The news article “UNC board closes 3 centers” (N&O, Feb. 28) was a great disappointment to me and, I’m sure, to a great many North Carolina residents who believe in free speech and academic freedom. However, it was certainly no surprise.
I believe that decision was preordained when the Board of Governors ordered the study of all 240 centers and institutes in the university system, a vaguely disguised cover for its real goal: to remove dissent in the ranks from loudmouths like Gene Nichol.
But it’s time to move on – perhaps literally. Wouldn’t it be ironic (even poetic justice) if the functions of each of the three centers the BOG has voted to shut down were simply moved to the other end of “Tobacco Road” – Duke University?
Disturbing and refreshing
Regarding Rep. Nelson Dollar’s letter “Nothing to show” (N&O, March 3):
I find it at once disturbing and refreshing that the esteemed representative of N.C. District 36 would use a public forum to call out a state employee as he did when he wrote, “Nichol is nothing more than a strident left-winger with no fresh ideas.”
While the choice of words may represent Dollar’s feelings, it is unbecoming of a public servant to vent such personal bias while arguing for objectivity in regard to decisions concerning the closing of Nichol’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.
However, it is likewise refreshing to hear the truth about why the UNC Board of Governors is closing the center.
True political bias
It’s quite ironic that the UNC Board of Governors recommended the closing of the Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity due to the audacity of director and law professor Gene Nichol.
Board members have said the poverty center “engages in political activity and political bias” when the true political bias and agenda are being set by the Board of Governors members themselves; bias against academic freedom, integrity of research and shedding light on the imperative to fight social and economic injustice for all in our state.
As if ignoring the staggering statistics related to poverty and the multiple vulnerabilities of the most disenfranchised in our state were not egregious enough, this closure adds insult to injury.
By keeping our state’s flagship university from housing a center that addresses North Carolina’s greatest challenge, eliminating poverty, we have let political ideology and bias erode the very purpose of academic pursuit.
Lisa de Saxe Zerden
The biggest danger to the integrity of the University of North Carolina is not the current athletic scandal. It is the current Board of Governors.
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