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TransparUNCy hosts teach-in on financial influence in the UNC System

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Photo courtesy of transparUNCy

On March 27, students and faculty members attended a teach-in event hosted by the Affirmative Action Coalition at UNC-Chapel Hill and TransparUNCy.

The teach-in explored topics including UNC Board of Governors member Art Pope and their concerns about possible risks to higher education.

TransparUNCy is a student organization that began as a project within the AAC following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that effectively ended the use of affirmative action in university admissions last summer.

Toby Posel, co-founder of TransparUNCy and co-policy chair of the AAC, said he was scared by the direction public universities were headed and hoped that the organization would help raise student awareness about the history of the UNC System.

Last Wednesday's teach-in was the first of many that the organization plans to organize.

Posel and Julian Taylor, fellow co-founder of TransparUNCy and off-campus outreach chair of AAC, began the teach-in by discussing the financial connection between UNC interim Chancellor Lee Roberts and conservative donor Pope.

They also connected UNC to current political debates in higher education across the country — for example recent efforts to limit state diversity, equity and inclusion programs in higher education in Alabama and Kentucky.

Alexander Denza, co-president of UNC's chapter of March for Our Lives and organizer with the Southern Student Action Coalition, said the current recommended defunding of programs at UNC Greensboro is an example of a "coordinated attack" against education and a system-wide issue.

Taylor said students want to see their education be sustainable and inclusive.

“We see what happened in Florida, we see what just happened in Kentucky, we see what happened in Alabama. And we know that North Carolina is next," he said

Posel said he thinks the main reason students are not more aware of the issue is that they are only in college for four years and have no institutional memory. Therefore, it is hard for students to fully grasp the context of how decisions today are being made, he said.

Jasper Schutt, a senior who attended the event, said he was shocked when he learned what the organization said was going on within the UNC System. He said administrators can talk in bureaucratic ways about free discourse, but it's important for students to understand what is really happening in the System.

"When you have people like TransparUNCy and some student journalists who are doing Freedom of Information Act requests on their emails, you can see how these people are talking about education in our state, [they] don't want anything about race or gender or anything that is kind of vaguely critical to be taught," he said. "And I think it's really, really serious.”

The teach-in ended with a discussion about how UNC students can take action. Posel and Taylor encouraged attendees to continue going to the teach-ins and invite others.

Denza brought attention to the listening forums for the permanent chancellor search this week and encouraged students to attend those. TransparUNCy is also planning to hold a similar listening forum on campus on April 24.

“Every single student on our campus is implicated in this, whether they like it or not, whether they know about it or not, this is not something that you can refuse to pay attention to,” Posel said. “Your education will suffer over the next number of years or the next two years, five years, 10 years, because of the political movement that is happening in state government, on the Board of Governors, on the Board of Trustees."

A second teach-in covering the same content will be held on Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. in the Student Union.

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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