The walkout — protesting UNC-system President Margaret Spellings’ first day on the job — was organized by the UNC-Chapel Hill BOG Democracy Coalition and Faculty Forward, among other organizations.
Protesters took to the steps of Wilson Library, wielding signs while select protesters spoke out about Spellings and her public record.
Madeleine Scanlon, a UNC senior arrested at a Board of Governors meeting earlier this year, said the main goal of the walkout was to educate students across the UNC system about Spellings and the board.
“People don’t know who the Board of Governors are — they don’t understand why Margaret Spellings needs to go,” Scanlon said.
Other walkouts were coordinated with other UNC-system schools. According to Ignite NC, a progressive grassroots organization, more than 5,000 students protested across six campuses.
The UNC-Chapel Hill walkout focused on Spellings’ role in implementing No Child Left Behind, her tenure on the board of directors at the Apollo Education Group, Inc. — the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix — as well as her stance on LGBT issues and recent board policies affecting historically black colleges and universities.
UNC senior June Beshea, a protester who spoke at the rally and uses the pronoun they, addressed the history of HBCUs and the repercussions of the recent budget cuts against them.
“Historically black colleges and universities are a huge part of the black community,” they said. “Whether we go there or not, they’re a part of us. So to see them being attacked this way is a personal attack, not just on ourselves but on our community and on our way of life.”