About 30 student protestors marched from the Pit to the UNC-system Board of Governors meeting Friday, determined to bring attention to how students could be affected by budget cuts and tuition hikes.
Board members voted to eliminate 60 degree programs systemwide and increase tuition by an average of $208 for undergraduate in-state students in an effort to offset the expected decrease in state funding.
“We must avoid permanent damage to the University,” said UNC-system President Thomas Ross at the meeting.
There needs to be a balance between quality and access, he said. Although the board decided to approve the increases proposed by most campuses, tuition at UNC-system schools remains much lower than that at peer institutions nationwide.
“But I know that’s no consolation to those trying to find the dollars,” Ross said.
The protestors, members of N.C. Defend Education Coalition, chanted and held signs outside the Spangler Center — the meeting place of the board — until they were invited inside by board members.
The coalition is made up of UNC-CH students and drop-outs from across the UNC system, who were demonstrating against the tuition hikes, program cuts and faculty layoffs, among other issues.
The coalition is seeking the attention of the board because it is one of the largest lobbying groups in the state, said UNC junior Laurel Ashton and a member of the coalition.
“Higher education is not a privilege, it is a right — a right we’re willing to fight for,” she said.