Local NAACP denounces UNC’s Board of Governors’ decision to repeal its DEI policy


By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

CHAPEL HILLThe Chapel-Hill Carrboro NAACP emphatically criticized the UNC Board of Governors’ decision on May 23 to repeal and replace its existing diversity, equity, and inclusion policy (DEI). Regulation 300.8.5, called the “Regulation on Diversity and Inclusion Within the University of North Carolina,” would be repealed and replaced with a policy named “Equality Within the University of North Carolina.”  According to UNC media information, the policy is effective immediately, and institutions must certify their compliance on or before September 1.

In a press release shared over the holiday weekend, the NAACP stated, “This decision has the potential to disrupt access to crucial resources for nearly a quarter of a million students in the UNC system.”

What is DEI?

DEI, an acronym for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, represents a vital set of organizational initiatives and strategies created to play a role in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The significance of these programs lies in their ability to establish an inclusive environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds are not just tolerated but truly valued and respected. Their purpose is to ensure equal opportunities for growth and advancement. DEI programs encompass training sessions, policies, and practices to prevent discrimination and bias, recruitment and retention strategies for diverse talent, and the creation of a culture of belonging within the organization.

Last Thursday, the UNC Board of Governors’ decision repealed two DEI policies adopted in 2019 that required each of the state’s 17 campuses (including UNC-Chapel Hill) to hire a chief diversity officer and set goals for advancing diversity and inclusion, among other provisions.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP reacts

The NAACP’s official statement reads, “The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP strongly denounces this decision and urges the board to reconsider its dismantling and defunding of these programs.”

The UNC Board of Governors argues that the new UNC policy “commits institutions to neutrality and nondiscrimination,” a stance that has been widely criticized for its potential to undermine the progress made by the previous DEI policies.

A national movement

According to reports in bestcolleges.com, “Across the country, state lawmakers are proposing bills to limit diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at all state-funded institutions.” North Carolina has bills introduced but not yet signed into law. Currently, more than 30 bills across the country target “diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives at public colleges.”

“UNC’s decision comes amid a national political push to undermine and eliminate DEI programs, with legislative and other governing bodies targeting publicly funded universities in particular,” according to the NAACP statement.

The resulting pros and cons

UNC’s new policy will result in a loss of jobs in DEI offices and will remove diversity statements from hiring practices. An op-ed published in the Charlotte Observer by the UNC Governors Board Chairman Randy Ramesy said, “It’s not just universities revisiting some of the excesses of DEI. Corporations have also been taking a hard look at training programs that promote group identity at the expense of individual dignity. Research suggests such training can actually deepen divisions, not promote inclusion.”

“Simply put, it’s time for our universities — in day-to-day operations — to stop promoting politically divisive ideologies and keep the focus on the UNC System’s core mission of education, research, and public service.”

The proposed policy ensures our universities abide by the law while also protecting academic freedom and our faculty’s right to teach as they see fit. It protects centers, student organizations, and student activity funding. It also protects the individual rights of students, faculty, and staff to express their own opinions on every topic.”

Update from UNC Media Communications on May 28

“UNC-Chapel Hill is awaiting implementation guidance from the UNC System related to the Board of Governors’ May 23 vote to change its diversity, equity, and inclusion policy,” UNC Media Communications told TLR on Wednesday afternoon.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s statement reads in part:

…. “The revised Board of Governors policy aims to ensure efforts to support students on UNC System campuses do not infringe on academic freedom, equal opportunity or institutional neutrality.

“Research initiatives, faculty teaching, and student-led organizations are all protected under the policy, which includes some of the strongest support for academic freedom ever passed by the Board of Governors.

The policy does not call for the wholesale elimination of programs or personnel devoted to supporting students of different backgrounds. In fact, initiatives to welcome and support underserved students are well within the scope of the University’s mission, provided they follow nondiscrimination statutes and do not require those affiliated with them to adopt a political viewpoint.”

NAACP disagrees

Chapel Hill – Carrboro NAACP said, “The Board of Governors’ decision is a failure of leadership for our university community, other public universities across the state of North Carolina, and our diverse communities here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Once again, we strongly urge them to reconsider it.”

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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