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The Daily Tar Heel

Students organize 'teach-out' for Art Pope lecture at UNC

Art Pope, budget director for Gov. Pat McCrory, will be speaking at UNC today — and some students are responding with a message of their own.

Pope, who has been the subject of controversy for his large donations to conservative causes, will deliver a talk to Chairwoman of the Faculty Jan Boxill’s Philosophy 562 course at 12:30 p.m.

Various student groups have organized a “teach-out” to take place outside of Gardner Hall during Pope’s lecture.

Matt Hickson, senior business major and organizer of the teach-out, said the outdoor alternate class is being held to educate students about the political climate of the state and Pope’s involvement with McCrory’s administration.

McCrory’s 2013-14 budget proposal includes a cut of more than $55 million to UNC-system schools.

The decrease would come after a cut in 2011 of $414 million that caused universities to eliminate 3,000 positions and hundreds of course sections.

“We’re trying to put a face to budget cuts,” said Zaina Alsous, senior political science major and an organizer of the teach-out. She is also a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel.

“It’s not just numbers, it’s students who could lose access to public education.”

Boxill said Pope will be speaking about the role and purpose of education and whether it is a human right.

Boxill said Pope is not being paid to speak.

“He did not anticipate this to be a public lecture.”

Boxill said she anticipates that people not enrolled in the class will want to attend the lecture. She said her students will be able to ask Pope questions following the talk.

“He certainly supports education — in what way, I’m not sure,” Boxill said.

She said it is a good idea to hear people speak who have different views.

“I figured I should hear from someone who has a lot to say.”

Alsous said the purpose of the teach-out is to talk about the current political crisis and how students can play a role in the political process.

Alsous said she and other organizers think it’s important to hold Pope and other leaders accountable.

“The first step is empowering students as political actors and hopefully preventing Art Pope and this legislature from defunding our future,” she said.

Hickson said he hopes students know they have a role in the discussion and a voice to be heard.

“Art Pope has gotten a lot of opportunities to show us his perspective on the community we live in,” he said.

“Tomorrow is the chance to give our perspective; we’ve heard enough of his.”

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