Your letters

January 24, 2014 

Our self deception

As P.J. Hairston, a former UNC basketball player, follows his path into adulthood, let’s wish him the best.

Many likely agree that driving recklessly or without a license are behaviors that are not consistent with the character that we expect from UNC students, especially athletes who represent the university in such a public way.

We would be failing our students, however, if we agreed that the whole story can be reduced to a statement by Roy Williams, that “all of us in life pay for our actions and these are some very difficult consequences that he’s paid for his actions.”

Mr. Hairston was part of a system of big time sports that also bears responsibility and that desperately needs correction.

In the words of the NCAA it supports “The collegiate model of athletics in which students participate as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.” The profit sports of basketball and football generate millions upon millions of dollars for coaches, ever more glamorous and luxurious stadiums and training facilities, and scholarships for classmates in non-revenue sports. The only amateurs in this so-called collegiate model are the players whose skills generate such vast sums. Basketball and football players participate in so many hours of practice, travel, and games that it is hardly accurate to say that these students are engaged in an avocation, but rather a vocation for which they are not fairly paid. Does anyone really believe that the profit athletes from basketball and football have the opportunity to “balance their academic, social and athletics experiences?” Given the hypocrisy and injustice of the NCAA system, the wonder is that more athletes don’t engage in the behaviors shown by Mr. Hairston. In addition, what responsibility do the coaches bear and more importantly what consequences do they bear when their adolescent men go astray?

We regret that P.J. Hairston behaved as he did. Perhaps in his own way, he was speeding away from an unfair, painful system over which he and all other revenue athletes frustratingly have no say. Let’s hope that he has friends and mentors that remind him of his responsibilities to himself and others. But as a university community, a community for which a fundamental responsibility is to facilitate the often complicated pathway from adolescence to adulthood, we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that the whole story here is that one young man has paid for his actions with very difficult consequences. Or sadly, perhaps, he is the only one who has paid.

Lewis Margolis

Chapel Hill

School resource officers effective, well respected

Amanda Young’s commentary about school resource officers (CHN, Jan. 12, was more than disappointing. She cites “studies” throughout the column, yet it appears she didn't bother visiting a school to observe or talk with teachers, administrators or officers.

I am a counselor at Riverside High School in Durham, and we are served by two well-respected and effective Durham County deputies: Officers Fox and Jobe. Our students could also have told Ms. Young about the roles the officers play in our school. Additionally, we have a Positive Behavior and Intervention Support program and it is routinely used by our caring, experienced teachers.

The reality is that some of our students have challenging socioeconomic backgrounds. They may lack in having basic needs met for adequate food and housing. Or, they may lack the fundamental skills to control impulses, and others deal with mental illness. In needed instances, we have officers vested in our school acting with clear guidelines from administrators as a necessary component to classroom/school management. So, many of Ms. Young’s “shoulds” are already in place. It is a disservice to readers she didn’t exercise more diligence investigating the reality of SROs in an area high school.

Catherine Sebring


SolarBee Band-Aid

When I drive to the coast, I pass many hog farms that have lagoons with aerators, and the smell is terrible. Whenever I read a story about using SolarBees in Jordan Lake (N&O,, I wonder whether this is what is to become of the lake. This solution does nothing to address the causes of the problem.

Several years ago I spent time in China, and I used to wonder how a country could let its water and air become so polluted. I now realize this is how it happens – little by little, incrementally over time.

I have watched as our streams and lakes have suffered from pollution and as signs have appeared warning us not to eat the fish. Is this really what we want to do to the environment and how we want to live?

Jim Merchant


Really bad idea

SolarBee’s Ken Hudnell, DENR’s Tom Reeder and Sen. Rich Gunn showed blatant disregard for public health in the news article “Can floating pumps save Jordan Lake?” (N&O,

The $1.44 million “no-bid” state contract to put 36 floating anti-algae aerators in the lake is a tremendously bad idea. These devices haven’t been very successful when used on even much smaller lakes. How can they possibly have any benefit in the immense 14,000-acre Jordan Lake?

The more likely impact of the SolarBees will be as navigational hazards to boaters and fishers, while degradation of water quality continues. Hopefully, damaged SolarBees won’t end up as more trash to be removed from the lake after a big flood.

The purpose of the stalled Jordan Lake rules is to reduce incoming nutrient pollution from all sources in the nearly 1,700-square-mile watershed above the lake. The statements that there’s no urgency in implementing the Jordan Lake rules and that nutrients in themselves are not a problem should sound an alarm to those who drink Jordan Lake’s waters as well as to residents of the Cape Fear River downstream.

We urge the EPA and U.S. Army Corps to step in and prevent this travesty.

Elaine Chiosso

Haw Riverkeeper, Haw River Assembly


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