War Over Water

Guest Post by Matt Compton

With all the trouble between the Town and the University lately, it seems funny that storm-water runoff would be the controversy that puts the two entities in court, facing off against each other, but that seems as if it will be precisely what happens unless either University Administrators or the Town Council decide to back down from a fight over the issue.

As for me, while I think the University is being unduly stubborn about this, the layman in me believes that Carolina has a case for going it alone. If UNC has a separate pipe system and a separate permit from the town, then it would not seem reasonable to ask the University to make a significant contribution to the Town's plan. And it is certainly wrongheaded for the Town to pursue Councilman Ward's plan to include projections including a University contribution into a budget for the Town's storm-water plan before any sort of agreement is reached.

But the question I'm really interested in getting answers to is this: How does this current dispute fit into the greater context of Town-Gown relations?

Matt Compton is a senior History major at UNC and an Orange County native. Check out his blogs at www.unc.edu/~mattcomp/blog.html and www.tabulas.com/~mattcompton.



The article wasn't advocating for corportizing the university. It was talking about the changing role of the university. My point in sharing it was to point out that the clashing relationship between the university and the town over the stormwater utility is partly a function of the changing nature of higher ed. In the past, the university has maintained itself as a closed community, the intellectual enclave. In that role, they've created their own storm water management plan. But to the town, the university is a public entity, another corporate body that should act responsibility and contribute to the public utilities. It's a conflict borne out of change, like the whole concept of Carolina North.

that article is a bit skewed.

Of course our local U. is being run more and more like a corporation than a public scholarly entity.

It is no coincidence Caro. North will house endeavors capable of receiving federal indirect grant funds or private corporate sponsor ship. The lack of humanities and social science has little to do with educational value.

Public education is given as a subsidized benefit to those who could not afford it otherwise and is not charged the highest possible tuitionrate it can get - despite the trustees desire.

If we run our universities like pure corporations poor people will never go to them and teaching will be less and less valued than it already is.

Salary desparity's between rank and file staff faculty and high level administrators and chairs is becoming more corporate though. With numerous people making 10 or more times the lowest paid workers.

Our aspirations should not be to corporatize Universiities. Our US Universiites have probably seen their highest relative world ranking and dominance and will continue to decline as our secondary education worsens (on a global level) and we make more Corporate U's where kids who pay high tuition can not get low grades because they make the system go round. Much as investment bankers had strong buy ratings on stocks to get there banking business. No one pays 30,000 a year for their kid to get Bs or Cs.

Good questions Matt. What I've been trying to figure out lately is how the changing demographics of Chapel Hill relate to the town-gown relationship. Chapel Hill isn't really a university town anymore. We're a town with a university rather than a community of university employees who live and work together. Why should the non-university residents care about the university--the university doesn't play any significant economic or social role in their lives. It's not as if Chapel Hill wouldn't exist without the university since it's no longer the major employer for local residents.

On the other hand, the university is responding to external pressures that are affecting higher ed institutions around the country. To better understand those issues, I'd recommend an article entitled: A University is Not a Business (and Other Fantasies): http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0420.asp (this may only be available to those who have campus proxy access).

It seems to me that UNC's response to Carolina North, campus expansions, and now the stormwater utility are reflective of the social pressures on higher ed to maintain some of their historical independence while becoming more financially accountable. It seems almost inevitable that the town-gown relationship would change as a result of these other changes. But I don't like the conflict.

surprised to read town manager horton recommended suing the U.

If I remember correctly the decision to make the stormwater utility funded by taxes or fees came up and the manager said fees would apply to the U.

If Unc doesn't have to pay it seems a fee is more regressive than a tax based on property value (with the generality that larger houses generate more runoff and will pay more taxes. I'm sure there are exceptions but a fee with a low end flat rate seems more regressive than need be.

perhaps someone can enlighten me on the difference between a tax and fee in this case?


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.