UNC Chapel Hill’s fall semester starting a week earlier made us quite the sacrificial lamb in the nation, and the already-expected consequence of opening — an egregious endangerment of students, faculty and communities — is now abundantly clear.
The UNC System Board of Governors, meanwhile, has remained silent, moving forward with the openings of UNC System schools across the state. And sadly, I can’t be surprised they aren’t speaking up to save lives — it must be hard to talk with silver spoons in their mouths.
The old, white wealthy men comprising the BOG leadership seem to only see value when it’s followed by a dollar sign. The livelihood of North Carolinians? The intrinsic value of higher education? The recommendations of health departments and epidemiologists? The sanity of students? Irrelevant to these men who base worth and faux happiness in commercial prosperity.
In a state that funds education partly through a lottery, it’s honestly on-brand for our leaders to roll the dice on losing countless lives and students’ wellness to maximize tuition checks.
Enough of gaslighting students by blaming “off-campus activities” for the crisis. Even if students remained isolated in their cinder block dorm, they shared bathrooms with an entire suite or an entire hall, and they were in crowded dining halls and poorly-ventilated lecture halls. Sure, students share fault in their slip-in-slides and fraternity parties, but universities know thousands of incoming first-years are bound to socialize. First-years crave meeting new people and some semblance of normalcy, which is only abetted by the UNC System downplaying the inevitable spread of a severely contagious virus.
On Monday, UNC System President Peter Hans claimed the shift to remote instruction at UNC-Chapel Hill does not impact other UNC campuses, claiming, "Each campus is different, and I expect situations to evolve differently.” But make no mistake, UNC-Chapel Hill is no anomaly. What has happened here, at Notre Dame and at Michigan State will happen at each and every university that chooses to open dormitories this fall. UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Greensboro and every school within the UNC System will share a fate we know all too well.
BOG members are greedy, but they are not as stupid as you’d imagine. They are fully aware that thousands of students are moving across North Carolina and the country, become infected and be abruptly sent back home. It’s not just the students’ displaced life at stake, but the lives of their parents who drive their infected child home, their siblings and grandparents who live in the same house and the home communities to which they are tied.
But the BOG doesn’t care.
Money is money, even if it’s soaked in the blood of our Confederate past or our pandemic present. Lives are to be lost, but money is to be made.