Regarding the Feb. 19 news article “ 3 university centers could be eliminated”: Ever since the Republicans took over the state legislature in 2010 and the governorship in 2012, it has been no secret that destroying the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity has been one of their priorities.
In the Jesse Helms tradition, the North Carolina Republicans choose to silence their critics rather than respond to the criticisms. Closing the poverty center is an affront to free speech, especially dangerous when it’s done at the crown jewel of our state’s educational institutions. One can only assume the next item on their agenda is to gut the UNC budget similar to the $300 million cut proposed by Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker for the “too liberal” University of Wisconsin.
Exhibit No. 1 is the UNC poverty center. After all, who could be a better example of liberal thinking than the most articulate anti-poverty warrior in North Carolina, the poverty center’s director Professor Gene Nichol?
The governor and legislative leaders do not like to be accused of being insensitive to the problems of poverty in our state – but they are. Nichol, a man of immense courage, has not hesitated to take on the power structure with the truth. And attempting to silence him by closing the poverty center is a disgusting display of political cowardice that only reinforces the public image of Republicans as the party which favors enriching the rich and further impoverishing the poor.