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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC students to protest research institute cuts

Emilio Vicente, senior public policy major from Siler City, leads a discussion on financial aid and other student issues at a meeting for the North Carolina Student Power Union at Campus Y on Wednesday night based around the UNC Board of Governors.
Emilio Vicente, senior public policy major from Siler City, leads a discussion on financial aid and other student issues at a meeting for the North Carolina Student Power Union at Campus Y on Wednesday night based around the UNC Board of Governors.

Thirty-four UNC-system centers are under review, including nine at UNC-Chapel Hill. The UNC BOG Democracy Coalition, an organization that was started in September 2014, is organizing Friday’s sit-in.

“On Friday, we want to remind the BOG that students are still aware of their impending decision, and we’ll be there to have a presence of students and show that we care about the decisions they make for our University,” said Emilio Vicente, a senior and one of the founders of the coalition.

The coalition has collected more than 2,500 signatures on a petition asking the BOG to stop plans to cut funding or terminate UNC-system research and advocacy centers.

“I think a lot of these centers help make the campus a safe space, which historically, it hasn’t been for everyone,” said senior Catherine Crowe, a sit-in participant.

The final decision regarding the centers’ statuses was originally planned for this week, but it has been postponed until the board’s February meeting in Charlotte.

UNC students are already making plans to go to the meeting in February.

“We’re definitely going to try to have a handful of students go to Charlotte,” Vicente said. “Of the 34 UNC centers under review, nine are in Chapel Hill and none are in Charlotte.”

Centers and institutes working group chairman, Jim Holmes, declined to comment while board member, Steven Long, did not respond to request to comment.

“I can’t be sure of this, but since the Chapel Hill students have made a big statement against the BOG so far, it may have made them more likely to postpone their meeting,” said Dinesh McCoy, co-president of the Campus Y.

“Our campus won’t be fulfilling its mission as a public university if these centers are terminated,” McCoy said.

“For the most part, these centers are ones that deal with issues of diversity, or in case of the Women’s Center, sexual assault and prevention. If those aren’t the priorities of the University, then I don’t think the University has the right priorities.”

Vicente said the coalition’s original goal was to unite students in petitioning the board and engage more students in the board’s decision-making process.

“About 30 students came to the December BOG meeting that took place during finals, so (the BOG) can see that students care,” Vicente said.

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