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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

UNC Board OKs $2.3M Cut to DEI Programs as Schools Face Fallout from Wokeness

'A wise decision by UNC-Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees to dismantle DEI and reallocate funds to public safety and policing. Hopefully the beginning of a trend...'

(Funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs totaling $2.3 million is being transferred from to public safety and policing at the nation’s oldest public university and flagship campus in the University of North Carolina System.

The Board of Trustees approved the change Monday at a special meeting on the upcoming budget.

The alteration could result in the loss of its diversity office, led by 12 regular staff including a vice provost making more than $315,000 annually.

The move was praised by Republicans on House Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as committee chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., a UNC graduate.

A wise decision by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees to dismantle DEI and reallocate funds to public safety and policing,” the committee tweeted. “Hopefully the beginning of a trend.”

The reallocation appeared to be the culmination of several pressure points on the school, which, along with Harvard University, was one of the two schools specifically named in a pair of landmark lawsuits last year that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the practice of affirmative action.

Unlike other institutions, UNC also faces pressure from the state’s conservative legislature, which now has a supermajority and can override the veto of Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, perhaps incentivizing its sudden rightward pivot.

However, it also comes amid the backdrop of nationwide pro-Hamas demonstrations on college campuses, which recently foisted UNC into the spotlight, this time for positive reasons after a group of fraternity brothers protected the American flag which radical activists were attempting to replace with a Palestinian one.

Some Twitter users noted the timing of the two events.

Despite the frat boys’ efforts, though, public safety drew attention leading up to Saturday’s graduation with a pro-Palestinian encampment on the famed Polk Place quad.

Dave Boliek, budget chairman and candidate for state auditor in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff, said Carolina could lead and be ahead of potential changes from a vote by the UNC Board of Governors that has authority over all 17 campuses.

In April, a committee within the Board of Governors recommended changes to DEI policy that appeared to eliminate positions. The 24-member board votes next week, and an alteration would take effect immediately.

At Carolina, there is a 12-member office. Their titles and annual salary per the UNC System database:

• Dr. Leah Cox: vice provost of Equity and Inclusion, and the chief diversity officer; $317,538.

• Trish Harris: senior director of Education, Operations and Initiatives; $116,626.

• Toska Cooper: coordinator of Projects and Planning; $96,720.

• Cloe Liparini: director of Education, Community Engagement and Belonging; salary unconfirmed.

• Ari Weinbaum: assistant director, Education, Community Engagement, Strategic Initiatives; $71,796.

• Yesenia Pedro Vicente: assistant director of Student Access, Success and Engagement; $78,000.

• Tray Good: assistant director of Student Access, Success and Engagement; $60,840.

• Tran (Annie) Phun: program coordinator, Student Access, Success, and Engagement; $56,545.

• Theo Horne: marketing, communications specialist; $60,000.

• Tammy Siler Belcher: business services coordinator; $57,200.

• Stacy Reynolds: executive assistant; $56,812.

• Charlie Taylor: accounting technician; $55,640.

Graduate assistants and student ambassadors are also part of the staff, according to the university’s website.

Changing policies with regard to DEI offices and initiatives are happening throughout the country.

In Florida, public colleges cannot use state and federal funds for DEI.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed law requiring all state-funded colleges and universities to close such offices.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a law prohibiting diversity training, hiring and inclusion programs at universities and in state government.

More than 30 states have introduced such bills to ban or limit initiatives in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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