UNC Board of Governors Repeals DEI Policy, Student Protesters Are Unhappy

AP Photo/Makiya Seminera

Last week the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted to cut more than $2 million in funding for DEI and to redirect that money toward campus police. Chapel Hill was out in front but their move was taken in advance of an expected vote on DEI by the Board of Governors for the entire University of North Carolina system which includes 17 schools. 

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Today, the Board of Governors met and voted to repeal the DEI system which was instituted back in 2019. They replaced it with a new system which has a different focus.

The new policy reverses one that was adopted in 2019 that sought to “foster an inclusive environment” and required each school to submit diversity and inclusion reports to the board of trustees every year.

The new policy now requires UNC schools to “ensure equality of all persons & viewpoints,” and promote “nondiscrimination in employment practices.”

One of the BOG members who supported the change is a retired DEI administrator.

Ahead of the vote, board secretary Pearl Burris-Floyd and board member Gene Davis discussed their support for the new policy.

Burris-Floyd said she retired from the field of DEI and believes there have been flaws in the way DEI has been taught.

“And that has hurt the fabric and ability to carry things forward, but it does not mean that we stop,” Burris-Floyd said.

UNC System President Peter Hans made comments about the vote emphasizing the need for the university to stay out of political controversies.

“We have well-established laws and policies that prohibit discrimination, protect equal opportunity, and require a safe and supportive learning environment for all students,” Hans said in his written statement last month. “We will continue to uphold those responsibilities.”

In separate public remarks Thursday, Hans emphasized his belief that universities must remain neutral, while allowing students and faculty to debate political and social issues. 

“It’s good for college students to encounter liberal ideas, to become familiar with the best forms of progressive thought our society has to offer. It’s good for college students to encounter conservative ideas, to appreciate traditional perspectives and hear strong right-of-center arguments,” Hans said.

But he added that “it’s vital that college administrators stay out of it altogether.”

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The new police takes effect immediately but campuses will be given until Sep. 1 to come into compliance with it. What compliance means at this point is not clear. Presumably some of the DEI bureaucracy in the system will need to be trimmed or eliminated but at the moment no one seems to know how many jobs might be lost.

It's also possible that some campuses will simply rebrand their DEI efforts in an attempt to get them to pass muster under the new system without really changing much of anything. We've seen these kind of DEI rebranding efforts play out in several states already. In other words, not every campus is required to follow UNC-Chapel Hill's lead and direct DEI funding to campus police. We'll just have to wait and see whether other schools comply with this.

There was a small protest made up of about 30-40 students. They held a press conference before the vote connecting this to Palestinian liberation.

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The group then entered the building where the Board of Governors was meeting, began chanting loudly and refused to leave.

Some students apparently agreed to leave and others took up residence in an elevator and refused.

Two arrests were made. I guess we'll see if that goes anywhere. 

Of course there are plenty of other people who are unhappy with the vote today:

Nikki Moore, a visiting assistant professor of art and architectural history at Wake Forest, called diversity a "fact of life" and noted that inclusion builds more knowledgeable and resilient students.

“We've already seen the world of the 1950s, where only a small circle of white privileged men made decisions for all. We left that model far behind because it wasn't working for the majority of the nation. Why visit that same mistake again in 2024?” she wrote.

Equality is not racist and neither is requiring institutional neutrality from universities. But naturally there are going to be people whose only reaction to this is to shout about racism. It's tired and tiresome but these are one-trick ponies and this is their one trick.

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024
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