CHAPEL HILL, NC—Six weeks into his freshman year, ethnically ambiguous freshman Michael Laurence continues to be well liked amongst his acquaintances and classmates.
Laurence, who grew up in Holly Springs, North Carolina, and whose peers describe him as “tan and sort of Hawaiian-looking,” was welcomed into the Carolina community almost immediately upon arriving in Chapel Hill.
“I really like hanging out with Mike,” said Greg Damascus, a freshmen biology major who has teamed up with Laurence to work on the Carolina Microfinance Initiative in the Campus Y. “He really adds a different perspective to our meetings, you know? His background just gives him a lot of cultural knowledge that we’re, like, pretty sure we’ll be able to tap into.”
Upperclassmen have also taken a liking to Laurence, who is a frequent invitee to off-campus gatherings and events.
“Mike came to my house for a party last week,” said Brianna Corcoran, junior Global Studies major. “He seemed super pumped when I was telling him about how I’m studying abroad in New Delhi next semester. Hopefully he can give me some insider tips.
“He’s Indian, right?” she added.
According to Laurence’s Ehringhaus suitemates, their ethnically ambiguous friend has taken them to Cosmic Cantina on Franklin numerous times since the start of the year. Laurence will often use Spanish to ask the cashier how he is doing.
“It’s really cool to see Mike get in touch with his roots,” said Laurence’s roommate Brian Meacham. “I think Cosmic is just a little taste of home for him. Those guys are probably great reminders of all the cool people he said goodbye to in Panama or wherever.”
Laurence’s ethnicity has been speculatively debated by some, especially small groups of undergraduate women at social gatherings. Laurence’s athleticism in particular, which he utilized on his high school’s lacrosse team and now on the UNC’s Darkside Ultimate Frisbee team, has emerged as a salient issue.
“It’s not that he couldn’t be certain ethnicities because he’s so athletic,” said sophomore history major Ashley Frankel, who feels confident that Laurence is Samoan. “But it means something, right? I’m not going to feel guilty for saying something that’s true. You know what I mean?”
Until now Laurence has remained oblivious to the intrigue surrounding his ethnicity, kept busy by photo shoots for UNC advertisements and brochures.