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Reading story makes news

Reading program makes news
Reading program discussion leaders
Reading program takes on a plot line of its own
Anatomy of a controversy

If the furor over Carolina's Summer Reading Program has proven anything, it may be this: You can't judge a book by the way it is covered.

The book in question, "Approaching the Qur'án: The Early Revelations," for the campus and much of the country, is now familiar. Nearly everyone has read something about the book in recent weeks, including many people who may never get around to reading it.

Written by Michael Sells, a religion professor at Haverford College, the book seeks to offer accurate English translations of some of the oldest and poetic verses in the Quran, along with some analysis from Sells, as an introduction to the faith.

Since June, the book has received as much national attention as a "New York Times" bestseller.

But the book has been less the object of attention than the headlines and sound bites that have detailed the objections raised against it.
Those objections took many forms, beginning June 22 when the conservative Christian group called Family Policy Network (FPN) and three unidentified freshmen filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greensboro to stop the program.

The lawsuit contended the assignment was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of church and state. Requiring students to read the book, FPN officials argued, would be more an act of forced indoctrination than education. And the book presented only a "sanitized" look at Islam because it contained no reference to passages about "jihad" that have been used by some within the faith to both incite and justify violence.

On Aug. 7, the N.C. House Appropriations Committee added to its budget plan a provision barring the use of public funds to teach the book unless equal time was given to "all known religions."

Hours before the discussion groups were set to meet on Aug. 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., upheld a district court finding from a week before and denied the FPN's request for an injunction to prevent the discussion groups.

Chancellor James Moeser, who would later lead one of the discussions, could not have asked for a more appropriate venue to announce the ruling -- the ribbon cutting for the newly renovated House Undergraduate Library.

"Academic freedom is alive and well at Chapel Hill," Moeser told a crowd that spilled beyond the seated dignitaries into the Pit. The news was greeted by what may have been the loudest applause of the day.
The showdown was over, the show about to start.

The center of the storm
If the controversy swirling around the campus seemed to have the force of a hurricane, the classrooms where the discussion groups took place could be considered the eye of the storm.

No one could have predicted the level of publicity the assignment would cause, least of all Carl Ernst, the professor of religious studies who suggested it to the selection committee of faculty, staff and students that ultimately picked it for the Summer Reading Program.

This was, after all, the same kind of assignment that had been given previously to incoming classes over four consecutive years. This book, as with the other three books that preceded it, was all part of an effort initiated by former Chancellor Michael Hooker to enhance the intellectual climate on campus.

What was different about this book, of course, was that it was about Islam, assigned after Sept. 11, and the reaction to it throughout the country revealed the temper of the times.

Sixteen students, one day shy of their first official day in college, appeared in a first-floor classroom in Bingham Hall for their two-hour discussion with Ernst. It was one of 160 small groups across campus engaging in the same kind of discussion. The discussion led by Ernst was one of five sessions open to the media and others interested in observing.

For the most part, the students appeared composed. The only people in the room furiously scribbling notes were the reporters seated in the back rows. In some ways, the book had created a bigger writing assignment for them than it had for students. Ernst gave a quick glance at the reporters and said he would be excited if the next day's headlines read, "Students Read Books, Discuss Ideas."

"That's some real sensational stuff."

But what may have been most eventful about the two hours were how uneventfully they passed.

They played the CD that accompanied the book that featured texts sung or chanted in Arabic. Ernst asked the students to interpret the different moods chanters could evoke reading the same passage. Ernst talked about the difficulty translating the Quran from Arabic to English and how the meaning of the words could be shaped or amplified through the emotion by which they were sung or chanted.

Two of the more outspoken students were a Southern Baptist and a Hindu student from India. The Baptist said just because he believed in Jesus Christ did not mean he did not want to know more about Islam.
Ernst took time as well to talk about the controversy and explain the role he played in creating it. "I recommended the book and that sort of started the process of where we are today," Ernst said.

Ernst told students he expected there would be a stronger reaction than usual, but nothing on the order of the hubbub that developed.
That surprised him, he said, along with the criticisms that it was either teaching too much about the subject -- or too little.

In light of Sept. 11, Ernst told his students, the book was intended to serve as primer about the Quran. It was intended to get students thinking about Islam, not to tell them everything there is to know. This was a Summer Reading Program, after all, not a semester course, and students would only be called together for two hours on a single day to discuss it.

Indeed, the fact that it is a short book, with only 130 pages, was another consideration that weighed in the book's favor, Ernst said.
Students are more likely to read a short book than they are a long one, especially when that reading is being done over the summer and not for credit.

The book is a translation of 35 early suras, or chapters, of the Quran, accompanied by commentary, a glossary of Islamic terms and the CD. It was meant to be an introduction to the subject, not a textbook, he said.

It is one thing to teach religion, Ernst said, quite another to teach about it. Religion is a central part of the story of every culture. When educators leave it out, or trivialize it, they are leaving an important part of the story untold.

After the class, in an interview with "The Chronicle of Higher Education," Ernst said the class worked out better than he expected it would -- and suggested that maybe all the attention heaped on the book might have helped. "I feel like we opened them up to a cultural experience they've never had before," Ernst said. "The media attention probably got the students to read more seriously than they would have otherwise."

Cynthia Wolf Johnson, associate vice chancellor for student learning, said she wanted to extend a special thanks to all of the 178 discussion group leaders who made the Summer Reading Program the success it was. This contingent consisted of 78 faculty members, 53 staff members, 33 teaching assistants and 13 "others," a category that included campus ministers and the chancellor.

"I commend the discussion leaders for doing theirs jobs under difficult circumstances," Wolf Johnson said. "Despite the intense scrutiny, they were neither inhibited nor intimidated and conducted the sessions as they always have. They served as catalysts for discussion in which students shared their thoughts and critiques about the reading."
Wolf Johnson said evaluations from group leaders and students are still being processed and analyzed. Speaking anecdotally, though, discussion leaders have commented that their sessions' this year were better attended and of higher quality than were their sessions from previous years.

Comments from the evaluations will help explain all the reasons why, Wolf Johnson said.

A new chapter in Carolina history
Now that the glare of the television camera lights has past, the University community has been left to sort out what this episode has meant and will mean for Carolina -- not just for its current reputation but its continuing legacy.

Faculty leaders, already concerned about the lawsuit and the legislators' action, issued an immediate response to explain their concerns after the UNC Board of Governors, by a single vote, failed to pass a resolution in support of academic freedom. A board committee later endorsed such a resolution, but the full board has yet to meet to consider it.

The Executive Committee of the Faculty Council met to pass a resolution in support of academic freedom that the full Faculty Council approved when it met Sept. 6. The Employee Forum, in turn, is considering a resolution in support of academic freedom that was presented for a first reading on Sept. 4.

And Moeser, in more than one forum over the past few weeks, has argued that the flap over the book may have added a new chapter in the University's history of which it can be proud. A university's charge is not to run away from the hard questions, but to raise them to consciousness, Moeser said. And that's all the assignment of this book intended to do.

Moeser summed up these views when he appeared before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28.

"The criticism leveled against the Sells book is that it is an incomplete picture of Islam, that it presents only the early suras, not the later ones, which are often used as a pretext for violence and terrorism," Moeser told the press club. "There is some merit to this charge."
But Moeser then made the same point that Ernst had made to students -- that it would have been impossible to present the complete picture of the faith of Islam in a single reading.

Even so, Moeser said, the discussions that have ensued from the reading have led to many questions about Islam and Islamic fundamentalism.

"Where is the moderate Islamic voice?" he said. "Is it being suppressed by the tide of Wahhabism that is dominant in some of the countries of the Middle East? These are good questions, and it is my hope that many of our students will be intrigued enough to pursue them with further study. That, after all, is the real purpose of the Summer Reading Program -- to whet the appetite for learning and discovery."

Moeser ended his speech by trying to add some perspective on how much -- and how little -- has been accomplished by all of this.
"The level of national controversy and media attention to this event could easily lead us to the false conclusion that we accomplished more than we did," he said. "This was only one book and one two-hour discussion, not for credit. In leading our students to a better understanding of the world, I think we may have moved one grain of sand. One grain of sand. But it was a start."

Reading program discussion leaders

One hundred seventy-eight faculty and staff led 160 small-group discussions. Some leaders paired up, resulting in the difference in numbers. Leaders were:

Kimberly Abels, Writing Center
Steve Allred, Office of Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
L. Allsep, Department of History
Sahar Amer, Curriculum in Asian Studies
Robert Anderson, Institute of Latin American Studies
Rebecca Ashburn, Scholarships and Student Aid
Henry Azar, Department of Pathology and Laboratory
Donna Bailey, Center for Teaching and Learning
Bruce Baker, Department of History
Terry Barnett, International Studies
Samuel Baron, Department of History
Jessica Beard, UNC General Alumni Association
Ann-Marie Berti, School of Law
Lorraine Besser-Jones, Department of Philosophy
Deborah Bialeschki, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
Gary Bishop, Department of Computer Sciences
Alice Blackwell, Department of English
Lynn Blanchard, Carolina Center for Public Service
Karen Blansfield, Department of Dramatic Art
Joe Boehman, Housing and Residential Education
Jan Boxill, Department of Philosophy
Phil Boysen, Anesthesiology
Elizabeth Braxton, School of Journalism & Mass Communication
Dean Bresciani, OVC Student Affairs
Fred Brooks, Department of Computer Sciences
W. Bryan, Housing and Residential Education
Tim Burnett, Board of Trustees
Rachel Canada, Academic Affairs Library
Virginia Carson, Campus Y
William Chamberlain, School of Law
Mimi Chapman, School of Social Work
James Coley II, Office of Faculty Governance
Patrick Conway, Department of Economics
Sue Coppola, Division of Occupational Science
Michael Corrado, School of Law
Caroline Craig, Presbyterian Campus Ministry
Altha Cravey, Geography Department
Lisa Croucher, Summer Enrichment
Amy Crow, Department of History
Edward Curtis, Department of Religious Studies
Jon Curtis, Student Activities and Organizations
Tricia Daisley, Office of Development
Evelyn Daniel, School of Information and Library Science
Karl Davis, Department of History
Darrah Degnan, Department of Epidemiology
Carl Ernst, Department of Religious Studies
Sue Estroff, Social Medicine
Melissa Exum, Dean of Students
Mindy Fine, Curriculum in Comparative Literature
Beverly Foster, School of Nursing
Elizabeth French, Department of HBHE
Christopher Fuhrmann, Department of History
Chris Galloway, Department of Psychology
Karen Gil, Undergraduate Education and Psychology
David Gilbert, Dean of Students
Darryl Gless, Arts and Sciences and Department of English
Larry Goldberg, Department of English
Moses Goldmon, North Carolina Health Careers Access Program
Evelyn Gordon, North Carolina Hillel Foundation
Amy Gorely, Center for Public Service
Gary Hausman, Department of Anthropology
John Headley, Department of History
John Heath, School of Education
Karla Henderson, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
John Heuer, Architectural and Engineering Services Department
Paula Hinton, Davis Library
Abbie Hirsh, North Carolina Hillel Foundation
Tomee Howard, Academic Technology and Networks
Herman Huang, Highway Safety Research
Peggy Hull, NC Health Info
Lisa Inman, Housing and Residential Education
Laura Janda, Slavic Languages
Kevin Jeffay, Department of Computer Sciences
Audreye Johnson, The Black Experience Workshop
David Jones, Housing and Residential Education
Gregory Kable, Department of Dramatic Art
Nancy Kaiser, Academic Affairs Library
Zahra Kamarei, Brauer Library
Douglas Kelley, Department of Statistics
Thomas Kelley, School of Law
Leslie Kirk, Housing and Residential Education
Robert Kirkpatrick, Department of English
Jean Kitchin, Board of Trustees
Anne Klinefelter, School of Law
Sharon Kowalsky, Department of History
Charles Kurzman, Department of Sociology
Ethan Kytle, Department of History
Paul Lai, Department of English
Tom Lehman, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
George Lensing, Department of English
Jon Lepofsky, Department of Geography
Michael Lienesch, Department of Political Science
Ray Linville, UNC General Alumni Association
Jean Livermore, School of Social Work
Robert Locke, International Center
Stephen Long, Department of Political Science
Joe Lowman, Department of Psychology
Phillip Lyons, Carolina Population Center
Howard Machtinger, Teaching Fellows Program
Kristen Macnamara, AAL-Preservation
Melinda Manning, Dean of Students
Timothy Marr, Curriculum in American Studies
Or Mars, North Carolina Hillel Foundation
Rabbi Sharon Mars, North Carolina Hillel Foundation
Janet Mason, Institute of Government
Tim McMillan, African/Afro-American Studies
Melinda Meade, Department of Geography
Karen Metzguer, Department of Pediatrics
Jonathan Micancin, Department of Biology
Eric Mlyn, The Robertson Scholars Program
Susan Moeser, Department of Music
James Moeser, Chancellor's Office
Jill Moore, Institute of Government
Eric Muller, School of Law
Quincy Newell, Department of Religious Studies
Jeffrey Oberhaus, Department of Biostatistics
Jeffrey Obler, Political Science
Maureen O'Brien, Department of Art
Jacqueline Olich, UNC Center for Slavic Eurasian and East European Studies
Heather Parlier, Office of Development
Tony Patterson, Office of Scholarships and Student Aid
Christopher Payne, Housing and Residential Education
James Peacock, Department of Anthropology
Deborah Pedersen, Principal's Executive Program
Santina Pitcher, Housing and Residential Education
John Randall, North Carolina Botantical Garden
Brad Rathgeber, Arts and Sciences Foundation
Kenneth Reckford, Department of Classics
Rupa Redding-Lallinger, Department of Pediatrics
Seth Reice, Department of Biology
Dee Reid, College of Arts and Sciences
Howard Reisner, Department of Pathology and Laboratory
Jan Rivero, Wesley Foundation at UNC Chapel Hill
Larry Rowan, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Deborah Saine, News Services
Michael Salemi, Department of Economics
Patricia Sawin, Department of Anthropology
Nancy Schoonmaker, Department of History
Stephen Shafroth, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Ellen Shanahan, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research
Cindy Shea, Facilities Services
Robert Shelton, Office of the Executive Vice
Chancellor and Provost
Sarah Shields, Department of History
Paul Shinkman, Department of Psychology
David Siegel, Corporate and Foundation Relations
Edward Slavishak, Department of History
Jack Snoeyink, Department of Computer Sciences
Matthew Spangler, Department of Communications Studies
Michael Spinks, Department of English
Steve Squires, Health Sciences Library
Gabriela Stein, Clinical Psychology
Robert Steinfeld, Department of History
John Stephens, Institute of Government
Ronald Strauss, Department of Social Medicine
Margi Strickland, Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Thomas Stumpf, Department of English
Fred Stutzman, Information Technology Service
Hill Taylor, School of Education
Brian Thomas, Department of Philosophy
Gail Tudor, Department of Biostatistics
Boone Turchi, Department of Economics
Moshe Usadi, Department of History
Timothy Vavricek, Department of Philosophy
Arturo Velasquez, Department of African and Afro-American Studies
Todd Verdun, Department of English
Ivana Vuletic, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
James Ward, North Carolina Botantical Garden
Harry Watson, Department of History
Wanda Weaver, Frank Porter Graham Child Development
Judith Wegner, School of Law
Ian Wilson, Curriculum in Comparative Literature
Maureen Windle, Counseling and Psychological Services
Peter Wright, Department of Religious Studies
Nadia Yaqub, Curriculum in Asian Studies
Diane Yorke, School of Nursing
John Zornick, Military Science

Reading program takes on a plot line
of its own

Editor's note: The following are excerpts from media coverage of the Carolina Summer Reading Program in the final days leading up to the day of discussions.

From Michael Sells' Aug. 8 editorial, "Understanding, Not Indoctrination," in THE WASHINGTON POST:

"Approaching the Qur'án" presents the passages that Muslims consider the earliest revelations to Muhammad, those with the most direct account of core theological ideas and literary themes. Similary, in a college course on Western civilization, students are more likely to read Biblical passages from Exodus than the gruesome accounts of slaughter in Joshua. Do such selections present a deceptively benign view of the Bible? Only if they are generalized claims about the Bible as a whole.
Bill O'Reilly, from commentary in his Aug. 8 show, THE O'REILLY FACTOR on Fox News:

We do have freedom of religion in America, but we also have freedom from religion. So the freshmen at the University of North Carolina should not be subjected to any religious indoctrination, period. There are plenty of religious colleges if you want that. The Factor applauds the North Carolina legislature's decision, and we're happy to be the first ones on television to bring you -- bring this to the nation's attention.

William Saletan, from an Aug. 9 column in SLATE magazine:
This is what "intimidation," "discrimination," and "sensitivity" have come to. Words that once accurately described cross burnings, housing covenants, and slurs are now being used to describe the superficial emotional wounds that come from living and debating in a free society. This dilution is being perpetrated not just by the left but by the right as well. Conservatives often complain that many leftists practice censorship in the name of defeating it. That's true. But the hypocrisy goes both ways. Religious bigotry isn't gone. It just goes by the name of religious freedom.

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE columnist Clarence Page, from an Aug. 11 column, "Dummying up: For fear of reading a book about the Koran":
The important thing, as Robert Kirkpatrick, the professor who chose the book, explained on "The O'Reilly Factor" TV show is this: First-year students need to know that "as a member of an academic community they have to learn to think and to read and to write and to defend their opinions." That's right. Start pushing a book on college freshmen, and who knows? They might try reading another one.

From an Aug. 15 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR editorial, "Learning about Islam":
Those who would keep students from gaining some insight into Islam have to take care they're not mirroring the intolerance they profess to abhor. Learning about another religion should not be a threat to one's own. It should give a broader understanding of mankind's search for the divine.

From an Aug. 17 column, "Casting a vote for ignorance," written by Mary Schulken of THE DAILY REFLECTOR in Greenville:
The bin Ladens of the world think they know America. They believe we are fakes and paper tigers, our freedom, our convictions and our compassion just propped-up images on celluloid. But to know the nation is to know the depth of ignorance that view exposes. It is a view shaped entirely in isolation and intolerance imposed by fanaticism. Ban a reading assignment at a university and you've drawn the same curtain.

From an Aug. 19 THE NEW YORK TIMES editorial, "Required Reading":
North Carolina has an impressive record of educational innovation and, in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the finest public universities in the country. Those seeking to stop a thoughtful learning exercise are jeopardizing the state's reputation, mangling free speech and academic freedom in the bargain.

From an Aug. 19 column, "Why are Muslim leaders so mute?" from syndicated columnist William F. Buckley:
"Time" magazine reports that the bowdlerizers at the University of North Carolina have got out a special edition of the Koran (political correctness: the Quran). The book, handed out to incoming freshmen, is designed to communicate the teachings of the Prophet. The edition is exorcised of any sentiments such as might have impelled the knights of 9/11 to plunge themselves and their steeds into live Americans, innocent of any infidelity to Islam, this side of not adhering to it.

From an Aug. 21 THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE editorial, "Big pols on campus":
Including this book in the summer reading program may provide only modest rewards for students, but it surely creates no risk. It does not give them a comprehensive understanding of Islam, but it pushes them to learn something about the foundation of religion that has been thrust to the center of current events. The real risk rests with the politicians, who stomp on academic freedom by attempting to micromanage a university's summer reading list.

From Carl Ernst, professor of religious studies, quoted April 21 on CNN NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN:
If we wanted to avoid all controversy, we would have had to pick "The Cat in the Hat." What other outside groups do we can't predict, but we're in the business of recommending knowledge rather than fear and suspicion. And we believe the best way to do that is by directing encountering the subject matter.

From an Aug. 21 editorial, "Ignorance's challenge," in THE COURIER JOURNAL of Louisville, Ky.:
The bad news is that North Carolina legislators are considering a bill to punish the university -- arguably the jewel of higher education in the South -- unless it gives equal classroom time to "all known religions." And the university's board of governors refused to support a resolution earlier this month embracing academic freedom. What mush-brained thinking. How Taliban-like.

From an Aug. 22 editorial, "Classroom freedoms can't be taken for granted," in THE VIRGINIA-PILOT:
"In a display of almost breath-taking cravenness, the university's 32-member governing board refused earlier this month to support a resolution proclaiming the importance of academic freedom. Board members, who are elected to four-year terms by the General Assembly, feared offending the legislature, which controls the university's budget. Without academic freedom, there is no university. Rather than professors seeking and speaking truths, there are trained dogs barking sanctioned clichés. North Carolina owes much of its modern prosperity to its splendid university system. The famed Research Triangle is the child of those universities. If the legislature now restricts the teaching of religions there, the message sent far and wide will be that North Carolina is a state that does not value academic freedom and the quest for truth. North Carolina's role model will be the Islamic states that condemn the teaching of Christianity.

From an Aug. 22 THE WASHINGTON POST editorial, "To Read the Koran":
The troubling aspect of this episode is not legal, but cultural. It is the apparently widespread sense that the Koran is the enemy's text, the study of which undermines America's resolve and constitutes a slight to "our" values ... America is engaged in a long-term and complicated project of destroying the terrorism that operates in the name of Islam while embracing and fostering moderate Islam. Asking American students to know something about the Koran and consider why it moves other people as their country pursues this progess is not political correctness run amok. It is common sense.

From an Aug. 25 column by Jan Jarboe Russell in THE SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
Students today need to read theology for the same reason that students of my day read science: because they are woefully ignorant of the subject. The age of science has given way to the age of truly scary spirituality.

From an Aug. 25 editorial, "Sanitizing Islam," in THE JERUSALEUM POST:
But it does not touch on Islamic notions of holy war, or Islamic ideas about the justness of killing "infidels," from which too many of today's Muslims draw inspiration. As a result, students are left with a scant appreciation of Islamic culture, all the while thinking they've had their minds opened.

From an Aug. 28 editorial/column, "Three cheers for UNC," in THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER:
What is needed in today's dangerous and uncertain world is more -- not less -- understanding of other people's cultures and religions. The real antidote for religious extremism is knowledge -- intellectual inquiry and curiosity. And that is precisely why UNC's assignment of "Approaching the Qur'án" deserves our support and commendation -- not condemnation.

THE NEW YORK TIMES columnist Thomas Friedman, from an Aug. 29 column, "Cuckoo in Carolina":
The ruckus being raised by conservative Christians over the University of North Carolina's decision to ask incoming students to read a book about the Koran -- to stimulate a campus debate -- surely has to be one of the most embarrassing moments for American since Sept. 11. Why? Because it exhibits such profound lack of understanding about what America is about. Ask yourself this question: What would Osama bin Laden do if he found that the University of Riyadh had asked incoming freshmen to read the New and Old Testaments?

From an Aug. 29 THE BOSTON GLOBE editorial:
Two unsettling events a world apart -- the stoning death sentence for a Nigerian woman who had a child out of wedlock, and the flap over readings from the Koran assigned to students at the University of North Carolina -- seem to have little in common besides references to Islam. Yet there are connecting threads: the dangers of extreme fundamentalism in any religion; and the need for more understanding, not less... Working to blunt the power of Islamic fundamentalism requires knowledge of Islamic tradition and teachings. While (the woman's) sentence is nothing but a violation of basic human rights, in order to discredit those condemning her in the name of Islam, one must understand sharia law, and the Islamic tenets that inform it. The University of North Carolina's decision to promote understanding of Islam should be a model.

Anatomy of a controversy

The following is a timeline of events and media coverage associated with Carolina's 2002 Summer Reading Program.

Media coverage

May 21
Fox News' Brit Hume criticizes the University for selecting "Approaching the Qur'a'n."

May 22
Chancellor James Moeser appears on NPR's "Morning Edition" to discuss the book's selection before the controversy erupts. "The only way for us to advance as a civilization is to understand other cultures," he says. The chancellor also makes it clear that students who object may be exempted from the reading.

May 23
Moeser makes statement at the Board of Trustees meeting regarding
Summer Reading Program that results in statewide and some additional national coverage reflecting the University's position on
the issue.

May 28
Terry Moffit, chair of Family Policy Network (FPN), criticizes Carolina in a news release that receives little media attention at that time.

July 10
Robert Kirkpatrick, professor of English and chair of the book selection committee, appears on "The O'Reilly Factor," a Fox TV
program, in which host Bill O'Reilly charges that the book selection is unpatriotic. Other Fox programs carry FPN
representatives saying they are seeking plaintiffs to join them in a potential lawsuit.

Aug. 21
Moeser discusses the Quran book controversy and academic freedom issues on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" and later appears on a Carolina-focused edition of the network's late-night news show, "Nightline," with Ted Koppel.

Aug. 28 Moeser
speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; C-SPAN covers the event live.

Sept. 5
The book's author, Michael Sells, delivers lecture at Hill Hall Auditorium that is later broadcast on C-SPAN's "Book TV." "Sometimes if you make the right decision for the right reason, that decision can provide a great public service," he says.

Timeline of events

May 15
Reading assignment goes to incoming freshmen and transfer students.

July 19
Because of the controversy, the University amends the Summer Reading Program web site to clarify the assignment for students and their parents. The language affirms what Moeser and other University officials have said publicly since late May: that the students or their families oposed to reading parts of the Quran because to do so is offensive to their own faith may choose not to read the book. Instead, those students are asked to complete a one-page writng assignment on why they choose not to read the book. (All students are asked to complete a writing assignment and participate in small group discussions.)

July 22
Family Policy Network (FPN) files lawsuit against Carolina. Three unidentified freshmen and the conservative Christian group sue the University in federal court, saying the required reading of a book about Islam is unconstitutional.

July 25
Speaking before University trustees, Moeser praises book choice. "I'm proud of our faculty for having made an insightful and, yes,
a provocative choice -- but provocative in the best positive sense of that word. Provocative of thought, dialogue and constructive controversy."

Aug. 9
UNC Board of Governors declines to approve a resolution endorsing principles of academic freedom.

Aug. 13
Executive Committee of Carolina's Faculty Council passes resolution supporting academic freedom. N.C. House passes budget, making no attempt to remove measure barring Carolina from spending public funds on Summer Reading Program.

Aug. 15
A federal judge refuses to stop the Summer Reading Program.

Aug. 19, 10 a.m.
4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues unanimous decision that upholds the lower court ruling.

Aug. 19, 1 p.m.
Discussion sessions are held on campus without incident. A large number of media outlets, including "The New York Times," CNN, "The Chronicle of Higher Education" and PBS come to campus to file news reports.

Aug. 22
A committee of the UNC Board of Governors calls on the entire board to endorse a formal resolution reaffirming its commitment to academic freedom.