Higher Ed, News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Study: College students prefer free tuition to prestigious degrees

A new study released this week gives some interesting insights into college students’ views on the rising cost of tuition and the value of degrees from prestigious universities.

College Pulse conducted the poll of 8,887 students currently attending four-year colleges or universities across the United States.

One of its most interesting findings: 67 percent of college students would prefer “free tuition at a university nobody has heard of” to “full tuition at a prestigious university.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the answers reveal interesting sociological layers when broken down by race and ethnicity.

Black students were most likely (74 percent) to say they would prefer free tuition at an unknown university to full tuition at a prestigious one. White and Latinx students both said they preferred free tuition at about 67 percent. Native American or American Indian students preferred the idea of free tuition at 56 percent and Asian respondents 49 percent.

The study comes as the cost of tuition — and college loan forgiveness — has become a major issue in the Democratic primary for president.

It’s also an issue with which the UNC system and UNC Board of Governors has been struggling the last few  years.

Studies have shown that tuition hikes reduce diversity at universities.

When the N.C. legislature approved dropping tuition at some UNC schools to $500 a semester last year, there were a lot of concerns – lost revenue, the perceived value of a degree, what it would mean for the schools’ reputations to suddenly and explicitly become “value” universities.

Two historically black colleges – including Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State – opted out.

At the three universities that ultimately became part of the initial NC Promise tuition program –  Elizabeth City State UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Pembroke and  Western Carolina University  – there are still concerns among some students, faculty, staff and even administrators.

UNC-Pembroke Chancellor Robert Gary Cumming has praised the program.

 

News

UNC Board of Governors (again) postpones plan for “Silent Sam”

The UNC Board of Governors will not discuss a plan for the future of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument at next week’s meeting.

After it was toppled by protesters last August, the damaged statue was taken to a secure, undisclosed location. Board members were divided on its future – some publicly insisting a 2015 law passed by the General Assembly means it must be re-erected on campus, others quietly hoping to preserve the statue and peace on campus by moving it elsewhere.

The board tasked then-UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and the school’s Board of Governors with crafting a plan for the monument. But it swiftly rejected a plan for a $5.3 million UNC history museum on campus where the statue could be securely kept.

Instead, the board appointed five of its own members – Darrell Allison, Jim Holmes, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho – to “got back to the drawing board” with the chancellor and trustees, coming up with a new plan.

The board’s unveiling of that new plan, already repeatedly pushed back, had most recently been planned for its May meeting. But on Tuesday afternoon, board Chairman Harry Smith released a statement saying the board has decided to again postpone it.

“In early March, we set the May meeting of the UNC Board of Governors as a tentative reporting date to consider possible solutions for the confederate monument at UNC-Chapel Hill, commonly known as Silent Sam,” Smith said in the statement. “A small group of Board members is prepared to review and discuss options at an appropriate time. However, our Board and the universities have also been focused on a number of other issues, including the legislative session, and there is nothing to report at this time. Therefore, the monument issue will not be on our agenda for the May meeting.”

Policy Watch is continuing to follow this story as it develops.

News

All day call-in planned for transgender woman held in men’s prison

Kanautica Zayre-Brown

Supporters of Kanautica Zayre-Brown, a transgender woman being held in a men’s prison in Warren County, are holding an all day call-in Wednesday to secure her transfer to a women’s facility.

Last month, as the deadline to avoid a lawsuit from the ACLU approached, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety transferred Zayre-Brown from the Harnett County Correctional Institution. Not to a women’s prison, as she and the ACLU had requested, but to the smaller Warren Correctional Institution for men in Warren County, near the Virginia border.

The ACLU said it plans to bring a lawsuit in the matter.

Now, Zayre-Brown’s supporters plan mass call-ins to the offices of Governor Roy Cooper, Direct of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter, and Attorney General Josh Stein demanding that Zayre-Brown be transferred to a women’s facility immediately.

Last month Kendra Johnson, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality NC, said there is no excuse for DPS refusing this request.

“Transgender people have been incarcerated in this country for as long as we have had prison facilities,” Johnson said. “We can do better than this. It’s something that can be fixed. There were guidelines that were set forth previously. This is something that’s completely unnecessary and it shouldn’t at all be a political fight.”

“The DPS has the power to do the right thing,” Johnson said. “And to put Kanautica and six or seven other women into the correct facilities, if nothing else for their own protection, I would hope that folks would do the right thing. But we haven’t had a great track record on that happening.”

News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Report: Students divided on free speech vs. hate speech on college campuses

A Knight Foundation report, released Monday, gives some fascinating insight into current college students’ views on the First Amendment, hate speech and which forms of protection should be protected on campuses.

The issue may be particularly of interest in North Carolina, where UNC students are rallying over the final destiny of the Silent Sam Confederate monument, facing off with white supremacist groups who have vandalized campus sites with hate speech and calling for changes in policing policies around protests.

The study polled more than 4,000 full-time, four-year degree seeking students through a confidential mobile app rather than telephone interviews.

A clear majority — 58 percent of respondents — said they do not favor restrictions on free speech, even for hate speech defined as expression that “attacks people based on their race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.” But 41 percent said they do not believe hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the breakdown by gender shows some important differences in sentiment on questions of diversity.

Read more

News, What's Race Got To Do With It?

Bail reform activists charged after protest at Durham detention center

Two bail reform activists were charged Friday after chaining themselves to a gate outside the Durham County Detention Center Thursday.

Kayla ONeill Hartsfield, 25, and Serena Elysa Sebring Wadlington, 41, both of Durham, were charged with public disturbance, second-degree trespass and failure to disperse. Both were released on $2,000 unsecured bonds with a court appearance set for June 12.

The group Southerners on New Ground, in which the two are leaders, participated in the national Black Mamas Bailout movement, bailing out incarcerated mothers out of jail for mother’s day. The two women chained themselves to the gates outside the detention center to protest the cash bail system and pretrial detention. This led the Durham County Sheriff’s office to close Pettigrew Street, where protesters gathered, and lock down the facility.

“We call for the city and county of Durham to stop caging Black mothers and caregivers before Mother’s Day and end money bail and pre-trial detention,” the group wrote in a press statement.

The two women unchained themselves around 8 p.m. Thursday. Warrants were issued and they surrendered in the early afternoon Friday.

In a prepared statement, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said his department respects free speech but the protest crossed legal lines.

“While we honor this fundamental constitutional right, in this specific incident, laws were broken, leading to charges being filed,” Birkhead said in the statement.

Neither Hartsfield nor Wadlington could be reached directly for comment Friday.