The Technician, the student newspaper at North Carolina State University (NCSU), reports that the Campus Culture Task Force Committee for North Carolina State University is still soliciting input from concerned students and community members, and will continue to do so until Monday, February 16. The committee, formed after the discovery of racist comments painted on the school’s Free Expression Tunnel, is seeking public input prior to submitting a report to University Chancellor James Oblinger regarding the campus climate, the Free Expression Tunnel, and the student code of conduct.
So far, feedback to the committee has been limited and mostly focused on the Free Expression Tunnel. Jose Picart, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, told the Technician, "To be honest, most of the feedback we have gotten has been commentary. A lot of the comments have been reinforcing things we’ve already heard about the Free Expression Tunnel."
Indeed, students are hammering home the point that they do not want to lose this forum for free expression, as the Technician reports that "the overwhelming majority of the feedback" is adamant that the tunnel should be kept open and unrestricted.
Discussion over closing the tunnel began after outrage ensued over racist statements painted in the Free Expression Tunnel last fall. Double standards and calls for censorship have clouded the discussion, leading the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation to call on UNC System President Erskine Bowles to uphold the First Amendment on campus. Bowles has also instituted his own committee, the UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as they Relate to Hate Crimes, to research the possibility of a system-wide policy to address hate crimes. (While this commission was also formed in the wake of the Free Expression Tunnel situation, the painting of the racist comments was determined not to be a crime and would therefore not be addressed by hate crime rules.)
According to the article referenced above, Heather Cutchin, a graduate student and task force member, said that working on this project has helped her see how people can have varying opinions. "It’s been great seeing the ideas people come up with and seeing how sensitive people are to different ideas."
The last day to submit feedback online to the NCSU Campus Culture Task Force is Monday, February 16th. We encourage all concerned students and community members to register their opinions with the task force. The UNC Study Commission is also still accepting public comment and we encourage everyone to drop them a line as well.