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Students to protest Board of Governors over gender-neutral decision

UNC students, tired of feeling ignored by the UNC-system Board of Governors, will march a mile to the board’s meeting on Friday to make their voices heard.

The Board of Governors will have committee meetings today and meet as a full board on Friday. Students will rally at the meeting to show their dissatisfaction with the board’s apparent lack of accessibility, said Stephanie Nieves-Rios, co-president of the UNC Sexuality and Gender Alliance and one of the rally’s organizers.

The event was catalyzed by the board’s recent decision to ban gender-neutral housing on campus, she said.

The board had voted to ban gender-neutral housing for the entire UNC system in early August, when most students were off campus and unaware the issue was on the agenda. The vote overruled an earlier decision by the UNC Board of Trustees to allow gender-neutral housing on campus.

Nieves-Rios said the decision to offer gender-neutral housing at UNC came from a lot of student effort and collaboration.

“Their decision to strike that down shows the disconnect between the Board of Governors and the student community,” she said.

A collaboration of student groups, including UNC Student Power, SAGA and Students Working for Adequation of Genders, will meet in the Pit at 8:30 a.m. and lead the march to the UNC-system General Administration building on Raleigh Road, said A.J. Karon, another organizer and committee co-chairman for SWAG.

Students will not be allowed to speak during the meeting because it is not a public hearing, said Joni Worthington, system spokeswoman, in an email.

But Karon said the rally will feature student speakers like John Guzek, speaker pro tempore of UNC Student Congress.

He said the emphasis is not on bashing the board or asking for reform, but on stressing the need for students on the board, which currently has one nonvoting student member in UNC-system Association of Student Governments President Robert Nunnery.

“This is an opportunity for the UNC student body to really make a big impact on the future of the University,” Karon said.

Matt Hickson, a UNC May graduate who works with Student Power, said the event will initiate a conversation that will keep going until the board starts listening.

“They can’t wait us out,” Hickson said. “This won’t be a one time thing — this will be a consistent effort to educate students about the board that represents them.”

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