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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

The board of governors for the 17-campus University of North Carolina system will decide next month if it wants to freeze in-state tuition and reject some of the tuition increases the legislature mandated for out-of-state students in this year’s budget.

Click here for a detailed overview in the News & Observer of the tuition proposal.

The UNC Board of Governors, who discussed the proposals at a meeting Thursday, will also vote on system-wide2014-15 budget recommendations (click here to see) at their meeting next month, on Feb. 21. The proposal also seeks to reverse an estimated $7.8 million in discretionary cuts called for by the legislature.

Tom Ross, the UNC system president, spoke with reporters after Friday morning’s meeting, said  continual cuts to the university system isn’t sustainable.

“What’s the breaking point when it begins to affect quality?,” Ross asked. “There are times now that we’re hearing from students that they can’t get the course they need. We have to be sure we’re protecting quality as well.”   Read More

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.  

 

As legislators get back to work this week crafting their version of the state budget, the head of the UNC system is downplaying the prospect of closing one or more of the state’s 17 campuses to save money.

UNC System President Tom Ross say the idea would save the state less money than one might think – as closing one campus would only increase the demands on another campus. Ross says the state would then have the cost of repairing many of these large buildings before they could be put on the market.

Forsysth County Senator Pete Brunstetter first floated the idea of consolidating campuses last month as a way of saving the state millions of dollars.

Ross tells N.C. Policy Watch that while they are willing to study Brunstetter’s idea, it’s unlikely to yield the big savings lawmakers are hoping to find.

President Ross also tells Policy Watch that he has grave concerns another 5% budget cut, as proposed by Governor McCrory, will impact their ability to  provide high-quality educational opportunities to the state’s residents and assist in North Carolina’s economic recovery.

To hear a portion of Ross’s weekend radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below. Or, visit the Radio Interview section of the website to download a podcast of the full interview.

Also be sure to check out our recent interviews with Diane Ravitch and BTC policy analyst Allan Freyer.

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