Piracy on the Increase in Academia
April 19, 2005
Those of you who, like me, are concerned about issues of piracy in the modern age have good reason to worry, as pirates have evidently taken over the student government of North Carolina State University. Fox News is reporting that a gentleman named The Pirate Captain was just elected president of NCSU’s student body. He wears a beard, a Seinfeld-esque “puffy shirt,” an eyepatch, and sometimes a parrot. The Pirate Captain, who as a landlubber once carried the name of Will Piavis, seems, unlike most pirates, to be a fan of representative democracy, and he and his “scurvy crew” (his words) have a real platform of student issues. Here’s his position (from “The Plank” on his website) on a “sunshine” rule that would open meetings to the public, as well as planned tuition increases:
Alas, wae at The Pirate Captain election deck understand yer worries ’bout the runnin of this place o’leanin. That’s why wae bae plannin’ on holding meetin’s open to all yae landlubbers. We bae ready to cover the rising amount of doubloons it takes to bae here at this schoolin’ amongst other issues o’concern.
I am not kidding; his entire website is like this. And he got 58% of the vote.
I bring this to your attention not merely because it’s funny and because I was in a high school production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” (their greatest work, in my opinion), but because NCSU’s administration seems to be taking it in stride rather than trying to crack down on a student government that might not be exactly what they were hoping for (à la Occidental College). According to Fox, NCSU Vice Chancellor Tom Stafford told a Raleigh TV station that “The reaction to a person’s leadership depends on how they carry out their leadership responsibilities.” That’s as it should be. An essential part of freedom is the freedom not to take everything so seriously—and make no mistake, this freedom is under attack on many college campuses along with freedoms of religion, speech, and so on. Most people don’t spend their days measuring all of their words for offense, appropriateness, etc. When colleges punish students merely for saying things that afterwards they wish they hadn’t said, it often leads to absurd miscarriages of justice that make the college look bad, not the student. For a great example of this, check out the case of University of New Hampshire student Tim Garneau.
Oh, and by the way, here’s my favorite photo from the Captain’s website.