Hey! My name is Erin, I’m a first year at UNC, and this was NOT the transition to college that I expected.
I figured that my first semester would be hard, and I was steeling myself to get ready for late nights in the library and a lot of studying. As a type A person, I wanted to get a schedule down as soon as possible. I was going to get involved with a couple of clubs, go to swim practice a few times a week, and work my a** off in order to get good grades. But UNC had some other plans.
The night before classes started, I was in Memorial Hall at the a capella sunset serenade when I got a bunch of texts that protestors had physically pulled down Silent Sam. The next couple days, rumors circulated about KKK and neo-Nazi members coming to campus and hosting rallies in support of white supremacy. During that first weekend, I walked to a friend’s dorm and saw a bunch of confederate flags surrounding where the statue had stood. I remember feeling really freaked out and hoping that all of this would blow over soon so I could focus on smoothly transitioning into college and being on my own for the first time in my life.
I was not expecting for a hurricane to hit the third week of school, cancelling classes for an entire week. It was actually kind of cool because, when they sent out the email, everyone in my dorm went on to the balconies and cheered. Some guys on the 7th floor brought out speakers and got everyone to run up and down the stairs singing to “Party in the USA” and “Last Friday Night”. I thought the hurricane was just a freak thing and everything would go back to normal soon.
The following week, I collapsed on my bathroom floor because I was so dizzy and couldn’t stand up. My suitemates took my temperature and it turns out I had a 102 degree fever. The next day, I went to Campus Health and got diagnosed with strep throat, which I had never had before. Being incredibly sick on my own and not having my parents around was pretty difficult, as I essentially didn’t have the strength to leave my bed for five days. Finally, I recovered and was able to have a few short weeks of peace and stability before the second hurricane hit. I remember walking out of Lenoir with friends and literally getting blown over because the rain and wind were so strong. (Side note: I had to go back through my camera roll and make a list of everything that happened so I wouldn’t forget to include anything). Next on the list was the water crisis! Being without fresh water for two days was just such a good time. The second one in the last two years, if anyone is keeping track. The last time this happened in 2017, we won a National Championship sooooooo foreshadowing???
Throughout all of this, we’re still dealing with Silent Sam and the ongoing debate over whether a racist statue belongs on the grounds of a public university. Mid-November, an email went out about a plan to put Silent Sam in a building on South Campus that would cost $5.3 million. The student population went WILD. The memes in the Facebook group were poppin’, to say the least. A couple weeks later, that plan was vetoed by the Board of Trustees, and now the debate will be brought into the new semester, as the next deadline for a plan isn’t until March.
Alright, cool. Whatever. It’s been a crazy few months, but finals are here, and the semester is almost at its end. Nothing else can happen, right? WRONG.
A snowstorm blew in during finals and pushed exams back a few days. Instead of studying, hundreds of students collectively decided to go to Kenan Stadium, build some snowmen and engage in hours-long snowball fights. Needless to say, I had a blast. I mean, I got sick again, but it was totally worth it. Finally, finals were over, winter break had arrived and everyone went home to make up for all the sleep we had lost throughout the course of the semester and to enjoy some home-cooked meals. We rested up, got it together and moved back in to the dorms for spring semester.
Carol announced her resignation during the first full week of classes and authorized the complete removal of the base of Silent Sam AND BROUGHT IN A GIANT CRANE THAT NIGHT TO GET RID OF ALL THAT REMAINED. Talk about a power move. The entire university is shook, and, while Carol made some questionable decisions in the past, there’s no doubt that she’ll be remembered for this. Due to this bold act, the Board of Governors is forcing her into leaving at the end of January instead of at the end of May. For those who don’t know, the Board of Governors is controlled by the N.C. General Assembly, which is currently a Republican majority, so you can see why they’re incredibly pissed off. They will most likely appoint another old white male to be chancellor, who will probably try to bring Silent Sam back, therefore extending the craziness and arguments into future semesters. Great.
Despite all of this, I had an amazing first semester of college. It was chaotic and completely nuts, but I had a blast. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, met some absolutely lovely people who are now my best friends, stayed up way too late, learned an insane amount of information that hopefully I will use again, formed relationships with my professors and, overall, was happier than I had ever been. Everything that happened made me realize that I can get through and overcome anything else that UNC throws at me throughout the next three and a half years. So let’s see it UNC. Give me your best shot.