Health should come before funding squabbles
Regarding “Pollutant money in limbo after Cooper veto” (Sept. 22): Can you think of many things that are more critical to a safe, functioning society than access to clean water? I can’t. Protecting our children rises to the top of the list for parents in terms of priorities; children are some of the most vulnerable members of society to environmental pollutants. It would seem that protecting them from pollution would have some acceptable price, and yet, we find once again the NCGA is being pound wise and penny foolish, claiming big government overreach as it requests funding to research GenX chemicals dumped into the Cape Fear.
At a time of budget surplus, when our children are possibly at risk, why is the level of spending needed to assure their safety such a thorny subject? Apparently, residents can’t expect U.S. corporations to prioritize U.S. public health. But, we all should be able, at the least, to expect our public institutions to do so. Perhaps we’ve dodged a future bullet since Chemours has bowed to public outcry and agreed to take actions to capture and remove GenX from its waste stream. Let’s stop kicking the can, though, and fund DEQ at a level adequate to fulfill its mission.
UNC BOG ‘meddling’
Regarding “No need for board staff at UNC system” (Nov. 8): The institutions that comprise the University of North Carolina University System are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges, and that accreditation is a fundamental requirement to receive many millions of dollars in federal grants and financial support to students. That accreditation was jeopardized by the recent athletics scandal and required substantial, systemic changes and years of work and study by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and staff to correct problems and maintain its status.
Now comes the Board of Governors’ suggestion of having its own, independent staff. In the Comprehensive Standards of the Commission on Colleges, section 3.2.4 states, “The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence.” Section 3.2.6 states, “There is a clear and appropriate distinction, in writing and practice, between the policy-making functions of the governing board and the responsibility of the administration and faculty to administer and implement policy.”
One would hope that the governing board of one of the greatest university systems in the world would be a little more thoughtful of the consequences of becoming a blatantly partisan body. Does anyone doubt that the intent of the governing board is to exert political influence on our universities? Other state universities have had their accreditation yanked because of meddling by boards. Why invite such potential consequences in North Carolina?
Joseph T. Barwick
Former president, Carteret Community College
past vice-chair, SACS – Commission on Colleges.