The decline and fall of UNC

I'm a graduate of the UNC School of Journalism, having gotten my degree in the early 80s. Back then, we were proud of our position as a national leader with a fabulous faculty and a great reputation. That was then.

Today, the J School is a shadow of its former self and a microcosm of the entire UNC system, both of which suffer from so much self-inflicted damage. Under the GOP's destructive leadership, UNC has endured a series of political and cultural disasters that have moved it from being a national treasure to an international embarrassment.

Our latest bruise came yesterday, when Nikole Hannah-Jones declined to accept UNC's belated offer of tenure. It's a shame the J School won't get to benefit from her passion and strength, but I don't blame her one bit for her choosing Howard University instead. From what I can see, her experience with UNC was an unmitigated clusterfuck, the result of crappy leadership up and down the line. From the board of governors to the board of trustees to the legislature and more, NC's GOP leaders seem hell-bent on destroying what's left of UNC's shattered reputation. Just like they're doing to our entire state. We're scraping the bottom of the barrel in every aspect of education, and now rival states like Mississippi and Alabama as profiles in ignorance.

If I were a planner at Apple these days, I'd be seriously second-guessing the decision to build a corporate center here in the Triangle. Between underfunding public schools and whitewashing national history, the state of North Carolina is showing its true colors: we're a growing haven for bigotry and racism, run by a cabal of good old boys who simply don't give a shit about anything other than petty political power.

I wish Hannah-Jones the best as a Knight Chair at Howard University. She deserves an academic home where the community appreciates her scholarship and values her leadership. UNC simply doesn't measure up.



The damage is done

During the controversy, there was this news item making the rounds about the Black faculty caucus at UNC:

Members of the Carolina Black Caucus took a poll at their regularly scheduled meeting this week and found that 70% of the about 30 attendees are considering leaving UNC-CH and more than 60% of them are actively looking for other jobs.

The group announced the news in a tweet Wednesday.

If you combine this with the recent refusal of the BOG to reappoint a faculty member to the UNC Press board because of his criticism of the Silent Sam payout to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I imagine there are a lot of faculty questioning whether they want to stay at UNC or look elsewhere.

Any faculty member that's researching or teaching topics that could piss off the BOG or members of the GOP state legislature could be in the crosshairs next.

Now, imagine, after seeing all the controversies surrounding the UNC system the past few years, being a student that is Black, gay, trans or a member of other minority, not only struggling to pay for and finish college, but having to fight an administration and legislature that doesn't want you there.

The way things are going, the GOP legislature will ensure that the UNC system will have a reputation as a great place for white straight privileged males to learn about White Grievance Studies, the Joys of Capitalism, and only what's necessary to get them a job in finance, a tech-bro startup, or a right-wing Art Pope think tank.