The Connect N.C. Bond Act proposes almost $1 billion in new building projects and improvements to campuses across the UNC system, in addition to improvements in public safety, transportation, and parks and natural resources. The only addition to UNC’s campus would be a $68 million medical education building replacement.
Representative Dean Arp, deputy majority whip for the North Carolina General Assembly, presented the bond act to the board on Thursday. He said permission for the package would need to be granted through a voter referendum.
“Your support — it makes a difference,” Arp said. “If you can communicate to your family here in Chapel Hill about what this does, we can take this. When we ask the public to take on debt, it really needs to be their choice.”
Arp said critics do not want the state of North Carolina to take on more debt, but he said now is the time that makes the most sense to finance the bond package.
“I think we have a great responsibility and opportunity to not defer and divest in the capitol needs of our state,” Arp said.
Chancellor Carol Folt said she supports the proposal and the project at UNC specifically.
“That was the project we felt was very important to get going,” Folt said in a press conference.
Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center
The Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center is educating athletes about when a concussion is serious and requires medical attention, among other projects.
“We look forward to continuing this work. We enjoy the campus support we have here,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, co-director of the center. “We’ve come a long way since 1995.”
Jason Mihalik, an exercise and sport science professor, said the center screens all incoming first-year student-athletes in a series of tests, including cognitive and balance testing.
“If they don’t get injured, we have the great pleasure of never seeing them again,” Mihalik said. “But if they do, they have a good relationship with our clinical staff.”
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Mihalik said members of UNC’s football team experience anywhere from three to 15 concussions per year. He said other sports, including volleyball and crew, also have high concussion rates.
“One thing that we do see a lot in our student-athletes is motor vehicle crashes, mostly scooters,” Mihalik said. “We see those around campus, and there are people on campus instructing athletes on scooter safety, and how to manage the roadways while driving.”
Campus Race Relations
In a press conference during Thursday’s board meeting, Folt discussed the controversy at the University of Missouri. She said she’s seen similar issues getting increasing attention at UNC.
"A lot of the stories that are being shared here on our own campus are very personal, and they’re painful, and they’re hurtful," Folt said. "So people, I think, are feeling more comfortable and more determined to talk.”
Folt said she looks forward to having conversations about inclusivity with faculty as part of the Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill’s History. She said presentations will be given at future faculty meetings to bring faculty into the conversation on gender, race and sexual assault.
“Faculty themselves want to be part of that conversation, because they want to see things improve too," Folt said. "This is an attempt to bring all of those pieces together.”
Assistant University Editor Acy Jackson contributed reporting.