UNC students are known for promoting social justice issues, and now faculty are joining in the fight.
The Faculty Executive Committee and the Faculty Council voted unanimously to support the “One State, One Rate” campaign last month.
The campaign, launched Sept. 9, 2013, aims to give in-state tuition to students without documentation who received a high school diploma from a North Carolina high school or a GED within the state and lived in North Carolina for two consecutive years immediately prior to graduation.
Currently, undocumented students are required to pay out-of-state tuition and are not eligible to receive state or federal financial aid.
Faculty at UNC are the first in the system to show support for the campaign.
“UNC-CH is leading the conversation in in-state tuition,” said Emilio Vicente, one of the leaders of the campaign. “It’s about educating our future leaders, and I think the faculty understand that.”
Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the faculty, said it is the faculty’s duty to start the conversation on giving in-state tuition to undocumented students.
“Our belief is that if we are here to educate the people of N.C., and these have been long-term residents, then at least there should be some consideration of their plight,” Boxill said.
Boxill said the UNC Board of Governors relies on faculty members across the UNC system to alert them to the issues that exist on the various campuses but said their actual influence on the board is minimal.
She also said the faculty’s influence on Chancellor Carol Folt and the Board of Trustees is merely advisory.
Daniela Hernandez Blanco, another member of the campaign, said the unanimous decision by the faculty council is an endorsement from educators.
“It shows that educators are aware of what’s going on,” Blanco said. “They are aware that they have students who are undocumented in their classrooms.”
Vicente said he hopes Folt and the Board of Trustees become part of the issue in the spring, and he wants to engage as many students as possible in the campaign.
“We want to continue this diverse coalition and share our stories as to why education is really important to us as students, faculty and staff on this campus,” Vicente said.
The campaign is awaiting a formal legal opinion from N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has not said what his stance is on the issue.
“I think he has no reason to not support the campaign,” Blanco said.
“He has one duty: to support the law as it is written. There is nothing within the N.C. constitution that prohibits undocumented students from getting in-state tuition.”
Vicente said he and other members of the campaign are dedicated to making the campaign a long-term commitment, he but hopes the campaign will achieve its goals by the end of this academic year.
“We’re really hopeful and optimistic that (Cooper) will make a positive announcement in the next few weeks,” Vicente said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.