LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Students work hard for their GPA, why take away the reward for it?

To whom it may concern,

I, Erin Gallagher, am writing this open letter to express my particular disappointment over the recent removal of the Chancellor’s Achievement Award. I and my peers can only regard this as a failure of UNCW to serve its brightest and most deserving students. I am not alone in this sentiment – many of my peers share it. It may seem melodramatic; however, when one sets a precedent such as this, it creates a very slippery slope along which one may easily fall further.

We pay enough money to UNCW; we work hard – even now when there is little incentive other than the raw will and internal drive which tells us we must be either be excellent or nothing at all. I, like so many of my wonderful peers, have overcome many personal and institutional obstacles. I have earned my keep and thus my place here, and continually work to ensure that I deserve its continuation. We have not come this far to have our recognition stolen from us in the name of “frugality” when clearly enough money can be spared so that UNCW can afford extravagant catering services and more than enough water in our already showers-prone area to keep the lawns green.

If at least only in name, retain the Chancellor’s Achievement Award. If you really must do away with its monetary award component, do so. We do not mind so much losing that as losing at least the knowledge that you, the institution to whom we will give at least four years of our life, of our energy, of our intelligence and spirit, have seen us and our work and know that it is worthy of a simple “well done.”

We are athletes. We are honor students. We are survivors of internal and external wars. We are Seahawks – but lately, you haven’t given us any reason to be proud of the latter. Your regrettable decision will steadily erode any pride the hardest workers take in their school. You can trust that if you keep this type of behavior up, some will take their achievements and bright minds elsewhere, where they will be appreciated. Others will simply make the decision to circumvent you and leave you out from the list of schools to which they will apply, and your student population in the long-run will degrade in quality.

I challenge you to rise to your touted and celebrated Soaring to Greatness Campaign. If you fail to do so, you and other decision-makers are giving mere lip-service to a truly worthy ideal and are slowly tearing down the heart of this institution which I perceived upon my entry into it as a beacon of light in a world where light is increasingly hard to come by.

The University of North Carolina is a leader; understand that you represent that system, the great State of North Carolina, and the United States higher education system. Be wary of communicating through your actions what many feel is true about that system: that it rewards few to none but takes from all. What you and other decision-makers have done concerning the removal of this Award is retroactive and destructive and I invite you to reconsider. In conclusion, I ask that you simply reinstate the Award, without the monetary component.

I thank you for your time and hope that you make the Seahawks proud with your leadership.


Erin Gallagher