The UNC Board of Governors really deserves a more accurate name. One that fits is the UNC Board of Political Meddlers.
Certainly that new title was earned Tuesday when a committee of the board voted 5-1, with one abstention, to strip the UNC Center for Civil Rights of its ability to file lawsuits on behalf of its clients, primarily low-income people. The center’s work focuses on education, housing and community development, economic justice and voting rights. The full board is likely to vote on the issue at its September meeting. It is expected to approve the ban on lawsuits by the center or any other UNC academic center.
The committee vote represents not just an attack on the center, but a rejection of the founding principles of the university itself. The University of North Carolina was created to give the public the power of knowledge, not only with regard to its students, but also with regard to those whom its students, faculty and graduates would assist. This vote seeks to cut that vital service.
Steve Long, a 56-year-old Raleigh tax attorney and member of the UNC Board of Governors, is the driving force behind the ban. He says, “The university should not be, in my opinion, hiring full-time lawyers to sue anybody.”