The Oct. 6 story "Compromising curriculum?" offers a rather disturbing view of how the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill is thinking these days.
First, they tell us that they aren't concerned with the proposal's academic merit but rather the source of funding. Sociology professor Sherryl Kleinman asks, "What does it say about a university if its leaders accept 'gifts' from those who support organizations that systematically attack the university's faculty and programs?" She later states, "If the university is to retain its integrity, we should have basic principles that underlie whose money we are willing to accept."
Just where do she and the other faculty at UNC think the university's funding comes from? Its primary source is North Carolina taxpayers, a significant percentage of which are conservative, Christian, and I am sure in the same category as the Pope Foundation when it comes to being critical of the university faculty and programs. Also, what does she think the Pope Foundation is, a front for al Qaeda?
I'm conservative in my views but I read and enjoy the Independent because I want a broad understanding of issues (liberal in its truest sense). I am not offended or feel that my integrity has been violated because someone may be critical of my viewpoint. I am ashamed that the flagship university of the UNC system would go behind closed doors to discuss not the merits of a program but whether to accept funding from a source that is occasionally critical of university programs and faculty.
I am seeing an active effort on college campuses to block even any possibility of right-leaning discussion. It's considered a breach of academic integrity. I hope UNC administrators do not bow to this narrow-minded thinking by its faculty, which would truly erode the university's academic integrity.
Pope Center compromised
Thanks to Barbara Solow for covering the opposition by UNC-CH faculty, in her article "Compromising curriculum?" (Oct. 6), to some administrators' and faculty's consideration of a $25 million dollar grant, from Art and John Pope of the Pope Foundation, to create a "Studies in Western Civilization" certificate.
As graduate students who teach at UNC-CH, we too are concerned when administrators consider taking any money from individuals who fund organizations that attack UNC's programs and professors; in short, organizations that attack academic freedom.
In addition to what Barbara Solow covered, the Pope Center and the Carolina Journal of the John Locke Foundation, also supported by the Popes, have attacked courses designed to address race, class and gender oppression (including Dr. Sandy Darity's course "The Social and Economic History of the Black Presence at UNC-CH"), studies in femininity and feminism, and studies in ending men's violence against women. Similar attacks have been levied against the multidisciplinary Social and Economic Justice Minor at UNC-CH, which a Pope Center writer described as "peddling politicized hokum." Pope Center staff have also derided the multidisciplinary Sexuality Studies Minor and scoffed at the systematic discrimination faced by LGBTQ-identified people at UNC-CH.
Additionally, these groups have attacked the Carolina Covenant, Chancellor Moeser's strategy for making higher education more accessible for economically disadvantaged North Carolinians. George Leef, the director of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, in his article "Do We Really Need the 'Carolina Covenant'?" asks, "Why give them a free ride in hopes of attracting a few more students who might have been deterred from applying?" The "them" Leef refers to are the children of NC's working poor, who in his view are undeserving of financial support and access to higher education.
Should the university align itself with such a track record?
Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Heather Kane, Matt Ezzell, Tanya Golash-Boza, Ken Kolb, Krista McQueeny, graduate students in sociology
Tara Kachgal, graduate student in school of journalism and mass communication
John K. Chapman, Kieran W. Taylor, graduate students in history
Robert Pleasants, graduate student in the school of education
No double standard
Rachel Sobel Bearman, as a member of Jews for a Just Peace, refers to "the double standard of some Jewish groups that insist that Palestinian groups condemn the killing of innocent civilians by suicide bombers but refuse to insist that Israeli groups similarly condemn the killing of innocent civilians by the Israeli military or settlers" ("Local Jews to participate in Palestinian conference," Oct. 6).
There is no double standard. Jewish groups do not insist that no innocent Jewish civilians be killed. They insist that no innocent civilians be targeted. Unlike Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli army does not target civilians; it targets those with whom it is at war (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.). When the IDF attacks combatants, civilians who have not been targeted are often also killed.
It is interesting that when Israel kills no civilians, only killing those terrorists with whom they are at war, Israel is accused of "targeted assassinations." One wonders why so-called peace movements condemn the killing by the Israeli army of those who have taken responsibility for terrorist acts.
The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza occurred as a result of Arab failed attempts at Israel's destruction. A true peace movement would renounce violence and opt for a negotiated settlement without the threat of violence. Each time the Palestinians choose violence they lose more land. Had the world abandoned the Palestinians a long time ago instead of supporting and fueling their self-destructive acts, there would now have been a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza.
In any war, civilians die. The way to avoid the deaths of innocents is to not make war. After renouncing violence in the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have chosen, once again, a violent solution to end the Israeli occupation, a failed tactic that is the cause of their plight now.
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