Tancredo return to UNC goes quietly

Tom Tancredo

April 27, 2010 4:03:49 AM PDT
A former congressman returned to Chapel Hill Monday night -- one year after his appearance sparked disruptive protests on campus.

During Republican Tom Tancredo's last visit, a window was broken at a campus building and several people were arrested. Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, left campus after being there only five minutes.

Unlike last year, there was no violence Monday night.

Tancredo was invited to speak at UNC's campus again by Youth for Western Civilization.

"I think it's a low blow by the university and it's completely incredible, completely insane," Scott Williams with Students for a Democratic Society said.

"We're really opposed to the idea of our school supporting Tom Tancredo and his racist views coming here," UNC Junior Ellen Louis said.

Tancredo spoke for about 35 minutes before starting an almost hour long question-answer session.

About 100 people were initially in the audience, but about two-thirds of the audience left in protest after chanting 10 minutes into the program.

"I understand we may not have all of you here by the end, but that's okay," Tancredo said.

Before the event, Dean of Students Melissa Exum repeated the event ground rules about disruptive behavior affecting Tancredo's ability to speak or be heard.

She said that anyone ignoring that warning would be warned. Then those who did not comply would be escorted out of the building by university police.

Officials say no one at the event displayed any signs, though the ground rules permitted ticket holders to display handheld banners or signs in designated sections of the auditorium.

In a press release, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said he was glad that Tancredo made his presentation and could take questions from the audience.

He also said he applauded the "protesters, including students and members of the campus community, who expressed themselves peacefully, in keeping with the University's traditions."

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