Members of the University community are protesting the possibility that UNC might accept money from the Raleigh-based John William Pope Foundation to fund a Western civilization program.
Though guarding against the influence of outside groups on the University and protecting the spirit of academic freedom are noble goals, this funding proposal should be no cause for consternation.
Last week, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation Senate voted decisively to condemn the University's potential use of Pope Foundation money as the backer for a Western studies program. Included in the GPSF's stand against Art and John William Pope are complaints about the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a conservative watchdog group that has been a particularly ardent critic of the University and UNC programs, including the Latino studies minor and the cultural diversity requirement.
Yes, the Pope Foundation and the Pope Center are related - originally linked by the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank - and still tied together by the Pope family. But even if two groups share a namesake, it doesn't automatically mean they are one and the same in terms of purpose.
The center certainly has criticized the University, particularly in regard to programs focused on race, gender and sexuality.