By Zoe Hazerjian
In 1793, the Town of Chapel Hill was created to serve the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, Chapel Hill has grown into a lively college town, but try to imagine Chapel Hill without UNC, and it becomes clear that life would be very different.
A distinguishing feature of Chapel Hill is its basketball rivalries, largely with Duke, but also with NC State. If UNC were not here, many of those crazy fans would be cheering for another school instead of painting themselves Tar Heel blue, a color that is a symbol for the University and Chapel Hill itself.
Chapel Hill’s population is largely made up of college kids, in fact, 51 percent of Chapel Hill’s total population is UNC students, according to townofchapelhill.org. With such a large amount of young people, our politics are hugely affected. North Carolina has almost exclusively voted Republican since 1968; however, Democrats have slowly been gaining popularity, making the margin of winning votes for Republicans smaller and smaller. In 2008, Barack Obama reversed the trend of Republican dominance in our state, defeating John McCain for the presidency by a slim 2 percent. Since UNC and other NC colleges have brought in students that tend to be on the Democratic side, this made North Carolina a swing state in the 2012 election.
Not only do the college students’ political views make an impact on the state, but the highly ranked and desirable campus also brings in people and groups from around the world that would not otherwise come to Chapel Hill.
UNC has become a cultural center, attracting artists and performers from all over the world to perform at places like Memorial Hall and PlayMakers Theater. Without UNC to attract Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Bela Fleck, people would have to travel farther to go to quality plays, concerts and exhibits.
Chapel Hillians also benefit from the wonderful public transportation system. Chapel Hill Transit is the largest public, fare-free system in the United States, serving nearly a third of Chapel Hill’s population year round. Buses, which became fare-free in January 2002, now transport people across campus into Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Many people take advantage of this great system, but if 51 percent of the population were removed from Chapel Hill, there would be a possibility that the buses would not be fare-free, and Chapel Hill wouldn’t have as many bus stops as it does.
Chapel Hill and UNC complement and support each other and are vital as a unit for long-term survival and success.