February 26, 2015
The UNC Board of Governors will vote tomorrow on its recommendation to close several UNC centers across the state, including the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity on the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill, the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change on the campus of North Carolina Central University, and the North Carolina Center for Biodiversity on the campus of East Carolina University.
These centers have been instrumental in initiating and sustaining some of the most progressive work in this state. In their relatively short operating history, these centers have exemplified the concept of utilizing a state’s top minds, in the form of scholars and students, to address some of the most critical social issues of the day.
In fact, it could be argued that these centers have done more to address the true concerns of North Carolina citizens than the current leadership of the General Assembly.
Notice the mission statements of the three centers:
The UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity:
The Center has four goals:
- To address the pressing needs of those currently living at or below the poverty level in North Carolina
- To provide an interdisciplinary forum to examine innovative and practical ideas to move more men, women and children out of poverty
- To raise public awareness of issues related to work and poverty
- To train a new generation to combat the causes and effects of poverty and to improve the circumstances of working people
The North Carolina Central University Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change:
“The mission of the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change is to promote civic engagement on campus, the surrounding community, and the state in order to engender social change. Therefore, the Institute seeks to increase the community's level and quality of participation in civic affairs and, thus, its efficacy in addressing racial, gender, economic, and other social injustices.”
The East Carolina University Center of Biodiversity:
“The Center for Biodiversity is a unit within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University which promotes and supports research, education, and outreach associated with global biodiversity. The CB serves the community of eastern North Carolina by providing educational programs designed to engage citizens in issues related to the conservation of biodiversity and its relevance to human health and quality of life.”
The goals of these centers line up with the best of North Carolina’s innate values. Addressing poverty, broadening opportunity for civic engagement, and conserving and promoting health and biodiversity are initiatives which are beneficial for all.
Rather than supporting and uplifting these centers and the crucial work initiated by them, the Board of Governors has instead said, essentially, that it does not believe in the initiatives led by these institutions. Instead they have said, that they are against addressing poverty, broadening opportunity for civic engagement, and conserving and promoting health and biodiversity. In calling for the closing of these centers, the Board of Governors has moved away from the direction of progress and, instead, has headed down a path based in ideological bias and petty politics.
This is not in the best interest of North Carolina. This is not in the best interest of the students and faculty of the UNC System. This is a decision being pushed by a few individuals, holding temporary power, seeking to implement a narrow and highly political agenda.
As such, the North Carolina NAACP Youth and College Division stands in support of the institutions under attack and the faculty, staff, students, and citizens which are served. We stand in support of the heads of these institutions; Dr. Gene Nichols of UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Jarvis Hall of North Carolina Central University, and Dr. David Chalcraft of East Carolina University. We stand with concerned parties across North Carolina in opposition to the recommendation by the Board of Governors.
In demonstration of our opposition to the recommendation and our willingness to fight for the sanctity of the progress these institutions represent, we will be mobilizing students to attend the UNC Board of Governors meeting where the final vote will be held. The meeting will be held this Friday, February 27, 2015 at 9:00 AM in the student union of UNC-Charlotte.