). New “Sexuality Studies” minor at UNC-Chapel Hill announced proudly.

In June the “Diversity News Roundup” of UNC-CH’s Office of Minority Affairs hailed the new minor “designed for students interested in exploring the study of sexual/gender identities.”

8 (tie). New “Latina/o Studies” minor at UNC-Chapel Hill announced proudly.

In August, UNC-CH hailed the “first Latina/o minor at a university in the Southeast” with a kickoff event featuring music, dance, and a lecture in “Gendered Transculturations in Six Feet Under: Rethinking Disciplinary Boundaries.”

7. Proposed Western Civilization program at UNC-Chapel Hill denounced loudly.

In November, UNC-CH leftists protested the proposal as “history dealing solely with the disenfranchised plight of rich, white, Protestant men” and chanted “Stop the hate, stop the fear, we don’t wan this money here!”

6. N.C. State shuts everyone out of its chancellor selection again.

Despite the closed search of 1998 being so widely criticized, the chancellor selection committee at N.C. State (the state’s largest “public” university) managed to outdo it this year — by signing confidentiality agreements.

5. When we said “Women’s Week,” we didn’t mean those women …

For the second straight year, Carolina Students for Life wasn’t able to have their pro-life view represented during Women’s Week on campus — but the group finally prevailed over the UNC-CH Women’s Center to be included on its web site and to have the center not take an official stance on the issue of abortion.

4. Look out, class — a violent, heterosexist, white Christian male!

The U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found UNC-CH English lecturer Elyse Crystall guilty of sexually and racially harassing and discriminating against the student she identified by name in a classwide email February as “a white, heterosexual, [C]hristian male … [who] feel[s] entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable.” Crystall spent the remainder of the year pretending she’s the real victim — and somehow managed to keep her job.

3. Duke’s pro-terrorism conference.

Lee Kaplan of FrontPage Magazine attended Duke’s “Palestinian Solidarity Movement Conference” in October. The guest of honor declared Zionism “a disease” and said there was “Nazi-Zionist collaboration” during the Holocaust, Kaplan reported, while other speakers urged divestment in Israel as taught how to goad public schools into teaching “Israeli oppression,” how to deceive Jewish philanthropies, and how to infiltrate Jewish youth groups to access their funding. There were only two resolutions to fail during the conference, Kaplan reported — the only ones that tried “to condemn suicide bombings and terrorism.”

2. School of the art of the deal.

Unusual payroll entries tipped auditors off to corruption at the N.C. School of the Arts that State Auditor Ralph Campbell would later compare to Enron. Among the findings: state and NCSA-affiliated foundation funds used to make car lease payments and country-club dues for NCSA administrators; illegal land sales to divert funds and help put a deposit on a new residency for the chancellor; diversion of funds through property sales; use of three secret bank accounts; illegal payments of more than $90,000 to a vice chancellor; and improper payments to university employees and one employee’s sister.

1. UNC-Chapel Hill tells three-member Christian fraternity: “Your money or your group!”

Because lying was against the group’s code of conduct, and because the group was a Christian organization whose mission was to evangelize fraternities at UNC-CH, the leader of Alpha Iota Omega declined to sign UNC-CH’s “non-discrimination” policy. UNC-CH officials had made it clear that by signing it, he was agreeing that the group would admit members of other faiths — which obviously they couldn’t do without defeating AIO’s purpose. UNC-CH responded by derecognizing the group, freezing its university account (including money the group had raised itself), shutting off its web access, and denying the group the ability to reserve space on campus.

Jon Sanders ( is a policy analyst with the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh.