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 UNC Board Cuts Funding For Diversity Programs

Source: ABC News

As North Carolina’s public university system prepares to vote on revising its diversity policy, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees voted recently to cut funding for diversity programs in next year’s budget. 

During a special budget meeting, the board approved reallocating $2.3 million from diversity programs to public safety and policing. This decision affects only UNC-Chapel Hill and could lead to the elimination of its diversity office.

UNC-Chapel Hill joins other public universities like the University of Florida in reducing diversity spending. Unlike UF, which followed a state law banning diversity program funding, UNC-Chapel Hill preemptively made these changes before any legislative action in North Carolina, according to budget chair Dave Boliek.

“We’re taking a leadership role in this,” Boliek stated after the vote.

The changes will take effect on July 1, 2024, marking the start of the 2024-2025 fiscal year. Boliek mentioned that job impacts would occur after this date, though the number of affected positions is still uncertain.

The decision to potentially dissolve the Office of Diversity & Inclusion will be determined by the university’s management, led by interim Chancellor Lee Roberts. The office currently employs 12 staff members, including a chief diversity officer.

The revised budget, including the $2.3 million reallocation, will be submitted to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, according to UNC spokesperson Kevin Best.

The increased funding for public safety comes amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests on UNC’s campus, resulting in several recent arrests. Budget committee vice-chair Marty Kotis emphasized the need for more resources to address these protests and ensure campus safety.

“It’s important to consider the needs of all 30,000 students, not just the 100 or so that may want to disrupt the university’s operations,” Kotis said.

Boliek, who is running for state auditor in an upcoming runoff election, clarified that the timing of the reallocation was coincidental and that discussions on reducing diversity spending had been ongoing for nearly a year.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against affirmative action in college admissions last year, the board has been reassessing its approach to diversity programs. The reallocation towards public safety was also influenced by a fatal shooting on campus in August that left a faculty member dead.

“It makes sense to reallocate funds to something more productive, like public safety,” Boliek said.

As North Carolina’s legislative session approaches, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore expressed interest in pursuing anti-DEI legislation but preferred to let university boards review their policies first.

At least 20 states have seen Republican-led efforts to limit diversity and inclusion programs in public institutions, including universities.

Attention now turns to the UNC Board of Governors, whose 24 members are expected to vote next week on revising its diversity policy. The proposed changes would replace a 2019 regulation defining DEI roles at 17 schools across the state, potentially eliminating those positions if the policy is removed.

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