UNC Chapel Hill Ends DEI Programs, Allocates $2.3m Funds to Campus Police

By: Georgia | Published: May 14, 2024

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has voted to dismantle its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. 

The decision reallocates millions in funding from these initiatives to enhance public safety and campus police following recent protests. The change was detailed in a report by The News & Observer.

Unanimous Decision by Trustees

The board’s decision was unanimous, involving the transfer of $2.3 million previously allocated to DEI programs toward police and public safety measures. 

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The seal of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill engraved on a brick pathway, showing the university's name and motto

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This action was part of the university’s annual budget approval process, emphasizing a significant redirection of resources.

Concerns Over Administrative Spending

David Boliek, the Board Chair, expressed his views on administrative expenditures, saying, “My personal opinion is that there’s administrative bloat in the university.” 

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The South Building at UNC Chapel Hill, a historic brick building with white columns and a cupola, set against a clear blue sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He indicated that the funding shift would help reduce this bloat by focusing resources more directly on essential services like public safety.

Response to Campus Demonstrations

Following demonstrations at UNC Chapel Hill, which resulted in several arrests, Trustee Marty Kotis highlighted the need for increased law enforcement funding. 

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A view from above of a busy brick courtyard on the UNC Chapel Hill campus, with students walking and gathering in groups

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He said, “It’s important to consider the needs of all 30,000 students, not just 100 or so that may want to disrupt the university’s operations.”

Broader Implications Across UNC System

The board’s actions at Chapel Hill precede a critical vote by the UNC Board of Governors. 

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The Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower at UNC Chapel Hill, partially obscured by tree branches, with its clock faces visible

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

This vote could restrict DEI programs across all 17 public universities in North Carolina, suggesting a system-wide policy shift might be underway.

Potential Policy Reversal

Last month, the board’s Committee on University Governance voted to reverse and replace a DEI policy adopted in 2019. 

The Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill, an iconic white gazebo with a domed roof, surrounded by trees and a historic brick building

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

The full board of 24 members must approve this repeal for it to take effect, pointing to a significant policy change across the university system.

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Echoing National Movements

This trend is not isolated to North Carolina. 

The Honors Residential College at Hume Hall, University of Florida, featuring a brick archway entrance and palm trees

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The University of Florida, for instance, announced last month that it was eliminating its DEI office and reallocating those funds to faculty recruitment. 

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The Current DEI Policy

The DEI policy in question outlines specific roles for DEI positions and the creation of a diversity and inclusion council comprising members from each university. 

A large crowd gathered on the lawn in front of a historic building at UNC Chapel Hill during an evening event

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

These roles and structures are at risk if the policy is repealed, as part of the ongoing policy evaluations.

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Legal and Institutional Reaffirmation

Andrew Tripp, senior vice president for the UNC System Office’s legal affairs team, explained the change to The Associated Press. 

Members of the UNC Chapel Hill drumline performing with large drums featuring the UNC logo

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

He said that the policy change would reaffirm “the university’s commitment to non-discrimination and institutional neutrality.”

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Continued Inclusion Efforts

Despite potential cutbacks, the proposed policy indicates that the university will continue inclusion efforts, such as tracking diversity metrics and reporting to university boards. 

The Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill, a white gazebo with a domed roof, set against a backdrop of brick buildings and greenery

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

These efforts are intended to maintain some level of commitment to diversity and inclusion.

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UNC Chapel Hill's Preparations

UNC Chapel Hill’s spokesperson, Kevin Best, stated in an email to the AP last month that the university would review the policy changes and collaborate with the university system to implement them. 

The Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill, illuminated with blue lights at night, featuring its columned entrance

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

He emphasized that ensuring equality of opportunity remains a core value of UNC Chapel Hill.

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Implications for the University Community

As these changes unfold, the impact on students and staff at UNC Chapel Hill and potentially across the state could be profound. 

The South Building at UNC Chapel Hill, displaying large blue banners with the letters "UNC" and surrounded by trees

Source: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Facebook

The reallocation of funds and the potential restructuring of DEI initiatives are likely to influence the university’s operational and educational environment.

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