RALEIGH (March 23, 2023) – Now we’ve joined some fine company.
The General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations asked the UNC System last week for an exhaustive inventory of employee training programs and costs across the system’s 17 campuses “which cover the subject matters of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (‘DEIA’) or other similar topics.”
“For purpose of this letter, ‘DEIA’ includes, but is not limited to, those subject matters which reference or discuss ‘diversity’, ‘equity’, ‘inclusion’, ‘accessibility’, ‘racism’, ‘anti-racism’, ‘anti-racist’, ‘oppression’, ‘internalized oppression’, ‘systemic racism’, ‘sexism’, ‘gender’, ‘LGBTQ+’, ‘white supremacy’, ‘unconscious bias’, ‘bias’, ‘microaggressions’, ‘critical race theory’, ‘intersectionality’, or ‘social justice.’”1
The request, first reported by NC Policy Watch, drew attention as part of a nationwide movement in Republican-controlled states against diversity programs on public university campuses.
The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that North Carolina now joins Florida, Oklahoma and South Carolina in making such requests of its public universities.2
In North Carolina’s legislature, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations is co-chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. It consists of some of the most influential members of both houses of the General Assembly.
But as Ned Barnett of The News & Observer noted, it’s “especially rich” that the request comes from the commission otherwise known as “Gov Ops,” because the commission itself is not so representative of North Carolina’s population.
Of its 38 members and four ex officio members, five (12%) are Black and 31 (74%) are white males.3 Just nine (21%) are female.4 Perhaps House of Representatives is a misnomer.
The request is just the latest example of legislative overreach and micromanagement of the UNC System.
Further, the legislature appoints the UNC Board of Governors to govern the university system – shouldn’t legislators let the Board of Governors oversee the system, unless this is simply a move to score political points?
“Lawmakers pressing UNC to reduce or end its diversity training helps no one, including white applicants and employees. What it will do is accelerate the departure of Black faculty members and send a signal to Black students that they are unwelcome. Both groups are already underrepresented on campuses outside of the system’s historically black colleges and universities,” Barnett wrote.
“The University of North Carolina is the nation’s oldest public university. It should strive to respect all the people it serves, people far more diverse than the makeup of the Joint Commission on Governmental Operations.”5
4 https://www.ncleg.gov/Committees/CommitteeInfo/NonStanding/152/Membership. 5https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article273383150.html.