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UNC faculty asks the BOG to vote against closing the Center for Civil Rights

Law School

The Van Hecke-Wettach Hall hosts UNC's School of Law.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Executive Committee asked the UNC Board of Governors to vote against closing the Center for Civil Rights

The committee passed a resolution Thursday saying the proposed policy "makes it harder for campuses within the system to pursue their mission."

The resolution said the policy constrains the way faculty trains students, harms the University's reputation and could threaten its accreditation.

The policy will ban UNC-system centers and institutes from “act(ing) as legal counsel to any third party” or “employ(ing) or engag(ing), directly or indirectly, any individual to act as legal counsel to any third party.” 

The committee argued that the policy bars lawyers from counseling, negotiating, drafting legal instruments, providing legal opinions, mediating, investigating and "many other things." 

Because of this, the resolution said the policy should be known for more than just being a "litigation ban."

Faculty participating in centers and institutes "serve the public, enhance the education and training of students and carry out research to create new knowledge." 

Faculty from a variety of disciplines provide services for centers, but the policy singles out "legal services," the resolution said. 

"If there is a justification for decreeing that a professor of engineering may evaluate the ergonomics of a small business’s workplace through a Center, but a professor of law may not assist that same business by drafting a contract, we do not perceive it," it continued. 

The resolution also addressed concerns about accreditation. 

"While it is appropriate for BOG to set general policies, matters of curriculum and student training should be left to faculty, who are in the best position to judge how to focus their efforts in these areas," the resolution said. 

Leslie Parise, chairperson of the UNC-CH faculty, said in an email to the faculty that the resolution will be passed on to the UNC-system Faculty Assembly for "appropriate action."

The assembly acts as a faculty advisory body on system-wide issues to UNC President Margaret Spellings, the UNC General Administration, the BOG and the North Carolina General Assembly.

Parise's email said the faculty "are understandably concerned about recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and on our own campus over the past several days." She said the situation is complex and the information the public is getting can be incomplete or incorrect and can lead to wrong conclusions.

"I thank you all for your patience as we engage with our leadership about options for addressing issues that concern our campus community," she said.

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