The UNC Board of Governors, made up of 32 politically appointed voting members who make policy for the UNC system, was spotlighted Wednesday in a teach-in held by the UNC BOG Democracy Coalition at the Campus Y.
The coalition, which launched in October, has been spreading a petition across campus with four demands for improved transparency on the board — including a public comments section during board meetings.
Board members have said students should contact them directly if they have questions or concerns. Dinesh McCoy, co-president of the Campus Y, said some students have talked with board members but they didn’t feel that members were taking them seriously.
“We’ve been laughed at in a lot of cases,” he said.
Senior Emilio Vicente said he remembers facing disappointment after working on UNC’s gender-neutral housing campaign in 2013. The policy was approved by UNC’s Board of Trustees but struck down by the Board of Governors.
“It’s been frustrating that now I’m a senior and not much has changed since I’ve been here,” he said.
Senior Blanche Brown said the makeup of the board doesn’t reflect the background or gender of most students at UNC or other campuses.
UNC-system 2013 preliminary enrollment figures show the state’s 220,000 public university students are 60.6 percent white, 20.8 percent black and 4.7 percent Hispanic. System enrollment data from 2012 showed 56.7 percent women and 43.3 percent men.
Alban Foulser and Maddy Frumkin, co-chairwomen of Project Dinah, spoke about the board’s decision in May to trim UNC students’ health fee by eliminating funding for non-health related initiatives — including Project Dinah’s event “Orgasm? Yes Please!”
“The Board of Governors directly targeted that event,” Frumkin said.
The meeting included students speaking to the group about key Board of Governors issues of the past two years — including tuition, gender-neutral housing and the 15 percent need-based aid cap — and a 10-minute session of small group discussions.
McCoy said the group will continue meeting on Monday evenings in the Campus Y.
Students suggested using social media to spread the word about the coalition and the Board of Governors and to connect issues directly to student groups. Vicente encouraged people to write letters to the editor.
Board members are already talking about the campaign, said senior Catherine Crowe.
Junior Shannon Brien described attending the October Board of Governors meeting with a small group of students just after the coalition was founded — she said board members immediately reacted to the appearance of students.
“We have power just in our presence.”