North Carolina Campus Puzzled by New York Times Portrayal

Feb 10, 2010 5:01pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Lauren McGaha blogs: Still searching for that perfect valentine? A recent New York Times article suggests women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and several other colleges and universities, might struggle to find a date on campus this year.
The article, which discusses the 60:40 ratio of female to male students on UNC’s campus, talks to some women about their frustrations with their lack of dating options. But does it go too far?
“It makes us sound desperate,” said UNC junior Alison Amoroso. “Yes, as a journalism major, I see more females in my classes, but there’s definitely a male presence on campus. You can find them everywhere: in clubs, roaming around the quad, in all of our fraternities on campus. It’s not that bad.”
But just how bad is it? Does the average woman at UNC spend hours dolling herself up for a night out that “has everything – except guys?” Does the ratio on campus really leave her in fear that she’ll be “left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box?” Must she settle for the man who has most likely dated several of her friends because the men “willing to make a commitment come with storied romantic histories?”
Many women at UNC are saying the article did not accurately represent North Carolina’s female population.
“Women at UNC are not frustrated with the ratio on campus,” said junior journalism major Mia Moore. “We’re frustrated with the men on this campus. And some of the girls in that article made it sound like we let guys get away with treating us badly – that’s preposterous!”
Emily Kennard, a junior at UNC, was quoted in the Times article as saying that women on campus knowingly stay with men who cheat on them to avoid the reality of being alone.  Now she’s upset with the backlash.
“I’m a little disheartened by how people are treating me now,” Kennard said. “That was taken completely out of context and I regret having said it. Of course, I don’t tolerate cheating in a relationship. What I was trying to say is that unfortunately, I do know of people who tolerate cheating. But I know people on many campuses who deal with this – it’s not just a UNC thing.”
Kennard, along with two others quoted in the article, drafted a response expressing their complaints and sent it to the New York Times.
“Alex Williams had 'The New Math on Campus' agenda planned before his arrival in Chapel Hill, misrepresenting quotations and those interviewed,” they write. “Mr. Williams interviewed dozens of people at three different bars, yet only quotes partial worst case scenario statements to paint his image. Manufacturing controversy and disrespecting willing interviewees is a bad long-term business plan, as well as an affront to honest journalists everywhere.”
Williams spoke about his article in an interview published yesterday in The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper, saying he felt the pool of people he interviewed were representative of UNC’s student body.
“I talked to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, science majors and liberal arts majors, people who said they dated a lot and people who said they didn’t,” Williams said. “I’ve heard from lots of people who loved the piece, lots of people who didn’t. That’s kind of what you anticipate with a piece like this.”
And while the article did spark plenty of chatter from women on campus, some men don’t deny the odds seem to be skewed in their favor.
“Guys definitely have the upper hand in dating here,” UNC senior business major Michael Smith said.  “I have a ton of female friends who complain about this issue all the time.”
UNC’s Director of Admissions Stephen Farmer says UNC’s male to female ratio is nothing new. In fact, the schools has had an approximately 60:40 split for nearly 30 years. Yet, the New York Times article claims UNC at times feels “eerily like a women’s college.”
“I think this line from the story is both silly and odd,” Farmer said. “Silly because there are roughly 7,500 undergraduate men at UNC, and odd because of the choice of the word ‘eerily.’”
But even with the uneven ratio, Farmer says he doubts future students will be deterred from the university.
“The sun has continued to rise and set,” Farmer said. “Great women and men have continued to apply and enroll. So I feel good about our chances.”

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