CHAPEL HILL, NC—The search continues today for Honors Carolina’s tangible benefits, which vanished sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on February 15th, 2002.
Honors Carolina, a program designed to facilitate the advancement of UNC-Chapel Hill’s best students, refused to comment on the missing benefits saying they could not discuss an ongoing investigation.
But, in what has now become a famous YouTube video, Professor James Leloudis, Associate Dean of Honors, can be seen telling an Honors Carolina student to keep quiet about benefits’ disappearance.
“Don’t you go asking the questions you don’t want answered. Ya heard?” Leloudis said to one freshman interested in how Honors Carolina could help him do research. “There ain’t nothing you need to be asking about. Go on and get out of here, you asking too many questions. Scram, boy.”
Since the video’s release almost three years ago, the benefits have not been found.
According to police reports, the benefits were last seen helping UNC alumnus and biology major Jack Rickler get into a smaller section of Chemistry 102.
Since their disappearance, the sole benefit of being accepted into Honors Carolina has been the requirement to take Honors classes, in which any UNC student can enroll. Sources close to the investigation made it clear that Honors Carolina students receive no ‘Honors’ distinction on their diplomas.
“We just don’t know where the benefits went,” said an Honors Carolina student speaking anonymously. “We thought, ‘They can help with scholarships,’ or ‘It’ll help me get a job,’ but then you discover that all the successful people on the Honors Carolina website are just Morehead-Cain Scholars who have to be in the program.”
“I’m scared we’ll never see the benefits again,” she said.
Students in the Honors program have looked all over campus, concentrating their search near Graham Memorial Hall, the benefits’ last know place of residence, but all has so far been in vain.
“Everywhere we expected to find the benefits–whether it was connecting with professors, taking smaller classes, or exploring unique opportunities at Carolina–they just aren’t there,” said Sarah Chang, a student in the Honors program. “We haven’t even found a single alumnus who can remember seeing them during his or her time at Carolina. It’s disheartening.”
Orange County Police Commissioner Greg North said his force’s investigation has been likewise fruitless, but new evidence in the case might open things up.
“We never ruled out the possibility of foul play,” said North. “And our evidence now suggests that UNC’s administration may have known Honors Carolina’s benefits had vanished long before reporting the disappearance.”
Responding to her office’s implication in the investigation, Chancellor Folt delivered a firm denial.
“It’s preposterous to think that we would go on advertising Honors Carolina as an excellent opportunity after finding out that all of its benefits had disappeared,” she stressed.
“Also, just again, the main point is come to UNC! We understand that you think you are better than our school, but if you come here, you can tell everyone back home you got into the Honors program, which will give you special opportunities,” she said. “We just have to find them.”
Some students at UNC say they are not convinced. Melissa Gabriel, who is currently working–through the comparative literature department and independent of Honors Carolina–to complete her senior honors thesis on notions of gender in the poetry of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore and Ada Negri, is leading a movement of students who believe UNC’s administration is part of a cover-up.
“I don’t think they ever even came to this school,” she said, referring to the missing benefits. “I haven’t been able to reach a single honors alumnus to comment on whether being in the honors program helped them do anything except feel better than other students.”
To boost student’s spirits, the Honors Carolina staff will be hosting a screening of Shutter Island in Graham Memorial this Thursday night at 7 p.m.. The proceeds will be dedicated to the ongoing search.