Whenever frustration, disappointment or even anger is felt toward the UNC administration and governing bodies, who do you blame?
It could be Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who faced much criticism on UNC’s botched reopening plan in the fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It could be the Board of Trustees, which failed to approve Nikole Hannah-Jones’ application for tenure despite many recommendations for approval. Or maybe it’s the Board of Governors, which decided to provide $2.5 million to the Sons of Confederate Veterans to continue the preservation of the fallen Silent Sam monument until the deal was voided by a judge.
Obviously, there’s a clear disconnect between students and leaders.
The power structure and appointment of leaders in the UNC School System are two important factors in understanding this disconnect. The UNC System is governed by the Board of Governors, which has responsibility for the planning, development and overall governance of the UNC System.
The Board of Governors has 24 voting members that serve terms of four years. Members are elected by the Senate and House of Representatives of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Currently, both the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives have a Republican majority. This is reflected in the BOG's makeup. Of the 24 members, 16 are white men, the rest being women and BIPOC. This means white men make up two-thirds of a system that holds most of the power over UNC-Chapel Hill.
In sharp contrast, UNC has a student body that is almost 60 percent female. In addition, nearly 35 percent of its student body is BIPOC.
For a university that claims to advocate for diversity and representation, the UNC school system fails to provide this representation of students within its leadership.
But what power does the Board of Governors really have?