UNC-Chapel Hill

Coronavirus goes to college in NC, and thrives

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Some 3,000 students have been infected, and that's a low estimate:

At least 3,000 college students in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus since campuses reopened last month for in-person classes, with an overwhelming number of cases coming from just three campuses, an Associated Press analysis shows.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has seen 895 students test positive for the virus since classes began Aug. 10, while North Carolina State University has reported 788 cases among students over the same time period. East Carolina University, which started classes Aug. 10, has had 756 students test positive since Aug. 9.

Even with this damning evidence of the risk, Republicans are still (continually) harping about opening the schools, and attacking Roy Cooper for his careful approach. Pay close attention to this spike in positives from testing:

UNC officials pay lip service to health department concerns

Plunging ahead with in-person instruction during a pandemic:

In the memo, Stewart expressed concern over signs returning students have already contributed to spikes and clusters of infections. She recommended an all-online fall semester or, at a minimum, holding the first five weeks of the semester online-only. She also recommended the school restrict on-campus housing to those who would otherwise have nowhere to live, in order to slow community spread of the disease.

The chancellor described the Orange County Health Department’s recommendations as “another piece of information we have received.” But after consulting with UNC health experts and the UNC System — which will make the final decision on closures — the university decided not to follow the health department recommendations.

When (not if) the outbreaks occur, faculty and students will have to scramble (again) to adapt to online instruction, and the UNC Hospital itself will likely be buried in older Orange County residents unnecessarily infected. And if it is, they need to treat those people for free. I know it's a teaching hospital that also relies (at least partly) on tuition monies, but health issues should be paramount. And these comments will not age well:

UNC needs volunteers for Coronavirus vaccine trials

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It's a strangely attractive offer, but that could just be a brutal case of cabin fever:

The vaccine trial at UNC will be a Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Moderna, a private research company.

Moderna’s vaccine is based on taking genetic material, known as mRNA, from the coronavirus. When a person gets the vaccine, their cells will make viral proteins from this mRNA, just as they would if they were infected by the coronavirus. Their immune system should learn to detect these proteins to fight off future exposure to COVID-19.

While I'm trying to decide if I want to be one of UNC's little Outbreak monkeys, here's some stuff on genetics that flies over this primate's head:

Memorial Hall on UNC campus under scrutiny for Confederate references

A lot of history in that building, and not all of it is good:

“We have all kinds of plaques in the hallways that remind us of the founders of the University. Some of them are only identified as ‘John Smith, planter,’ and then there are other people who are identified clearly as people who are signers of the original charter, they’re important people,” Moeser said. “But on either side of the proscenium are memorial plaques to the alumni Confederate war dead."

Christina Rodriguez, associate director of marketing and communications for CPA, said at this point, CPA has officially lodged a request through former Chancellor Moeser to move the conversation about the future of the tablets forward.

And of course there's always the question of slave labor used in the construction of these really old buildings, and how many were injured (or killed) during that process.

Did Bob Rucho orchestrate the Silent Sham deal?

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It would come as no big surprise if he did:

In an email dated this February, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans asks for a meeting with UNC Board of Governors member Bob Rucho, but the documents include no other correspondence until November.

That's when the UNC System asked the attorney general's office for approval to retain outside counsel for a possible settlement regarding Silent Sam. Eight days later, the settlement was done, and UNC-Chapel Hill — the campus where the statue once stood — had been told to transfer $2,574,999 to the university system.

I generally refrain from asking questions in headlines (like the above), because it borders on a logical fallacy and can easily drag you into conspiracy theory territory. But I'm also a big fan of Occam's Razor. If the SCV wanted a meeting with Rucho back in February and didn't get it, there would likely have been some follow-up communications shortly thereafter. Since there weren't, we can assume that the meeting took place, or at least some form of communication transpired between the two entities outside of official channels. Another question that needs answering: Why did they pick Bob Rucho to meet with out of the 5 members tasked with solving the problem? I know why they didn't pick Darrel Allison, although he is probably clueless.

Silent Sham may cost UNC millions in grant money

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The high price of irresponsibility:

UNC-Chapel Hill spokeswoman Kate Luck confirmed late Thursday that the school "is in conversations with the Mellon Foundation, one of our most valued external partners, about their concerns related to the UNC System’s legal settlement regarding the Confederate Monument.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the world and a key funder of academic research. According to its publicly available database, it awarded UNC-Chapel Hill seven Mellon grants over the last three years, totaling more than $7 million​.

It's likely Republicans won't be that concerned over this, because the bulk of the Mellon grants are targeted to the Humanities, as opposed to medical research. But as a former history major myself, I have been following the UNC Humanities for several years now, and this division has contributed greatly to both the culture of NC via the arts, and a much better understanding of the social fabric holding us together. The last thing we need to do is undermine projects like this:

Skolstrejk För Klimatet: Triangle students join national movement

And the children shall lead them:

The Triangle Climate Strike in Raleigh is one of 800 events in the United States. On Friday morning, Chapel Hill high-schoolers will join students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University at the Peace and Justice Plaza. The activists will leave Chapel Hill at 9:30 a.m. and cycle 30 miles to the Triangle Climate Strike at Halifax Mall in Raleigh.

UNC-Chapel Hill organizers said the goals for combating climate change include reducing fossil fuel and stopping the use of coal-fired power plants, most notably the power plant operated by the university.

I could go on one of my usual tirades, attempting to grasp and portray the science behind the looming devastation of Climate Change. But today is about young people taking a stand, and carrying this banner forward. And I can think of no better young person to quote than Greta Thunberg, who sailed across the ocean to take her stand. The following is a transcript of her speech before the U.S. Congress:

Subverting higher ed: New "school" at UNC has conservative stench

We've been down this bent road before:

The Program for Civic Virtue and Civil Discourse — approved by the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill — is set to begin in Fall of 2021. Chris Clemons, a UNC senior associate dean who is spearheading the program’s launch, told the Editorial Board Monday that the purpose of the program is to support a culture of open, respectful and productive public debate at UNC.

That should sound good to anyone fatigued by the tenor and lack of substance in public discourse these days. But evidence indicates that the UNC program might be less about those high-minded objectives and more about promoting conservative thought.

The second part of that title (Civil Discourse) has the flavor of a few recent columns by John Hood and other Pope mouthpieces. Combine that with the harsh and counter-intuitive "Free Speech" law that Republicans passed a few years ago, and you've got the likelihood of more Tom Tancredo incidents looming in the future. But probably the most damning evidence this school is going to be disruptive is the stealthy nature of its beginnings:

Cleansing higher education of White Supremacist past

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Monuments to the Ku Klux Klan should be purged entirely:

In 2015, as Black Lives Matter gained prominence as a national movement, trustees were impelled to act. Students held protests and demanded that Saunders Hall be renamed Hurston Hall in honor of the celebrated author Zora Neale Hurston, who is said to have attended classes at the university. The vote to rename the hall was not unanimous.

But after a review, the trustees conceded that university leaders in 1920 made a mistake in citing Mr. Saunders’s role as head of the K.K.K. in North Carolina as a qualification.

That last sentence is a doozie. But it also brings up an important question, that may have some bearing on how other buildings are evaluated: If the KKK had not been mentioned in that document, would they still have renamed the building? Or was that particular acknowledgment just too blatant for the Trustees to ignore? There are numerous other historical sources verifying that Saunders was at least one of the Grand Poo-Bahs of the Klan back then; hopefully that would have been enough to strike his name, because there are likely other situations where there isn't a boldly typed sentence to rely on. Here's some historical context:

Neo-Confederates clash with students (again) in Chapel Hill

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And once again, dude shows up with a gun and is allowed to leave with it:

After two incidents in which opponents pushed each other, Chapel Hill police brought in portable plastic barriers to separate the two groups. “You are evil and nasty,” Wendy Hayslett, a “Confederate” protester told the students and their supporters, shouting into a bullhorn. The anti-racists answered with chants of “Go home, Nazis.”

One protester arrived late with a handgun holstered on his hip. He carried a Confederate flag and a sign that said, “WARNING. LEAVE SOUTHERN MONUMENTS ALONE.” A member of the Heirs group invited him to join them, but police cautioned him he could not come onto the site with the gun. He left and came back without it.

Watch the video. They got into several scuffles before the police showed up and placed barriers between them. But here's the kicker: The Town of Chapel Hill issued the Confederate group a permit, so they knew when and where this was going to happen. Police should have been there before this began, not after the pushing and shoving took place. Even the Lost Cause Snowflakes were surprised at that oversight:

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