UNCW students stage bathroom sit-in along with other UNC system schools

UNCW student protesters hold up homemade signs at the UNC system-wide bathroom sit-in against controversial House Bill 2.

Noah Thomas | Assistant Sports Editor

For a second straight week, the UNC Wilmington community staged a protest to voice its discontent with North Carolina’s newly enacted, controversial House Bill 2, but this time they took the protesting straight to fellow students.

Across the UNC system, students staged bathroom sit-ins on campus Friday, Apr. 8, with UNCW students protesting at the first floor bathrooms in Morton Hall.

Signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory on March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly’s HB 2 generated immediate backlash from North Carolinians and citizens throughout the United States.

In the weeks since the bill became law, multiple companies and state governments have taken measures to disassociate themselves with North Carolina. PayPal made it known last week that it would be abandoning plans to bring more than 400 jobs to the Tar Heel state because of HB 2.

Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Bruce Springsteen even announced the cancellation of multiple concerts in Greensboro in response to the new law.

Many critics of HB 2 have pointed to instances such as these to capture the potential negative effects it will have on the state’s economy.

Organized in part by sophomore Becki Fernandez, the sit-in drew the attention of nearly twenty students and faculty members. Complete with signs and chants of “no hate in our state,” all who attended were steadfast in their approach to letting the public know why they were there.

“[We’re here] to stand in solidarity with the LGBT students in the UNC system,” explained Fernandez. “This is part of a statewide university protest today to demonstrate against HB 2 and that we do not want this and that we consider it a threat to our safety.”

A large turnout occurred at Appalachian State University on Friday, where more than 100 students stood together in Boone for reasons important to them both personally and ethically.

The protestors were all glad that across the UNC system and state as a whole, not only college students, but also organizers and communities are fighting back against HB 2, according to Fernandez, and feel as though they will keep fighting this until it is repealed.

Other UNCW students, such as sophomore Prajan Marhatta, stated he was worried about the possibility of HB2 setting a precedent for other states to sign discrimination into law.

“It’s like allowing a floodgate of discrimination,” said Marhatta. “To me, it’s like opening a Pandora’s Box of discrimination not only towards transgender people, but the whole LGBT community.”

The night before the protest, recently appointed UNC System President Margaret Spellings announced that the UNC System will be following and enforcing HB 2. The UNC System, which is comprised of 16 college campuses and a residential high school, including UNCW, runs the risk of losing federal funding for the state’s public education.

Samantha Bisese, a graduate student in UNCW’s English department, told The Seahawk she believes HB 2 does not represent how a majority of modern society feels about these issues.

“I feel like this is a very backwards law,” she said. “It isn’t actively reflecting our times and how we’re moving forward with these kinds of rights and issues.”

As the potential economic and societal impacts of HB 2 begin border the line between the hypothetical and reality, an increase in opinions over the controversial law will be shared publicly. UNCW students like Fernandez, Bisese, and Marhatta just hope that other students and community members join in voicing these opinions.