The UNC-system Board of Governors announced Monday they are relocating their upcoming meeting from the University of North Carolina at Asheville to Chapel Hill.
A public notice issued by the board said the meeting will take place at the UNC Center for School Leadership Development Thursday and Friday.
Joni Worthington, spokesperson for the UNC system, said via email the change was prompted by safety concerns.
“UNC-Asheville Chancellor (Mary) Grant spoke with President Spellings and Chairman Bissette about the potential for large numbers of protesters at the board meetings and the disruption that might cause to academic and other activities at UNC-Asheville,” she said. “UNC-Asheville is a small campus that would have limited resources to deal with such a scenario.”
UNC-system President Margaret Spellings will still visit UNC-A this week as part of her system-wide tour.
Juliet Flam-Ross, a first-year at UNC-A who intended to protest on Friday, said student groups initially planned a larger protest advocating for a new system president and greater student involvement in board activities. Plans were scaled down after students experienced pushback from UNC-A administrators, Flam-Ross said.
“Within the past week or so, we’ve witnessed a lot of scare tactics,” she said. “We were kind of moving towards what probably would have been a pretty tame and calm protest — just maybe taking up space in the building.”
Flam-Ross said the board’s decision to move the meeting was disappointing, but she sees the change as a victory.
“I think that the fact that they moved the meeting just goes to show shows that they know they’re doing something wrong,” she said.
She said Friday is Admitted Student Day at UNC-A, which could have contributed to the board’s decision.
“They don’t want the admitted students to know our campus isn’t perfect,” she said.
UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Brian Fields said he does not understand the decision to move the meeting to Chapel Hill.
“I’m just really shocked that they chose UNC-Chapel Hill as a way to escape activism, because I don’t think that’s what they’re going to find when they come here,” he said.
Flam-Ross said she and other student protesters are organizing carpools to Chapel Hill.
“It’s frustrating for me because I feel like where we are geographically doesn’t really allow us to have as much of a voice as we’d like to here at UNC-Asheville,” she said. “But on the other hand, I’m really glad that it’s going to be at Chapel Hill because there’s going to be a huge turnout.”
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