UNC Board of Trustees unanimously votes to slash diversity program, divert money to public safety

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Monday, May 13, 2024
UNC looks to move DEI funding to police resources
This funding change could result in the complete loss of the university's diversity office.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- As North Carolina's public university system considers a vote on changing its diversity policy, the system's flagship university board voted Monday to cut funding for diversity programs in next year's budget.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees approved a change that would divert $2.3 million of diversity funding to go toward public safety and policing at a special meeting to address the university's budget. The board's vote would only impact UNC-Chapel Hill's diversity funding, which could result in the loss of its diversity office.

The vote to shift more funding to public safety comes as continued pro-Palestinian protests on UNC's campus have resulted in several arrests in recent weeks. The budget committee vice-chair Marty Kotis said law enforcement has already been forced to react to protests, but they need more funding to keep the university "safe from a larger threat."

"We talk about peaceful protests, but when you destroy property or you take down the U.S flag and you have to put up gates around it - that costs money -- or deploy officers to do that. North Carolinians are watching all this, and they are not happy," Kotis said. "I think its imperative that we have the proper resources for our law enforcement to protect campus."

After approving the change in the budget committee, the full board passed the measure at the end of the special meeting. Budget chair Dave Boliek, who is also running for state auditor in Tuesday's runoff election, said it gives the university an "opportunity to lead on this" and get ahead of the vote by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors' on its diversity policy.

Boliek also told ABC11 that the university is moving away from using state funds for DEI initiatives (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion). He said that combined with ongoing conversations about how to better fund campus safety, which have been taking place since a professor was shot and killed during class in August, lead to the board's decision.

Boliek said that DEI initiatives on campus may still be funded through private donations in the future. He said the ultimate impact to DEI programs and staff positions would fall under the purview of Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts.

Last month, the statewide board's Committee on University Governance voted to reverse and replace its DEI policy for 17 schools across the state. The change would alter a 2019 diversity, equity and inclusion regulation that defines the roles of various DEI positions - and it would appear to eliminate those jobs if the policy is removed.

The 24-member UNC System Board of Governors is scheduled to vote next week on the policy change. If the alteration is approved, it will take effect immediately.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.