Report: 1 in 4 prospective college students ruling out some states due to political climate

The impact of politics on colleges and universities across the country isn’t just making headlines. It’s also driving prospective colleges students away from certain states, a new study released Monday suggests.

One in four high school seniors reported they ruled out certain campuses based on the politics, policies or unfolding legal situations in certain states, according to polling from the Art & Science Group, a consulting firm specializing in higher education.

The findings held true across the political spectrum, with self-identified liberal students (31 percent), conservative students (28 percent) and moderates (22 percent) all reporting they avoided certain states.

“Possibly the most interesting subgroup difference is the lack of a difference,” the report on the study reads. “In our research, students who identify as conservatives are about as likely to reject an institution on politically charged grounds overall as are students who classify themselves as liberals. Indeed, for those intent on generationally derived behavioral explanations, our study suggests that ‘snowflake’ students may exist on both the conservative and liberal sides of the aisle, with the phenomenon of ruling out an institution being cited by around 30% of both liberals and conservatives.”

The study’s authors note that their polling was fielded this winter, before the biggest political conflicts in higher education erupted in Florida, Texas and Ohio.

The states most likely to be ruled out by students: Alabama (38 percent), Texas (29 percent), Louisiana and Florida (both 21 percent).

Students who identified as liberal-leaning said they were more likely to rule out schools in the South or Midwest while conservative-leaning students said they were more likely to rule out New York and California. Read more

“More important than ever” UNC Panel talks faith and abortion

From left to right: Maharat Ruth Friedman, Lauren W. Reliford, Leah Libresco Sargeant, Mara Buchbinder.

In the days before Wednesday night’s panel on faith and abortion through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program for Public Discourse, a number of people – some of them colleagues – told moderator Mara Buchbinder they shouldn’t be having the conversation.

“Their concern was, we don’t have the luxury of debating competing ethical frameworks at a time when the law itself is under siege,” said Buchbinder,  a professor and vice chair of the department of social medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.

Since a new, conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last June, Republican lawmakers across the country have pushed for – and in some states passed – new restrictions on abortion. In North Carolina, the General Assembly’s GOP majority is discussing limits of between 12 and six weeks, down from the existing 20 week window in which women can access abortion.

In that environment, Buchbinder said, she understands the skepticism about a conversation based solely on faith and abortion.

“Given our pluralist and increasingly polarizing society, I think it’s more important than ever to understand the complex relationships between faith, politics and culture,” Buchbinder said. Read more

Tonight: UNC-Chapel Hill panel discussion on “Faith and Abortion”

On Wednesday evening UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program for Public Discourse will hold a panel discussion on Faith and Abortion as the last event in its Abbey Speaker Series this academic year.

The discussion comes as the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly pursues new restrictions on abortion, part of a wave of such legislation following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Last month a Meredith College poll found more than half of respondents wanted to keep the state’s current law allowing for abortion access up to 20 weeks or to expand the period in which women can access abortion. Over a third wanted to restrict access to abortion further or ban access entirely. About 31 percent said they would like to keep the law as it is.

From left to right: Professor Mara Buchbinder, Leah Libresco Sargeant, Maharat Ruth Friedman, Lauren W. Reliford.

That division is deeply partisan, the polling found – three quarters of Democrats polled wanted to keep the current law or expand access while nearly 60 percent of Republicans wanted further restrictions or an outright ban. Among unaffiliated voters, nearly 60 percent said they would prefer keeping the 20 week ban or expanding access.

Wednesday’s panel discussion will be moderated by Mara Buchbinder, a professor and vice chair of the department of social medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. Panelists include Maharat Ruth Friedman, clergy at Ohev Sholom – the National Synagogue in Washington DC; Lauren W. Reliford, a social worker and Political Director for Christian organization Sojourners and Leah Libresco Sargeant, writer and author of the book Arriving at Amen, which examined her conversion from atheism to Catholicism.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. FedEx Global Education Center, Nelson Mandela Auditorium and will also be streamed online. Registration here.

General Assembly asking for info on DEI at UNC campuses as GOP targets diversity efforts

This week the N.C. General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations requested documents related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) training programs through the UNC System and all of its 17 campuses.

The request, according to a Tuesday letter from Derrick Welch, director of Senate Majority Staff Government Operations, is part of the commission’s “inquiry into university employee training programs administered through the UNC System or its member universities.”

The letter, produced below, includes an exhaustive 10-point request for documents, descriptions and costs related to any DEIA related training.

“For purpose of this letter, ” Welch wrote, “DEIA” includes, but is not limited to, those subject matters which reference or discuss ‘diversity’, ‘equity’, ‘inclusion’, ‘accessibility’, ‘racism’, ‘anti-racism’, ‘anti-racist’, ‘oppression’, ‘internalized oppression’, ‘systemic racism’, ‘sexism’, ‘gender’, ‘LGBTQ+’, ‘white supremacy’, ‘unconscious bias’, ‘bias’, ‘microaggressions’, ‘critical race theory’, ‘intersectionality’, or ‘social justice.'”

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New names for UNC Board of Governors are familiar political faces

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown and “Woody” White.

The North Carolina Senate is poised to add two former Republican legislators to the UNC Board of Governors — a body long criticized as overly partisan, top-heavy with lobbyists and former GOP lawmakers and lacking in diversity.

The Senate’s Select Committee on Nominations met briefly Tuesday morning to consider six names for the board — four reappointments and two new names.

The board members to be reappointed: Joel Ford, Martin Holton, Temple Sloan and Michael Williford.

The two new nominees:

  • Harry Brown, a 16-year veteran of the Senate from Onslow County and former Senate Majority Leader, and
  • Haywood “Woody” White, a former senator and past chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, who also ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for a U.S. House seat in 2014.

Senator Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), a member of committee, pointed out that the two new nominees — both white Republican men — would offer little to a board she said needs to diversify if it wants to actually represent the state and the UNC System.

“This is a very diverse state,” Robinson said. “The university system is a very diverse system. And we need to have a better representation on the board of governors for those universities — women and minorities.”

Robinson, a member of the bipartisan Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, said her Senate colleagues need to begin taking diversity concerns seriously.

“The majority of the UNC system are women, yet the board of governors has very few women on it,” Robinson said. “It also does not have many minorities on it as well.”

Of the board’s 24 voting members, five are women and four are Black.

“I nominated a woman last term and she didn’t get anywhere,” Robinson said. “I figured there was no need of me nominating if you’re not going to vote.”

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