". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


UNC-Chapel Hill Becomes Latest University to Defund DEI Programs

May 14, 2024

The fourth largest university in North Carolina is defunding its DEI programs to invest in campus security instead, in the wake of tumultuous pro-Palestine protests and encampments. On Monday morning, the Board of Trustees of University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill voted unanimously to divert over $2 million from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs into public safety.

Marty Kotis, vice chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, pointed to the recent actions of pro-Palestine demonstrators on campus — including building an encampment on campus and tearing down an American flag and replacing it with a Palestinian flag — as a reason to increase funds for campus safety. “When you destroy property or you take down the U.S. flag, and you have to put up gates around it — that costs money,” Kotis said. “It’s imperative that we have the proper resources for law enforcement to protect the campus.”

Budget and Finance Committee Chair David Boliek added, “The $2.3 million would be an added help to what is probably a budget issue with respect to how much we’re having to spend on law enforcement right now.”

Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand, “The move at UNC from DEI to campus police is important because it represents not just taking control of an institution from ideologically dangerous concepts, but also reimagining the use of funds for another (antithetical in this case) purpose.” She added, “Conservatives often refuse to ‘use government,’ but that approach will not allow for the dismantling of governmental overreach.”

Last year, resolving a series of lawsuits against Harvard University and the UNC system, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Following that ruling, UNC’s board of governors voted to eliminate a policy mandating DEI offices and implement a new policy of “institutional neutrality.” A final vote on the changes will be held later this month.

Kotis explained on Monday, “I think that DEI in a lot of people’s minds is divisiveness, exclusion, and indoctrination. We need more unity and togetherness, more dialogue, more diversity of thought.” Boliek stated, “I think that DEI is divisive. I don’t think it’s productive. I don’t think it gives a return on investment to taxpayers and to the institution itself.” Notably, DEI initiatives and offices have been linked to the rise in pro-Palestine protests, demonstrations, and encampments across university and college campuses.

UNC is far from the only university system to eliminate and defund DEI programs and offices. Last year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a law banning any “Florida College System institution” from “spending federal or state dollars on discriminatory initiatives, such as so called ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)’ programs.”

Similarly, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) issued an executive order in December demanding “state agencies and institutes for higher education to initiate a review of DEI positions, departments, activities, procedures, and programs to eliminate and dismiss non-critical personnel.” The order further prohibited state funds from going to programs or initiatives that “grant preferential treatment” based on “race, color, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.”

In December, Wisconsin’s Republican-led state legislature rebuffed the state’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers and defunded DEI offices and programs in the University of Wisconsin system, slashing over $30 million from the school’s budget. Earlier this year, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed into law a measure barring any “state agency, local board of education, or public institution of higher education” from sponsoring or funding a DEI office, program, or department.

In addition, the University of Texas system announced last month it would be eliminating all DEI offices, departments, positions, and programs in compliance with state law. Texas state Senator Brandon Creighton (R), chair of the Texas Senate’s Education Committee and Higher Education Subcommittee, warned university officials that his committee would be holding hearings to ensure that universities were in fact complying with the state’s prohibition against DEI.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.