University of North Carolina Board Votes To End DEI Requirements

(Photo by Eros Hoagland/Getty Images)

Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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The University of North Carolina (UNC) System Board of Governors approved a new policy Thursday that alters the framework for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across its campuses, News & Observer reported.

The new policy is poised to reshape administrative and programmatic support for DEI at public universities in the state and has sparked debate and student protests. Previously, the UNC System mandated each of its 17 campuses to have a chief diversity officer and actively work towards specific diversity-related goals. However, the newly approved policy shifts the emphasis from diversity and inclusion to equality and non-discrimination, according to the News & Observer.

This change reflects a broader national trend, with 85 anti-DEI bills introduced across the country since 2023, Chronicle of Higher Education reported. The immediate effects of this policy are yet to be fully determined, as the UNC System’s legal affairs division is expected to issue compliance guidelines soon, News & Observer stated. Preliminary directives indicate that campus leaders must report any resultant reductions in workforce and spending, as well as modifications to job titles and descriptions, to UNC System President Peter Hans by Sept. 1.

One tangible example of the policy’s impact is at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the Board of Trustees voted to eliminate $2.3 million in annual DEI spending, reallocating these funds to campus safety and police enhancements, News & Observer reported. Critics of the policy, including numerous students and faculty, argue that these changes undermine efforts to support various underrepresented groups. (RELATED: University Quietly Scrubs Race-Based Criteria From Fellowship Program)

“I wish I were here in the same alternate universe that the UNC Board of Governors lives in,” Pragya Upreti, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill said, the outlet reported. “A colorblind society where we had already achieved diversity, where we had already achieved equity and where we had already achieved inclusion. An alternate reality where there was no past to rectify. But ignorance is bliss and unfortunately, we’re well informed. We do not live in that alternate reality.”

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JUNE 29: People walk on the campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on June 29, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admission policies used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution, bringing an end to affirmative action in higher education. (Photo by Eros Hoagland/Getty Images)

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – JUNE 29: People walk on the campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on June 29, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Eros Hoagland/Getty Images)

Proponents, however, claim that the focus on institutional neutrality and nondiscrimination will foster a more balanced and inclusive environment without politically driven agendas. The debate reached a climax with student protests at the Thursday Board of Governors meeting, where attendees voiced concerns about the erasure of historical injustices and the potential neglect of communities that have traditionally benefited from targeted DEI programs, News & Observer reported.

Despite these protests, UNC president, Peter Hans, maintains that the policy will not affect the ability of faculty to teach or students to discuss DEI-related subjects in academic settings.

“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, according to News & Observer.