UNC-Chapel Hill Board Of Trustees Vote To Divert $2.3M Away From DEI Programs, Citing ‘Public Safety’ Concerns

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:31 PM – Monday, May 13, 2024

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has decided to transfer $2.3 million to “public safety” instead of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

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At a special Board of Trustees meeting on Monday morning, there was a unanimous vote. However, it is still unclear if the money redirection will undoubtedly result in job losses.

The vice chair of the board’s budget and finance committee, Marty Kotis, was who first proposed and approved the “flex cut amendment.” He referred to DEI initiatives as “discriminatory and divisive.”

“I think that DEI in a lot of people’s minds is divisiveness, exclusion, and indoctrination,” Kotis said. “We need more unity and togetherness, more dialogue, and more diversity of thought.”

The DEI office claims that their goal is to “create and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, and alumni,” according to the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Meanwhile, Kotis and other board members stated that in order to safeguard the campus against organizations that “disrupt the university’s operations,” more funding for public safety was necessary.

Numerous participants notably brought up the most recent campus anti-Israel protests. At an encampment where demonstrators had taken down the American flag and replaced it with a Palestinian one, police arrested over thirty individuals last month.

“When you destroy property or you take down the U.S. flag and you have to put up gates around it—that costs money,” Kotis stated. “It’s imperative that we have the proper resources for law enforcement to protect the campus.”

Many have criticized the university’s police response to campus demonstrations, including members of the town councils in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“UNC administration created an environment that inevitably resulted in an escalation of force, including the use of pepper spray against its own students,” stated a letter that was signed by a majority of town council members. “This use of aggressive police tactics against students and community members invites aggressive responses and only serves to escalate an already tense situation.”

“It is a shame that the town of Chapel Hill refuses to aid our local university police when called upon,” said David Boliek, chair of the budget and finance committee. “The $2.3 million would be an added help to what is probably a budget issue with respect to how much we’re having to spend on law enforcement right now.”

Insiders who spoke with the press on the condition of anonymity said that it is unusual for the board to decide to approve a “flex cut amendment” at a special meeting right before the chancellor presents the Board of Governors with an overall budget. Attending the special meeting on Monday, Chancellor Lee Roberts remained silent regarding the fund diversion.

“While we may be an advisory board, we do have the power of the purse,” Kotis said. “And if we don’t want to approve programs that aren’t in compliance with our (non-discrimination) resolution, then we don’t have to.”

The decision comes after the UNC Board of Governors’ committee voted last month to repeal a provision requiring DEI offices at all of the state’s public colleges. The entire Board of Governors will vote on the same policy change next week.

The policy change will take effect immediately if approved, and chancellors of individual universities will have until September of this year to outline their plans for reducing funding for DEI activities.

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