UNC-Chapel Hill was founded in 1789, just after the University of Georgia (1785), but it admitted students and offered classes starting in 1795 (UGA didn't hold classes until 1801). The original cornerstone is now part of Old East, the most sought-after dorm on campus. The university managed to stay open throughout the Civil War, and rebounded in 1875 after closing for several years during Reconstruction. It went co-ed in 1963.
Throughout its history, UNC continued to be on the leading edge of academic institutions, building the first astronomical observatory at a university in 1831, as well as establishing the nation’s first summer school in 1879. It is one of the eight institutions originally referred to as “Public Ivies.”
Any time the sun is shining, students can be found lounging under the Carolina blue sky on Polk Place, affectionately known as the Quad. Frisbees and footballs also fly here, but the competition is friendly. Those choosing to show off more serious skills will find themselves at home on Hooker Fields. Similarly, the Student Recreation Center offers an athletic outlet with a variety of free weights and exercise machines and frequent, free aerobics classes.
Students preferring to kick back rather than kickbox can enjoy a snack or drink at Alpine Bagel, located in the Student Union. With free refills, couches, and a television right nearby, Alpine is a great place to relax. The Campus Recreation Underground is also located in the Student Union, and offers pool and ping pong tables, board games, and a multipurpose area for dancing and other activities.
Undeniably the center of campus and where everything happens, the Pit is literally a brick area sunken down a few steps in between Lenoir dining hall, the student union, student stores, and the undergraduate library. It is said that if you sit there long enough you will see every student on campus. All the clubs set up tables in the pit for whenever they are promoting something and often there’s music or some fun activity going on. Bored students will head there between classes to sit along the edge and meet new people or run into friends.
Though not quite a hangout, the Graham Memorial is the best napping spot hands-down on campus. Not many people find out about it until late in the game, but is well worth getting there early in the day to score one of the massive brown leather sofas that look like they came out of some baron’s private study. Home to the Honors program, this building on the tip of North Campus has an interior worthy of a mansion, with wood paneling, walk-in fireplaces, fancy sofas, and wingback armchairs, and the building has a large back patio as well as a mini-Starbucks in the corner.
The Undergraduate Library, or UL, is where most undergrads go to study as it houses the biggest computer lab on campus. Printing is available 24 hours a day. Davis graduate library, or just Davis, is five floors larger with plenty of tables and study rooms. Some find it easier to study there, and others just use it for the unofficial tradition of having sex in Davis before they graduate (don’t go in a study room that has a sheet of paper over the window and make sure to escape before the library closes at midnight).
Chapel Hill, population 50,000, is very much a college town: everything centers around the university. It was chartered in 1851 and named in honor of New Hope Chapel, an institution built on land that is now home to the Carolina Inn, an elegant hotel and restaurant. The town is renowned for its superb school system as well as its thriving arts community—musicians such as James Taylor and Ben Folds began their careers here. Chapel Hill also makes noise with its famous Southern cuisine and is home to Mama Dip’s Restaurant and A Southern Season.
Residents are generally well-off and friendly towards students, who tend to enjoy living off-campus there and spending three nights a week on Franklin Street. Carrboro, the neighboring town, is Chapel Hill’s more liberal, artsy, and political sibling where many students also choose to live. Raleigh, the state capital, is about 25 minutes away and has a more downtown city feel. Duke, NC State, NC Central, Elon, and Meredith Colleges are all within easy driving distance.
With a campus chock full of creative minds, UNC students have no problem finding ways to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. One unofficial school tradition is the “Naked Library Run,” in which a group of students provides some comic relief during the hectic studying period before exams begin by streaking through the Undergraduate Library. What started as a surprise is now an eagerly anticipated event, and it has the added benefit of boosting library attendance. Those who don’t want to get too close to the action can always check out the run on YouTube.
Tar Heels express themselves in plenty of other ways as well, and this is illustrated best following sports victories. Basketball wins against Duke seem to inspire a pyromaniacal spirit in the student body, and it is a guarantee that something will burn, usually in Fraternity Court. UNC students, when they celebrate, bring a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘fired up.’
Another less destructive tradition often associated with success in sports is rushing Franklin Street. While championships or rivalry wins are usually the only acceptable impetus for a full-campus Franklin rush, the tradition is so revered as a celebration tactic that the phrase ‘Let’s rush Franklin!’ is a permanent part of some students’ vocabulary. While usually used facetiously, as in, “I just passed my physics exam! Let’s rush Franklin!,” it is understood to be an expression of enthusiasm.
Lewis Black (1975) is an actor and comedian.
Michael Easley (1972) is the current governor of North Carolina.
John Edwards (1974) is a former United States Senator and presidential candidate.
Andy Griffith (1949) played the titular characters on “The Andy Griffth Show” and “Matlock.”
Mia Hamm (1993) is a former soccer player and one of the world’s most famous female athletes.
Michael Jordan (attended) is a former NBA star.
James K. Polk (1818) was the 11th President of the United States.
Tar Heels take their Division I athletics seriously, especially Men’s Basketball.
Boasting five NCAA championships and 17 ACC titles, the organization has many notable alumni, such as Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and Bob McAdoo. However, many other Tar Heel teams enjoy similar success and popularity, such as the baseball team, which has reached the College World Series for two consecutive years, and the women’s soccer team, which has won 18 NCAA titles, most recently in 2006.
Although UNC students have called themselves Tar Heels since the Civil War, so named because Carolinians stand and fight, their mascot since 1924 has been Ramses the ram.
Several U.S. Presidents have addressed UNC students on the annual University Day, including John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Michael Jordan still holds the record for most points in a UNC game.
The state of North Carolina is the original home of Krispy Kreme donuts and Pepsi-Cola.
UNC has a wide variety of housing options on campus, ranging from single-room apartments to sprawling suites. Residence halls are spread out across North, Middle, and South campuses, so students have the ability to find a convenient location if all of their classes are in the same cluster of buildings.
South Campus is traditionally almost all underclassmen in high-rise, suite-style dorms. These dorms are currently undergoing renovation, so some are still exactly the same as they were in 1960—no AC, no carpet—but the new ones are extremely nice and fully up to date with the 21st century. The walk to class is about 15 minutes, but there is a new dining hall, new gym, and a multitude of other brand new academic resource buildings are right there—as is the Dean Dome for basketball games. Below south campus are the two-year-old apartment communities, Odum Village, Ram Village, and Baity Hill. These are mostly for upperclassmen who choose not to live off campus. The freshest facade on South Campus is Morrison, which recently re-opened after two years of renovations and features "super suites" on floors eight through ten. Similarly, Ram Village was completed in 2006 and is a favorite for its luxurious rooms and proximity to the Dean Dome as well as the Rams Head Recreation Center and Dining Hall.
Middle Campus consists of just a few dorms right around the football stadium, other athletic fields, and gyms. Many athletes are placed in these dorms for convenience. They are a mix of suite- and hall-style, and are generally bigger rooms than those on South Campus. A few of these are also undergoing renovation. Classes are a roughly 5-minute walk, and the dorms are about equidistant from both dining halls.
North Campus is the cream of the crop: the dorms are nicer and classes are closer. Freshmen usually steer away from them because South Campus is freshman central, and it's a lot easier to meet fellow newbies down there (South Campus dorms also go wild on the weekends). However, the school is trying to move freshmen to North Campus, which are all hall-style dorms because they think it's easier to meet more people in a giant hall rather than one suite.
North Campus boasts five housing communities, each of which is comprised of several dorms in close proximity to one another. The Connor Community, for example, is made up of Connor, Alexander, Winston, Joyner, and Whitehead. Each community hosts special events throughout the year, such as Connor’s ‘Connorstock,’ an evening of free food, music and entertainment.
Almost all North Campus dorms have been under recent renovation and are like actual rooms on the inside, compared to the cinder block walls of old South Campus. Old East and Old West are the two original buildings dating back to the 1700s. These are by far the nicest—and coolest—dorms on campus; gigantic inside with old wooden floors, they are in high demand.