When I was in Student Congress, one of the items I did not fund was t-shirts for organizations and events. Funding t-shirts seem to be one of the biggest pieces of waste in Student Government spending. If you look at the 93rd Session of Student Congress, we spent about $4,000 for "rape-free zone" t-shirts to hand out to students for "free." It was such a great message to convey to students: today, UNC is a rape-free zone; every other day, it's your problem.
Here's why I hate t-shirts: there's one for everything. You ran a 5K. Congratulations! Have a t-shirt. You want to find out about why you should vote against Amendment One. Great! Have a t-shirt (even if you support the amendment). You've never raped anybody? Fantastic! Have a t-shirt. It's utterly ridiculous.
Students don't do things for the common good anymore, they expect something for their efforts. I'm sure if you were to do a study of participation in student-sponsored charity events, no one would participate unless a t-shirt or something "free" was involved. Why should I waste my time for charity for no reward when I could be at Kildaire's enjoying $2 drafts?
Do you know which group of people in American society do so much work for the common good, yet receive little recognition for it? The brave men and women of the armed forces. They risk their lives to protect our freedoms. Without them, we wouldn't be able to debate whether or not to add a same-sex marriage amendment to the state constitution because we wouldn't have the freedom to vote and voice our opinions. And what do they ask for in return? Nothing.
The Amendment One protesters really have my blood pressure skyrocketing, too. I have not chosen a side in this fight yet. One way student canvassers can forget my vote is to see them getting free t-shirts, professional photo shoots, free food, and a spot to put on their resume saying they "contributed to society" (even though they're really preaching to the choir in Chapel Hill). At the same time, they're closing the dialogue, not opening it.
Just today I read an editorial that urged students not to attend a Christian meeting on campus because the organizers are asking attendees to support the amendment. Who are the close minded ones now? I'm glad your parents are paying thousands of dollars to send you to school only to learn how to convey one viewpoint instead of reaching out and hearing both sides.
In addition, the protesters on campus are painting those who do support Amendment One as "hatemongers," "bigots," "homophobic," and "backward" when really they're none of these. When protesters of the amendment came to Student Congress asking us to make a resolution on their behalf, they urged members to not "spread hate" and to consider how we wanted "history to view us." Who again are the hatemongers? Some do have conflicting viewpoints. Why must you argue that they are on the wrong side of history when it is their core conviction to support the amendment?
Supporters of the amendment simply want to preserve the traditional family. Why can't we simply have an intelligent discussion so both sides can be heard? I know one thing; the supporters of Amendment One will never have the voice it needs in Chapel Hill. It's really a shame. The town that is supposed to be so inclusive excludes open, active dialogue.
So let's stop demanding t-shirts and let's have real open dialogue on campus.