However, if we have more than enough liberal faculty at the University already, that means to even the ideological playing field, we need to actively seek conservative faculty members. Given the goals of the BOT, it is impossible that the hiring process will be apolitical.
Civic life and leadership are already abundant at UNC
Instead of including faculty in the creation and implementation of the school and making an effort to ensure the values of “civic life and leadership” are spread throughout the University, this new school effectively packs courses into one echo chamber of right-leaning thinking. Where have we heard that before?
Our University should already be a school of civic life and leadership, regardless of your discipline or political views. Courses in the new school will largely overlap the materials taught in other existing classes, wasting resources and fostering administrative confusion.
New conservative school, same conservative strategy
Ultimately, the BOT’s proposal was not out of an earnest desire to better the University. This action is indicative of attitudes, mirrored in the state and national politics, towards UNC and institutions like it as ideological combatants.
Ideological combativeness such as this is also present in the N.C. General Assembly. For instance, the NC REACH ACT, a pitiful derivative of former President Donald Trump’s ill-fated 1776 Commission, requires a class on the basics of American government in order to graduate from a UNC System university. The act itself was introduced on the divisive rhetoric that institutions of higher education, like UNC, are centers of liberal indoctrination.
It’s easy to tout the idea of liberal dominance. It’s a recognition that many of the young people and academics that make up higher education lean left. But if you’re interested in political dominance, we urge you to look to positions of power. A BOT and even a General Assembly with a conservative vision for UNC are indicative of which way meaningful and systemic political influences lean.
What about free speech?
The concept of self-censorship is too often used as a defense for this egregious overstep of administrative power. Those wary of voicing their views, out of fear of damaging relationships or villainizing themselves in the eyes of professors, often opt for silencing themselves.
If you are in perpetual fear of consequences for the things you have to say, it’s time to take a personal inventory of your views and ask why they might alienate your peers or have consequences – and why you do are unwilling to be held accountable for those views.
Let us be clear. There is no free speech crisis at UNC. We have a crisis of campus employees not being paid livable wages. We have a crisis of not being able to hire and retain faculty members of color. We have a pervasive sexual assault crisis. A lead in the water crisis. A billion-dollar maintenance backlog crisis.
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But, a free speech crisis? We don’t think so.
To suggest you cannot comfortably be conservative in a country, state and academic institution with deeply conservative roots is to take on a victim complex that does not mirror the reality of right-leaning lived experiences.
The audacity of politicians to dictate class content down to the exact percentage weight of exams is indicative of their distrust and disrespect of educators. Politicians' involvement in education is politicizing education. Not the other way around.
This isn’t a proposal on behalf of a righteous conviction for promoting “civic leadership.” Millions of volunteer hours compiled and the swathes of student-led philanthropic clubs and organizations prove civic leadership is already in abundance. It’s the fact that UNC is predominantly liberal — the “wrong” kind of civic engagement in the eyes of the BOT.
Free speech and unbiased curricula are important, and no one's voice should feel stifled in the classroom. But is it the students and faculty who are scared of liberal discourse, or the BOT? They’ve certainly overstepped their job description to remedy it.