It was a campus culinary debate that brought Terry Carroll into the political fray at NC State in the early 1970s. As as student, he opened a Technician and saw an article outlining what type of sandwich was going to be served in the cafeteria.
“I’m like, we’re asleep here,” Carroll said in his interview with the Student Leadership Initiative, an NCSU Libraries project chronicling former campus leaders and their stories. “The world is on fire, and we’re just sitting about, you know, wondering what we’re going to have to snack on during football games.”
What was a seemingly trite sandwich debate was, for Carroll, the spark that lit his interest in student government at NC State.
The Winston-Salem, N.C., native appeared in the first televised candidate discussion during an election on his way to becoming the student body president in 1973-74. During his year in office, he tried to lower the price of textbooks and parking for students.
He also called for the creation of an African-American cultural center. Because of Carroll’s leadership efforts, Dean of Student Affairs Banks Talley let students use the first floor of the print shop as a cultural center.
In Carroll’s six interviews with the Student Leadership Initiative, he recalled his interest in building rockets as the impetus for leaving a farm and his coming to NC State. And he discussed how the 1970s counterculture provided a very turbulent backdrop to campus life at NC State with students becoming more socially conscious and active and with the campus seeing the mixing of genders.
“Men and women weren’t allowed to mix,” Carroll said. “You had all that going and you had kind of a Southern Animal House. I mean I loved the movie because if you were kind of involved in that sort of thing there is a lot of truth in that movie.”