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If there’s anything good coming out of the sickening situation involving former NFL running back Ray Rice in recent days, it’s the growing national chorus that much more must be done to end the scandal that is this nation’s record when it comes to violence against women.

Along these same lines and in case you missed it, check out this morning’s lead commentary on the main Policy Watch site by local attorney Chavi Khanna Koneru “Sexual assault on college campuses: The need for federal legislation.” 

As the article explains, UNC Chapel Hill is at the epicenter of what is clearly a national epidemic.

UNC is currently under investigation by the federal government for mishandling sexual assault complaints. However, the problem is not limited to UNC. More than 60 other colleges around the country are also being investigated and students are continuing to come forward with personal stories of unsatisfactory treatment of their complaints.

The mishandling of sexual assault complaints by colleges is a longstanding problem, but these recent stories dramatize the lax federal oversight that allows these matters to continue to be improperly addressed. Universities often underreport the number of sexual assault cases on their campuses and fail to properly investigate complaints yet there have been no effective sanctions against the schools for these blatant violations.

One partial solution to the problem lies in the passage of federal legislation that provide feds with some real tools to force colleges to replace the “good ol’ boy” systems that far too many still employ with respect to such matters — especially when high profile athletic departments are involved. As the author notes:

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North Carolina’s public universities can’t keep turning to tuition revenues to fund need-based aid for lower-income students, a move could lessen how much aid is available for coming classes and lead some to take on more student loans.

The university system’s Board of Governors unanimously passed a four-year tuition proposal Friday that puts a 15 percent cap on how much tuition money schools can use for need-based aid to help lower-income students.

The need-based aid proposal also freezes the dollar amount that goes to need-based aid at five campuses that are at or exceed the 15 percent mark – Elizabeth City State University ($470,584), Fayetteville State University ($328,869), N.C. State University ($7.3 million)and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ($19.1 million) and Winston Salem-State University ($190,089). Read More

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The dean of the University of North Carolina’s law school is stepping down, saying that he wants to make room for new leadership to steer an upcoming fundraising campaign and ambitious curriculum changes.

Jack Boger, 68, who has served as dean since 2006, will stay on the job until July 2015 and then continue to teach at the Chapel Hill campus, according to a news release from the law school.

UNC’s Jack Boger

Boger said he wanted to ensure a new dean would be in place to run a large capital campaign expected to begin in the next year or two.

“It’s better to use that pause to bring in the next runner,” Boger said, comparing the leadership of the school to a relay race.

Boger has taught at the university for a quarter-century, and was a deputy director at the law school’s Center for Civil Rights before his 2006 appointment to lead the law school. He will return to the classroom and teach classes in education law, constitutional law and racial discrimination.

Boger found himself recently in the public spotlight when members of the UNC board of governors and university administrators became alarmed over highly critical columns UNC law professor Gene Nichol has been writing about policies under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Among the most controversial was an October editorial in the News & Observer where Nichol, a tenured professor and director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, compared McCrory to Jim Crow-era Southern politicians for backing restrictive changes to the state’s voting laws.

(Note: Nichol is a board member of the N.C. Justice Center, the larger anti-poverty non-profit that N.C. Policy Watch is a part of).

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The University of North Carolina didn’t win any points for transparency in a report issued this week that found the Chapel Hill campus failed to respond to a student journalist’s request for copies of athletic department documents.

large_blue_600pxSeveral University of Maryland journalism students, in this report jointly published by the Student Press Law Center, asked 83 public colleges and universities for copies of codes of conduct for athletic departments and teams and other related documents.

While most schools complied with the request for copies of policies related to social media use by student athletes, UNC sat on the records request for more than five months without producing anything. Their inaction stood out from the rest of the schools, the vast majority of which complied with requests for records.

The student journalists also encountered problems at the University of Delaware and the University of Central Florida, both of which denied the requests for information.

Dave Collier, the head of University of Arizona’s journalism school and current president of the national Society of Professional Journalist, called UNC’s handling of the requests “terrible.”

“I don’t know if that’s UNC’s intent here, but it’s really outrageous, that kind of delay,” Cuillier said in the SPLC report. “Does UNC really want to be an outlier? Does UNC want to be seen that way?”

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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