University of North Carolina System Plans to Repeal DEI Policy

The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governor’s Committee on University Governance voted unanimously on Wednesday to repeal and replace the current diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy without discussion.

The motion by the Board proposes removal of system-wide DEI metrics and goals across the UNC System and the need for schools to designate a senior-level DEI officer.

The policy will advance to the full Board of Governors on its consent agenda in May and becomes effective upon adoption.

“The University of North Carolina reaffirms its commitment to equality of opportunity in education and employment, ensuring inclusivity for individuals of diverse backgrounds,” as per the Board’s agenda item.

Comprising 16 public universities and a public boarding high school, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, the UNC System caters to nearly 250,000 students annually. This decision may impact various educational institutions, from K-12 to community colleges, and influence educator preparation.

Under the new policy, each institution must confirm compliance with the University’s commitment to institutional neutrality and nondiscrimination by September 1. This deadline includes updating or eliminating current DEI positions at each school.

Moreover, the policy defines diversity broadly, encompassing differences in backgrounds, beliefs, viewpoints, abilities, cultures, and traditions that distinguish individuals.

The UNC System Board of Governors, appointed by the state legislature, governs the entire system, predominantly comprising Republicans for the past decade, with minimal Democratic representation.

This Board oversees appointments to individual universities’ boards of trustees, chancellors, and presidents, with a majority of 24 voting members appointed by the state legislature, mainly Republicans.

In a related development, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, indicated that universities would address the issue first, with Moore not seeking re-election in 2024 for his state seat.

Last June, North Carolina Republicans passed Session Law 2023-62, prohibiting compelled speech in state government or community college employment, impacting diversity efforts in faculty hiring and related evaluations.

The new policy proposal, named “Equality Within the University of North Carolina,” outlines ten sections, emphasizing nondiscrimination, academic freedom, and neutrality, among other aspects.

The previous policy, effective since 2019, mandated the appointment of senior DEI officers, a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and dissemination of DEI information to students and employees.

Efforts to reform UNC governance have been ongoing, with a bipartisan commission proposing changes to enhance system governance, term lengths, and board composition, aiming to align leadership with the diverse population they serve.

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