Chaotic Scene as UNC Board Votes Unanimously To Close Centers Over Student Protests
The UNC Board of Governors has voted unanimously to close 3 academic centers, including one headed by a staunch GOP critic. The vote came as protesters disrupted the meeting multiple times. The Board moved the meeting to a smaller room after chanting forced a recess. They then barred the protesters from entering, where, according to tweets from reporters on the scene, protesters banged on the doors demanding to be let back in. They also reportedly began reading from North Carolina's open meetings laws.
The protests were in response to the proposed closing of the three academic centers: East Carolina's Center for Biodiversity, NC Central's Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change, and UNC Chapel Hill's Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity. They also protested a hike in tuition, which the board approved.
Critics charged the closures were politically motivated. The Republican Board of Governors reviewed all university programs and selected 3 that are favorite causes of liberals and Democrats. Especially controversial was the decision to close the UNC Poverty Center, whose director, Gene Nichol, has written numerous editorials in the News & Observer of Raleigh critical of Governor Pat McCrory and Republican legislators, in particular for how they have addressed, or in his view, failed to address, the issue of poverty in North Carolina.
This is just the latest of several moves by the Board of Governors that have angered professors across the state. The board earlier this year announced they were forcing the resignation of UNC system president Tom Ross, despite praising his work and offering no reason for his dismissal except for saying the board needed a "change in direction." Ross has connections to the Democratic party, which some view as the deciding factor in his dismissal by the GOP-dominated board.