FROM THE HILL
Pit Preacher Moves Off His Stage After Conflict
ABible in hand, Gary Birdsong has gan, expedition program manager for the they told me I couldn’t preach there nei-preached at universities across the group.“I might as well go home if he was ther,” Birdsong said. He was asked to move
U.S., including campuses in Cali- going to be preaching in front of my stuff.” again, and when he did not, he was cited.
fornia and Arizona, at N.C. State Univer- Only a few feet in front of Yeargan’s “I said I’ve been preaching here since
sity and Carolina, he says, encouraging stu- tent, Birdsong was preaching about homo- 1980 on campus,” he said, adding that at
dents to read the Bible and giving them a sexuality, Yeargan said, specifically a drag other times when there had been a reserva-testimony of his faith. show, and he thought the preacher’s words tion conflict, he had complied with
As of March, Birdsong — a former were not helping draw support for his requests for him to move.
Hells Angels member and the most promi- group. Birdsong said students were encouraging
nent Pit preacher at Carolina since 1980 — Birdsong said public safety officers told him to stand up for his First Amendment
was not preaching in the Pit. him to go to the other side of the Pit to right to free speech, which he felt had been
On March 8, Birdsong was escorted preach. “So I went on the other side, and violated.
from the Pit on a trespassing violation
issued by the University’s Department of
After refusing to move from in front of
a reserved space held by the outdoor group
Carolina Adventures, Birdsong was banned
from setting foot on the campus for two
years under a state trespassing statute, said
Randy Young, information specialist for
DPS. Birdsong appealed the citation and
can preach on campus but not in the Pit or
on its surrounding steps.
Carolina Adventures had acquired a permit from the Carolina Union to use the
space to advertise its spring trip. “I asked him
if he could go somewhere else because people couldn’t see my stuff,” said David Year-
THE DAILY TAR HEEL/JAMES MINDIA
Gary Birdsong at his new locale outside Davis Library.
UNC law Professor Bill Marshall said
regulations on free
speech that regulate
the time, place or
manner of certain
speech are legal.
Birdsong was back
the following Tuesday, speaking a few
yards from the Pit.
He said he plans
to contest his restriction from the area.
“I got a right to
preach in the Pit,” he
Academic continued from page 3
sons to come to college is to be challenged
in the classroom, and there’s a lot of ways
in which this can be done.”
The student advisory committee took
care to distinguish between “academic freedom” and “academic responsibility” in its
summary of the issue. Students are free to
hold any opinion in the academic setting, it
noted, but they’re not guaranteed the right
to present “careless opinion in the classroom without evidence or support.”
“We talked about it from the standpoint
of academic responsibility instead of academic freedom because as students in the
University and faculty in the University we
are not free to say anything [we] want in the
classroom without being [held] up to various
standards of scholarly inquiry,” Phelps said.
This is part of a nationwide debate in
which the term “academic freedom” is a
hot phrase, Phelps said. “There’s a national
trend to talk about academic responsibility
and academic freedom, and it’s generally a
movement that is led by conservative commentators like David Horowitz.”
“We focused our discussion not on
whether or not bias existed but on the classroom environment and what the University
was doing to ensure that a scholarly and
healthy atmosphere existed in the UNC
classroom,” Phelps added in an e-mail.
Glenn Ricketts, public affairs director for
the National Association of Scholars, said
there’s a conformist streak among intellectuals today, so that students and professors
are feeling pressure to limit academic debate
to streamlined views. “I think students are
increasingly feeling they have to regurgitate
what professors want,” he said.
The committee will not be the
“thought police,” Allred said. Carolina’s discussion of academic responsibility will be
limited to the conduct of discussion, and
won’t include the content of professors’
speech, he said. “We teach evolution in a
biology class. We’re not going to require
faculty to teach intelligent design as a
Read these stories in detail in From The Hill
Online at alumni.unc.edu
■ Education school Dean Thomas
James is leaving Carolina for a top position at Columba University.
■ UNC continues to post high rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s surveys
of graduate schools, now in its 20th year.
The schools of public health, medicine and
nursing are in the top five of their fields.
■ “The best one-night stand you’ll
ever have” also was a big night for the
N.C. Children’s Hospital on the Carolina
campus. The annual Dance Marathon set
■ The University has launched the
UNC Institute for the Environment,
putting up $11 million in public and private money to add new degree programs,
research sites and outreach initiatives aimed
at solving problems associated with health
and the environment.