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1-7-13-NCPW-CARTOONThis morning’s Winston-Salem Journal lays it out pretty clearly in an editorial on the matter of funding for the University of North Carolina. The paper says it is time for Gov. McCrory to stand up to his budget director and conservative political moneybags, Art Pope (who has launched a new and public effort to forestall needed growth in university spending).

This is from the editorial:

“Pope, who has his own conservative political constituency, has long been a UNC critic. The UNC operations request alone is for 4.6 percent. And while Pope had instructed state agencies to keep increase requests to 2 percent or less, the university’s response must be considered in historical context.

Over the last five years, the UNC operational budget has been cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. UNC officials have found efficiencies to cover some of those lost funds, but they’ve also weakened the education they deliver.

Additionally, students have been hit with big tuition and fee increases while state funding has dropped. All of this in a state where the constitution guarantees a university education that is as close to free as is ‘practicable’…. Read More

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You know things have taken a turn for a worse already under conservative control of the UNC system when the pro-discrimination forces on the religious right are happy with one of the first, major, high-profile decisions.

According to NC Values Coalition director Tami Fitzgerald, the Board’s decision to force LGBT kids back into same-sex living arrangements where they can be more easily bullied once again has brought “sanity to the university housing environment.’

Got that? God forbid that some gay 19 year-old boy might be able to room with a straight co-ed! As the WRAL story notes, more than 100 colleges around the country provide for a gender-neutral housing option (an option that former Chancellor Holden Thorp — a person who has actually interacted with a few modern college students — said was vital to protect the safety of some kids).    

But never mind that now; the sex-obesessed religious right (the same troubled group that fought against laws to protect bullied LGBT kids in the K-12 system for years) is still committed to returning North Carolina to the 1950′s — whatever the cost.  

 

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You know North Carolina has jumped off the cliff into the abyss when even two conservative figures with close ties to the John Locke Foundation are deriding the latest budget and tax policy choices made by state leaders.

Here, for instance, is longtime Locke Foundation Board member Assad Meymandi in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Some 60 years ago, the founding fathers of the new North Carolina – transforming an agrarian society into an educational, technical and industrial state – folks like the late Bill Friday, Archie Davis, Gov. Luther Hodges and others saw the future salvation of our beloved state by heavily investing in education.

Their efforts have produced, among other things, a very strong UNC system of 16 campuses, parallel with the creation of the incomparable network of community colleges. They also advocated a strong N.C. Symphony, N.C. Museum of Art and other cultural and artistic institutions to attract educated and culturally inclined people to the state. Investing in education has paid off. N.C. economy has thrived because of its excellent public universities. UNC-Chapel Hill alone brings in annually around $900 million in research money and grants. It is truly frightening to see what the legislature is doing to the budgets of UNC system, N.C. community college system and UNC-TV. Read More

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According to Raleigh’s News & Observer,  this morning, Governor McCrory made the following rather embarrassing statements to right-wing talk show host, “morals” crusader and and high-rolling casino patron Bill Bennett:

“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”

“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

He also promised to advance legislation to make higher education appropriations “not based on how many butts [are] in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

He went on to say that “Right now we pay based on how many students you have, not how many jobs you are getting people into.”

This afternoon, UNC President Tom Ross issued the following classy and common sense statement in response:  Read More

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The UNC Chapel Hill Daily Tar Heel reported late last night that a former Assistant Dean of Students, three current students and one former student have filed a civil rights complaint against the university over alleged efforts by officials in the University Counsel’s office to squelch sexual assault complaints.

“In 2011, the University Counsel’s office pressured Melinda Manning, then UNC’s assistant dean of students, to under-report cases of sexual assault, according to a complaint against UNC filed to the U.S. Department of Education by Manning and four others.

Manning, three students and one former student filed the complaint Wednesday, alleging that the University has violated the Clery Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other federal laws. Read More