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The Little DeSantises of North Carolina

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The same people who denies Nikole Hannah-Jones a tenured position at the University of North Carolina based on her politics continue their war on what was once one of the finest public universities in the United States.

When UNC law professor Eric Muller first read the editorial headline, he said his eyes fell out of his head. 

On Jan. 26, the Faculty Executive Committee member was in a Zoom meeting when he saw a screenshot of a Wall Street Journal editorial titled “UNC Takes on the University Echo Chamber.”

“I thought: how on Earth? How on Earth could the Wall Street Journal know this,” Muller said. 

The UNC Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Thursday to “accelerate” the creation of a new program — the School of Civic Life and Leadership. 

Provost Chris Clemens said at a Monday Faculty Executive Committee meeting that he didn’t know the resolution was coming from the Board — “I was surprised,” he said.

Proposals for new schools, degrees and curriculums have historically come from faculty leaders and their vote is required for approval.

Muller said no member of the faculty knew of this “major development.”

The announcement of the School comes after a series of tensions regarding University leadership and many see the announcement of the School as a political decision.

“If you get praised by the Wall Street Journal (Editorial) page, you’re getting praised for being a conservative,” Thorp said. 

David Boliek, chairperson of the BOT, gave an interview about the resolution Saturday to Fox & Friends.  The Daily Tar Heel reached out to Boliek for comment, but he did not respond but the time of publication. Other members of the board referred comment to Boliek or did not respond for comment. 

“We have no shortage of faculty with progressive, left-wing views,” Boliek said on Fox News. “The same really can’t be said of right-of-center views.”

Guskiewicz also noted the School is a “natural extension” of the IDEAS in Action curriculum, a new class model that encourages student to individualize their education. The curriculum began for first-years in fall 2022. 

Thorp said the current most “potent” Republican talking point is the “woke indoctrination” of higher education. He also noted the Program for Public Discourse is popular with the Republican Legislature and Republican-leaning trustees. 

Thorp said he thinks the BOT tipped off the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board for a “conservative perspective” on the resolution. The editorial was published hours after the BOT voted on the resolution with direct quotes from trustees. 

The Daily Tar Heel submitted a public records request to the University regarding communication between trustees and the Wall Street Journal Editorial Staff prior to the formal announcement of the resolution. The request is still awaiting response.

Chapman said she thinks the School is opportunity for donors to fund programs against what they perceive is the indoctrination of liberal ideology at the University — a phenomenon that Chapman said she doesn’t believe exists.

Can’t wait for the hiring of Chris Rufo and Bari Weiss to lead UNC into a brave new future.

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