University of North Carolina May Scrap DEI Roles in Bold Policy Move

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 18, 2024

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors committee has voted to repeal and replace the university system’s existing diversity and inclusion policy. 

This decision, made in less than four minutes on a Wednesday, suggests a dramatic shift in how the institution handles DEI goals and roles, according to The Associated Press.

Impact Across Seventeen Campuses

17 campuses within the UNC system could experience significant changes due to this policy shift.

The Old Well at the University of North Carolina surrounded by flowering bushes, with students conversing nearby under the shade of green trees

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The decision to scrap current DEI goals and roles mirrors similar actions in other state university systems across the country, indicating a broader backlash to DEI ideologies in educational settings.

Changes to Senior Administrative Roles

Under the proposed policy, key DEI roles held by senior administration officials will be eliminated.

An aerial view of the University of North Carolina campus showing a bustling courtyard with students walking between classes on a sunny day

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Previously, positions such as System Office D&I Liaison, Institutional D&I Officer, and Institutional Inclusion Executive were mandatory. 

Emphasis on Neutrality and Academic Freedom

Fox News reports that the new policy that the committee voted on aims to emphasize maintaining “academic freedom,” “institutional neutrality,” “free speech and expression,” and “equality of all persons and viewpoints.”

Twilight view of the University of North Carolina's Student Union building, with warm lights illuminating its brick façade and a vibrant sunset in the background

Source: Leiada Krozjhen/Unsplash

This shift suggests a redefinition of the university’s commitment to nondiscrimination while focusing on broader educational freedoms.

Compliance Reporting by September 1

Each school in the UNC system must now prepare a report by September 1st.

A serene walkway at the University of North Carolina with students walking along, flanked by lush trees and a clear sky above

Source: Colin Rowley/Unsplash

The report should demonstrate their adherence to the new policies on neutrality and nondiscrimination. It’s a race against the clock to align with the law.

Financial Implications and Resource Allocation

The changes aren’t just about policy; they’re financial too.

A quiet library aisle at the University of North Carolina with rows of colorful bookshelves filled with books and a solitary chair at the end

Wikimedia Commons

The upcoming reports will detail reductions in spending and staffing, aiming to redirect funds towards enhancing student success and well-being.


Awaiting Approval from the Board of Governors

The new policy will soon be presented to the Republican-majority Board of Governors for final approval.

Evening settles over the James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center with glowing lanterns illuminating the foreground and the building's warm interior lights visible through windows

Source: Leiada Krozjhen/Unsplash

If approved, this would lead to the full repeal of the current DEI policy at UNC, marking a significant transformation in the university’s approach to diversity and inclusion.


Prior Actions Against DEI Statements

Prior to this vote, the university had already taken steps towards modifying its approach to DEI.

Carroll Hall at the University of North Carolina captured during dusk with the sky exhibiting shades of blue and pink, and banners of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media displayed prominently

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In February, UNC voted to ban DEI statements and compelled speech from admission, hiring, promotion, and tenure processes, as reported by Fox News Digital.


Potential Alignment with Other States

Should the new policy be enacted, UNC could align with actions taken by other states like Texas and Florida.

The University of Texas Main Building standing tall against a clear blue sky, with students gathered around its expansive entrance steps

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In these states public universities have significantly reduced or eliminated DEI positions to comply with state legislation.


Florida’s Comprehensive DEI Elimination

In March, the University of Florida dismissed all employees in its DEI offices.

Pugh Hall at the University of Florida flanked by palm trees, showcasing the university's signage in the foreground with a clear blue sky above.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This move was part of a wider trend where public universities are reconsidering the role and scope of DEI initiatives within their institutions.


Governor DeSantis’ Endorsement of DEI Cuts

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been vocal about his stance on DEI, stating, “DEI is toxic and has no place in our public universities. I’m glad that Florida was the first state to eliminate DEI and I hope more states follow suit.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis captured mid-speech, dressed in a blue suit with a red tie, with the Florida state flag partially visible in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His comments highlight the growing political discourse surrounding DEI policies in higher education.


The Future of DEI at UNC

As the UNC policy awaits final approval, the university community and observers are closely watching to see if UNC will indeed follow the precedent set by states like Florida and Texas.

A modern building on a university campus featuring large glass windows and a covered terrace, surrounded by well-maintained landscaping and a clear sky

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The outcome could significantly influence the structure and strategy of diversity and inclusion efforts across the U.S. higher education landscape.