August 30, 2002
Carolina in the News
Current National Coverage
Here is a sampling of links and notes about Carolina
people and programs cited recently in the national media:
A victory for knowledge (Editorial)
Buffalo News (N.Y.)
Efforts by conservative groups and North Carolina state legislators to stop a University
of North Carolina reading assignment are anti-intellectual at best, and censorship at worst.
A federal judge saved the state national embarrassment by allowing the book to be read
and discussed by incoming freshmen.
(Note: Other national summer reading program coverage includes an article in the
Wednesday edition of The Grand Rapids Press (Michigan) about Chancellor Moeser's
National Press Club speech on Tuesday.)
Schools grapple with Sept. 11 lesson plans
American studies teacher Nicolle Robinson struck a nerve this week when she asked her
Granite High School students in Salt Lake City to write an essay on the first day of school
about how Sept. 11 affected them... The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
also provoked an outcry from Christian conservatives by asking 3,000 incoming freshmen
to read a book on the Koran and discuss it in small groups on Aug. 19, the day before
classes began... Chancellor James Moeser said the university wanted to stimulate students
to begin learning about an important world religion at the crux of events surrounding
(Note: News Services supplied information for this story and arranged Chancellor
Moeser's interview. The Chicago Tribune requires free registration to access articles.)
Invitation to Palestinian Draws Protest at Colorado College
The New York Times
Eager to find a provocative keynote speaker for a three-day symposium next month on
world events, Colorado College, a small liberal arts institution here, invited Hanan Ashrawi,
a Palestinian moderate well-known in the West as a forceful and articulate spokeswoman
for Palestinian causes... Officials at the University of North Carolina have been criticized
for asking students to read a book about the Koran, and the University of South Florida
asked a court if it could dismiss a tenured Palestinian professor who has been accused of
having ties to terrorists.
(Note: The New York Times requires free registration to access articles.)
Religious Indoctrination, The Koran and the ACLU (Letters to the Editor)
The Wall Street Journal
In the Aug. 23 Letters to the Editor, John Boddie, president of North Carolina's ACLU,
states that the ACLU would object if a lawsuit was filed to stop the teaching of the Bible or
(Note: The Wall Street Journal featured two letters to the editor today. To view them,
please scroll down to the bottom of today's Carolina in the News.)
Suckers are born every minute (Commentary)
The Cincinnati Post
The cost of brain maintenance in America is skyrocketing. College tuition at private
colleges has increased 24 percent (to an average of $23,000) over the past 5 years, at
public universities, 17 percent (to an in-state average of $11,000)... Good season tickets
for the Cincinnati Reds, among the league's most affordable, are $2,600. This is roughly
what one might spend for a year in-state at the venerable University of North Carolina
($2,800), one-third the price for UC ($7,000), and one-tenth, Harvard ($26,000).
No reason strong enough for a Title IX takedown (Editorial)
When Agnus Berenato graduated from high school in 1975 as an all-star athlete, there were
virtually no sports scholarships for women... A few years later came a phone call from the
women's basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, and, "He started talking to
me about this thing called Title IX." She came home, played brilliantly for UNC, became a
coach and is now running the women's basketball program at Georgia Tech.
Etc... Best colleges for a quality education on a budget
Christian Science Monitor
Academic excellence, affordability, and community involvement are among the biggest
draws for students this year, according to Newsweek's annual college guide. The magazine
lists the following "hot schools" for 2003... University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill...
UMBC named to list of 12 'hottest schools'
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has been named one of the nation's 12
"hottest schools" in Newsweek's new college guide... Other schools designated as "hot"
include the University of North Carolina, McGill University, Boston College and George
(Note: The Baltimore Sun requires free registration to access articles.)
National News Notes
Coverage regarding a UNC study about the effects of smallpox vaccine continues to appear
in national newspapers including New York Daily News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the
Singapore Strait Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This coverage resulted from a
UNC news release and media relations efforts involving News Services and the School of
Medicine. To view the news release, please click here.
Regional News Note
A positive editorial about the summer reading program from The Herald (Rock Hill, South
Carolina) appeared in the Associated Press weekly roundup of international editorials. This
editorial is no longer available online, but is included at the bottom of today's edition of
Carolina in the News.
State and Local Coverage
The learning response
News and Observer
The big news at UNC-Chapel Hill the past few weeks has been this summer's freshman
reading assignment, "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations." ... In the weeks after
Sept. 11, the staff at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill discussed how the
museum could use art to help North Carolinians know more about Islam. The result was
"Word and Worship: Approaching Islam Through Art," an 18-piece exhibit that opened
Aug. 15 and will run through Dec. 29... Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh has sold
all of its 115 copies of the book and has 100 on order. The store will hold a panel discussion
on the book tonight, and the book's author, Michael Sells, will appear at the store on Sept. 7
UNC Chancellor Defends Stance In Quran Debate
UNC Chancellor James Moeser defended the school's choice of a controversial book for
incoming freshmen. The book, Approaching the Quran, is at the center of the controversy.
The book, which contains passages from the holy book of Islam, is a summer reading
requirement for incoming freshmen. Last month, three unnamed freshmen and the Family
Policy Network, a conservative Christian organization, filed a lawsuit over the assignment.
Reading book on Qur'an, Islam not brainwashing (Letter to the Editor)
I have been watching the debate over the proposed reading material at The University of
North Carolina with a modicum of interest...
Inform, not convert (Letter to the Editor)
Greensboro News and Record
It seems that the basic premise of university education has been lost. Historically, such an
education consisted primarily of presenting new ideas to students, having them study the
ideas' pros and cons, and encouraging them to form an opinion about the validity of
(Note: The Greensboro News and Record publishes all letters to the editor on the same
web page. To view this letter, please go to the above url and scroll down the web page.)
Self-Inflicted Harm (Letter to the Editor)
The uproar over the University of North Carolina reading assignment is the result of
political election-year pandering and narrow-mindedness...
(Note: The Winston-Salem Journal published two letters to the editor today regarding the
summer reading program. To view both letters, please go to the above url and scroll
down the web page.)
News and Observer
That camping trip you planned for Labor Day sounded so great last spring. But now, after
reading story after story about scientists poring over dead birds and people getting sick with
West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis, well ... DEET-based products work best,
according to Dr. Mark Fradin, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor at the UNC
School of Medicine, one of the authors of a study comparing the effectiveness of various
repellents published this summer in The New England Journal of Medicine.
(Note: Fradin's research was the subject of a UNC news release)
Schools, race conference hot-ticket item
Chapel Hill Herald
The new civil rights center at UNCís School of Law makes its national debut with a flourish
today, hosting a daylong conference on the growing issue of resegregation.
Ahn Trio to kick off World Arts Festival
Chapel Hill Herald
The Ahn Trio, three Korean-born sisters who continue to display their "cool, funky" sense
of style as well as musicianship, kicks off the World Arts Festival. The trio performs at 8
p.m. Sept. 6 at UNCís Hill Hall and gives an 11 a.m. show for schoolchildren the same
day, same place.
Issues and Trends Affecting Carolina
Connecticut Colleges Turn to Web Software to Check Condition of Campus Buildings
The Chronicle of Higher Education
College officials in Connecticut are turning to Web-based "expert systems" to assess the
condition of campus buildings and the cost of maintaining and renovating them. Such systems,
which let users create different financial scenarios and answer "what if" questions, are
replacing three-ring binders as indispensable tools for campus-facilities managers..
Connecticut's cost for using the system to analyze its facilities was about 11 cents per
square foot. That cost is in line with the 10 cents per square foot that institutions traditionally
pay consultants to prepare similar analyses, says Kevin J. MacNaughton, associate vice
president for finance who is the university property officer for the University of North
Carolina system administration.
(Note: The Chronicle of Higher Education requires a subscription to access articles.)
Winmore, UNC apply for annexations
Chapel Hill Herald
The Board of Aldermen could vote as soon as next month on proposed annexations totaling
nearly 500 acres, including property owned by UNC and land targeted for the Winmore
House speaker wants session limits
News and Observer
The General Assembly spent another week in Raleigh without passing a budget, the summer
is turning to fall and the "short session" is quickly turning into another prolonged session
Trustees support trimmed hotel
News and Observer
A trustee committee endorsed a scaled-back version of N.C. State University's long-
planned executive conference center and hotel Thursday, over the objections of private
hotel owners who said the committee rushed its decision.
A matter of scale (Editorial)
News and Observer
The luxury quotient has been reduced, square-footage has been trimmed and costs have
been cut. Now N.C. State University officials want to proceed with $60 million plans for a
hotel-executive conference center on the university's Centennial Campus.
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The Wall Street Journal
Letters to the Editor
August 30, 2002
The Koran and the ACLU
In the Aug. 23 Letters to the Editor, John Boddie, president of North Carolina's ACLU, states
that the ACLU would object if a lawsuit was filed to stop the teaching of the Bible or the Torah.
Maybe. However, Mr. Boddie is not citing an equivalent example to that of requiring the teaching
of the Koran.
If the University of North Carolina, or any other public university for that matter, required
teaching of the Torah or of the Bible, I believe the position of the ACLU would be quite different.
The doctrine of separation of church and state would certainly be invoked. And I doubt that such
teaching would be allowed to be construed as an inquiry into the beliefs of [Christianity, Judaism]
for the purposes of enriched understanding. Nor, I believe, would the ACLU tolerate students
having to write a paper explaining why they refuse to take the required course, and how it offends
their religious values
Most Muslims, Jews and Christians are not bad people. But understanding comes from people
determined to accept other people. It is not from requiring the reading of their sacred literature in
a public university. Those who intentionally hurt others are not abiding by the tenets of their
religions in the first place.
Beside the Point
In response to John Boddie's claim that "the ACLU has never sought to stop the teaching of any
religion in a secular context": This may be true, but the ACLU has gone to great lengths to stop
even the simple commemoration of a religious event by any institution that can be construed as
part of government. Or are we to believe the ACLU honestly believes a manger scene on the
statehouse lawn is a form of religious indoctrination?
The Herald Rock Hill, SC
Exploring Islam at UNC
August 21, 2002
Many of the 4,200 incoming freshmen and transfer students at the University of North Carolina
now have a different or at least better informed view of Islam and its holy book, the Quran.
Considering that one of the functions of a university is to introduce students to new ideas, that's a
UNC-Chapel Hill has the dubious distinction of having sponsored one of the most controversial
freshman orientation programs in history. While the idea of requiring freshmen to read
"Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations" may have struck university officials as an
interesting intellectual exercise, it ended up sparking a heated national debate.
That is due, in part, to the subject matter but in larger part to fact that a conservative Christian
group decided to fan the flames by taking the university to court. The Family Policy Network
contended in its lawsuit against UNC that the assignment amounted to the promotion of Islam by
the university. An appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond, Va., was denied Monday
just hours before discussions of the book were to start. So, with reporters looking on, students
talked about the Quran.
To be fair, the argument of the Family Policy Network was not entirely without merit. The
university did relent in its requirement that all incoming freshmen read the book, saying that those
who chose not to could write a paper outlining their objections to the assignment instead.
If the situation had been reversed, if all students had been required to read "Approaching the Bible,"
some undoubtedly would have objected. Muslim students might have complained that the sessions
But the university took steps to ensure that there was nothing coercive about the assignment.
Students could opt out if they wanted to; discussion groups were not graded, and roll was not
taken. (And if this year's freshman class is typical, more than a few students didn't bother to read
the material anyway.)
We suspect, however, that those who did the work and earnestly participated in the discussions
came away a bit more enlightened about one of the world's major religions, one practiced by
millions around the globe. And the benefit of that is obvious.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the basic tenets of Islam have frequently been distorted
and misinterpreted. For example, Franklin Graham, heir to the ministry of his father, the Rev. Billy
Graham, has characterized Islam as an "enemy religion."
UNC freshmen, during orientation at least, were exposed to a view of moderate, mainstream Islamic
ideology with which they may have been entirely unfamiliar. It may enable them to better distinguish
between the faith practiced by millions of peaceful Muslims and that of the radical lunatic fringe.
The purpose of a university is to promote open-mindedness and a willingness to challenge accepted
beliefs and examine new ones. Of course, UNC Chancellor James Moeser had more modest goals
this week. He said the purpose of the assignment was "to get students talking to each other about
something other than basketball, football and sex."
If he succeeded, the orientation can be called a success.