UNC Board of Republican Governors launches inquisition

The mostly white, mostly male, mostly Republican UNC Board of Governors has launched an inquisition into several of the UNC system's centers that focus on various societal issues. Of the 240 centers statewide, the white male Republican inquisitors have chosen about 30 for special grilling on the hot seat. In case you're wondering if the centers chosen to be questioned in the spotlight largely address causes the tea party opposes (you know, poverty, women, diversity, the environment, civil rights and such), the answer is (SURPRISE!) yes.

The white male Republican inquisitors claim that their inquisition is all about efficiency, but of course it's really all about ideology and quashing opposition voices.

In a debate that at times veered into testy ideological exchange, UNC-Chapel Hill center directors mounted a vigorous justification of their work Thursday before a UNC Board of Governors panel reviewing more than two dozen centers and institutes.

With a thinly veiled mission to stamp out some of the centers that the white male Republican Board of Governors loathe most, the inquisitors (SURPRISE!) used charges of a lack of diversity in their march to eliminate diversity [emphasis mine].

UNC board member Steven Long took issue with what he said was a lack of diverse points of view at the center. He questioned whether the university should be in the business of advocacy, and charged that the center was involved in marches.

UNC Law Dean Jack Boger said the center had been careful to keep its distance from the weekly demonstrations at the legislature, called “Moral Monday” by organizers.

“I’ve read your materials,” said Long, who was on the board of the conservative Civitas Institute, according to a 2013 news release. “There is no diversity of opinion in that center.”

Mr. Long, whose diversity of opinion apparently extends as far as does Art Pope's, and who is in the business of right-wing advocacy, seems oblivious to the blatant hypocrisy of his line of questioning. Fortunately though, at least for the time being, some university students know hypocrisy when they see it.

In the background a student protester held a sign that said: “Where’s the diversity of perspective on the BOG?”

In case you're wondering if one of the centers that's in the inquisitors' cross-hairs is the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, led by Gene Nichol, the answer is (SURPRISE!) yes. I'll bet that's what started the whole inquisition, and I'll bet the white male Republican Board of Governors tries to shut it down -- if not immediately, in the not too distant future.

This is what the agenda is,” Nichol said. “We think that people in North Carolina, people across the United States at the bottom aren’t getting a fair share, they aren’t getting a fair shake. That’s not a stunning conclusion. The United States is the richest, the poorest and the most unequal nation in the world. There’s at least a real question presented on that front.”

Long, the board member, said the center had posed legitimate ways to attack poverty, but there was a lack of different viewpoints on the complex issue. “That’s the criticism I have of your center,” Long said. “I see a point made, but not a counterpoint.”

I presume Mr. Long's counterpoint is that there isn't really any poverty, and even if there is, a legitimate way to attack it is to further cut taxes for rich people and force Gene Nichol to just shut the hell up.

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DIversity of opinion

When the white male Republican board of governors whines about "diversity of opinion", what they really mean is "replace those wrong opinions with my right opinions".

The board will address the issue of advocacy by centers and likely recommend training for directors on the issue. “When you’re speaking on behalf of the institution in total, I think it’s really important that we voice both sides,” [James Holmes Jr., the UNC board member who chairs the review panel] said.

Yeah, "training": "Professor Nichol, please step into the training chamber...".

Yeah, "both sides":

Nichol said he had been called into the law school dean’s office three times during the last legislative session and told of threats by Republican politicians to fire him, shut down the center or move it to UNC Pembroke.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Well framed

Inquisition is exactly right.

Alumni

If the Board of Republican Governors starts going too far, at what point to UNC system alumni organize and pledge not to give any more funds to the schools until the Board is replaced with more competent members?

That is

the $64,000 (actually WAY more) question.

Ironically, the centers are largely self-supporting.

If the board is simply looking for savings, the centers and institutes are odd places to review. In aggregate, they receive only a small portion of the state's university funding, and most more than pay for themselves by attracting grants, contracts and donations. At UNC-CH, for instance, centers and institutes generated $7.83 in external funds for every $1 invested by the state, according to the university's website. During 2013, they attracted $160 million in external funding, nearly a quarter of the university's total external funding.

So if alumni protest with their pocketbooks, it wouldn't affect the centers much. I'm surprised that there hasn't already been an alumni uprising over Art Pope's control of the university system via the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Will UNC students know the source?

Will UNC students know the source of these changes?

http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/12/bog-names-final-centers-under-review

"When it comes to centers that have to do with social justice or advocacy, it seemed as though one voice could send them to the next review," she said.

Brien said the centers related to science, technology or business seemed more likely to be exempt from review.

I feel like Daily Tar Heel has been good at letting students know when centers will be affected, when course offerings will be cut, and when tuition will be increased, but not as strong on connecting it back to the way elections impact policy. Too often the students vs board of governors framing doesn't capture that.