Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation: Fred Black, Charlie Hileman, Barbara Nagler, Nancy Oates, Sybil Skakle and Dorothy Slaughter

Sexuality and spirituality

Jasper Cobb’s school essay, “Abstinence is a choice,” shared with readers of The Chapel Hill News, is brave and brash (CHN, March 11, Please, Jasper, consider the wisdom and experience of someone who raised three sons. I write to you because you remind me of them at your age, and of myself when I was your age. I am now 89 years old.

Sexuality and spirituality are both part of who we are. Both are good gifts from Our Creator. How we use them is determined by an individual’s mind and will. Our minds are like a boat captain, who directs which route we take and under what circumstances we embark on the water. Or, sexuality or spirituality are like words, which may teach, inspire, praise, encourage, or express love and affection. Or, like other words that may be used to curse, discourage, hurt or destroy another person.

You do indeed choose how you use your sexuality. Whatever your choices, there are consequences. Your choice affects not only your body but another’s as well. And, your choice has an effect on your minds, your spirits, and your never-dying souls.

Sex is such a strong appetite. It takes a brave, strong mind and spirit to resist the allure to instant gratification. I lived in a culture that taught us to wait. Fear of consequences was only one deterrent. Another, not wanting to fail those who believe in me and my virtue, family and friends. For me, there was God and His Son. “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 (NKJV), which encompasses more than sex, but we are not talking theology, but biology, philosophy, and poetry. I urge you to grow into a person of strength, virtue and character. It is your choice!

Sybil Austin Skakle

Chapel Hill

An angry man

I believe Wanda Hunter’s opinion piece (“Key questions in the Chapel Hill shootings,” CHN, is replaying an old narrative when our country is far more complicated. “400 years of white dominance and supremacy”? Sounds like a college paper.

But imagine that nobody was shot, and Craig Hicks walks into your office to apply for a job as a paralegal. He’s obese, balding, middle aged, educated late in life, currently unemployed and paying child support. You glean from Facebook that he has strong penchant for guns and some serious anger issues. One of his neighbors applies for the same position: young, master’s degree from UNC-CH, computer savvy and no kids. Hopefully you’ll ignore any physical appearance, but who are you going to hire? Who will pay attention to race or religion and pick Hicks first?

An angry, unemployed middle-aged man, surrounded by educated, privileged young professionals, it’s easy to imagine HIcks’ alienation. Now mix in guns and fear (most guns per capita of any country). Try to explain to a foreigner how an angry man (of any race) can stand in your doorway, lift up his shirt to show his gun and the police cannot take that gun away.

Charlie Hileman


Too easily satisfied

Ned Barnett’s column “What endures at UNC-Chapel Hill” (N&O, March 8) invited the reader to wallow in a warm bath of nostalgia and to embrace unfounded optimism about the university as a “moral center.”

Barnett is apparently quite happy with the university’s official response to the academic fraud detailed by the Wainstein report: “the university’s suffering has tested its character” and “administrators have been forced out,” he said. Barnett is too easily satisfied.

The really top people have gone unscathed: Why, for example, have St. Roy (Williams) and St. Sylvia (Hatchell) not been asked to account for the benefits their basketball players may have received from the “paper courses” system? The head coaches’ sufferings seem rather limited compared with the career devastation endured by their colleagues lower down the university food chain.

And sorry, Ned, but watching a heartwarming videotape of the 1993 University Day celebrations just doesn’t make me feel any better.

R.A. Haskell

Chapel Hill

Listening not enough

Re: Vicki Boyer's letter on March 8, about Lee Storrow's “listening sessions”:

I agree that is is refreshing to have a council member willing to listen. I wish that Mr. Storrow would listen to constituents when they speak to him at public hearings. On key votes, he has ignored constituents and voted for projects that result in no affordable housing and no stormwater mitigation, and that use taxpayer money to subsidize infrastructure expenses that should be the developer's responsibility.

Holding a gripe session may make people feel good, but taking to heart constituents' concerns and voting to show he has taken them seriously would be more effective.

Nancy Oates

Chapel Hill

A day like this

I had gone to Bob Evans in Chapel Hill to treat my daughter and three grandchildren to breakfast. My daughter saw a group of over six service women and men eating breakfast and wanted to pay for their meal in thanking them for their service. She saw “American Sniper” and thought of her brother who is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves and did two tour of duty and suffered PTSS.

To my surprise someone paid for our meal. I want to thank them for this gesture. M daughter has a handicapped 23-year-old on life support and a step daughter who’s mentally challenged. A day like this certainly brightens everything! Thank you.

Dorothy Slaughter


Second-class students

This year, our local school district houses its Newcomers Program for ESL students at Carrboro High School in a room that safely holds only 22 students according to the Fire Department. However, throughout first semester the district has crammed in up to 28 students, continuing to mistreat nonnative English speakers as proverbial second-class citizens. It rationalizes that the best it can do is purchase smaller desks and hope daily attendance falls below 23 whenever the authorities randomly visit. Surely the district can do better for its students than offer excuses.

Barbara A. Nagler

Chapel Hill

Show some respect

I want to praise all of the school districts around us for choosing not to use Memorial Day as a weather makeup day. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will have class again this year on Memorial Day. They say that they had no choice. Other districts made the choice to preserve Memorial Day as the federal holiday that honors and shows respect for our one million plus war dead. So what does having school on Memorial Day (again) say about us as a community?

Fred Black

Chapel Hill

Under attack

Regarding the news article “Closing centers, tuition hike moves forward” (N&O, Feb. 27): The UNC Board of Governors approved a 4.3 percent tuition hike across UNC campuses and closed important research centers. While raises for faculty are welcome, the message is clear. The university, a public good, a space of independent inquiry, an incubator for the next generation of engaged residents, is under attack.

The Board of Governors doesn’t need more tuition to pay instructors fairly. Instead, it should reprioritize teaching and learning systemwide by dedicating a higher percentage of funds to instruction.

As a teaching assistant at UNC, I am part of a group of employees working for an unlivable wage. In fact, I received food stamps until I could find part-time work in addition to my teaching, coursework and research.

My story isn’t unique. More than 100 faculty and students gathered at Wilson Library recently to protest UNC’s low pay rate. According to Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, UNC spent only 26 percent of its revenue on instruction last year, a 20 percent decrease from 10 years ago.

We must have the courage to stand against attacks against our public institutions. We must reinvest in the workers struggling to make ends meet, who make these institutions great.

C. Martin Caver

Chapel Hill

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