May 23, 2024 - News

UNC eliminates DEI policy across campuses

Illustration of a hand erasing the letters DEI from a chalkboard

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The UNC system's Board of Governors voted Thursday to repeal the existing diversity and inclusion policy at North Carolina's public university campuses.

Why it matters: The decision could lead to the elimination of diversity offices across the system — which has happened in other states this year.

  • Effective immediately, the UNC policy will be replaced with one geared toward maintaining "institutional neutrality."

Zoom in: The system's previous policy outlined the roles of various diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) jobs at public schools in the state, as well as the creation of a diversity and inclusion council, made up of members of each university, according to the AP.

  • The replacement policy does not include outlined responsibilities for diversity staff.
  • It calls for schools to report on compliance with the change, including by noting "reductions in force and spending" as well as changes to job titles and position descriptions.
  • Andrew Tripp, senior vice president for the UNC system office's legal affairs team, said the change will reaffirm "the university's commitment to non-discrimination and institutional neutrality," per the AP.

Context: Two protestors of the decision were arrested outside the UNC system office in downtown Thursday, according to The News & Observer.

Catch up quick: The UNC system's Committee on University Governance moved to repeal and replace the policy in April, doing so without any discussion.

  • Weeks later, UNC-Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees voted to redirect $2.3 million from funding DEI programs at the university toward public safety efforts, WUNC reported.

Zoom out: In 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court transformed UNC's admissions process, ruling that it discriminated against white and Asian American applicants by giving more weight to applicants from underrepresented groups.

What's next: UNC system schools must comply with the change by Sept. 1.

  • The state's House speaker, Republican Tim Moore, said earlier this year that the N.C. General Assembly had an interest in taking up anti-DEI legislation in its upcoming session. But he told reporters that it would likely wait for the UNC system to review its diversity policies beforehand, the News & Observer reported.

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