Senior Emilio Vicente and junior Shannon Brien said they didn’t get many answers — though they were pleased to voice student concerns and to hear directly from the board.
They said it was the first time that coalition members had held a formal sit-down with board members. The meeting included board Chairman John Fennebresque; centers and institutes working group Chairman Jim Holmes; UNC-system secretary Ann Lemmon and Association of Student Governments President Alex Parker.
Brien said they pressed Fennebresque to explain why Ross was forced to resign on Jan. 16. But she said the chairman refused to answer questions about Ross, saying only that “President Ross and the board are on the same page.”
“If you’re not able to be honest and defend the points you make, that’s what you learn in debate 101 or public service 101,” Brien said. “You’ve got to defend the choices you’ve made.”
Vicente said they asked the board members about the selection process for Ross’ successor and emphasized that having only one student involved — Parker — wasn’t enough representation for 220,000 UNC-system students. But the board members said only that Parker was the system’s designated student voice, Vicente said.
The board will meet today in Cary to discuss possible revisions to the selection process, which involves four committees. Parker said that he’s hoping to become part of the search committee and that board members have said his request is reasonable.
If he joined the search committee, Parker said it would open up the previous student spot on the leadership statement development committee — potentially allowing an additional student to be part of the process.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition calling for the board to reinstate Ross has started spreading on social media.
It was posted by a group called United for UNC — which, according to its Facebook page, includes students, faculty, staff and alumni from across the system. As of Monday night, the petition had 250 signatures.
A response post written by Amy Fennebresque Burleson, who identified herself as Fennebresque’s daughter, criticized the group for accusing the board of playing politics.
“Dad is working 50 plus hours a week for the System for FREE because he cares,” she wrote. “His decisions are not political at all. To say so is lazy and trouble causing.”
Vicente and Brien also grilled the board members on the system’s centers review. A report on the centers still in limbo, nine of them at UNC-CH, will be presented at on Feb. 27.
Holmes denied that politics played any role in the review, Vicente said.
Vicente said the board should have held an open forum for students and faculty to voice their opinions on the centers because they’re impacted most by them — and he said Fennebresque responded that they couldn’t possibly hear from every student in the system given their limited time. But Vicente said the chairman didn’t seem keen on the idea of student input in general.
Some of Fennebresque’s answers implied that student efforts to fight for the centers were fruitless, Brien said.
Still, Parker said he’s glad a meeting took place before the group reviewing the centers makes its final decisions.
“Going into that meeting, they know where students stand,” he said.