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UNC Voted To Repeal Its DEI Policies — Here’s What That Means

On May 23, UNC voted to repeal its DEI policies across the system’s 17 public universities statewide. This move by the UNC System Board of Governors replaces a regulation implemented in 2019 that put multiple DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) standards — which emphasized inclusivity efforts and required each school to have a chief diversity officer who submitted regular diversity reports — into place.

According to a document shared by the university about the decision, the new policies — dubbed “Equality Within the University of North Carolina” — will still uphold compliance with state and federal nondiscrimination laws, maintains a commitment to free speech and academic freedom, and includes language about adherence “institutional neutrality,” meaning the school can’t pick a side when it comes to debated topics in the political sphere. Per AP News, this change is not expected to affect classroom instruction, research done within the university, or any student orgs. However, AP also reported the new policies no longer identify the responsibilities of school DEI officers and liaisons, which has many wondering whether these jobs will be eliminated by the time the new school year rolls around.

This decision comes mere weeks following the UNC board’s vote to divert more than $2 million away from DEI programs, as well as many other schools’ decisions to move away from DEI efforts in recent months.

“Ensuring that everyone is included and supported is core to our mission as a public institution, but it is not the job of the university to decide all the complex and multi-dimensional questions of how to balance and interpret identity,” UNC president Peter Hans said in a statement about the decision, per The Hill. “These are vigorously contested ideas in both our democracy and on our campuses.”

However, DEI proponents lament the rollback of these initiatives. “The decision … is deeply troubling,” Chantal Stevens, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement via the organization’s X account. “Pulling funding from these programs undermines these efforts and sends a worrying message about how committed our universities are to protecting the rights of students to be free from discrimination on the basis of their race, ethnicity, disability, or other protected classes.”

Another criticism of the decision surrounds the the governing board that made this ruling. Per Durham newspaper The Herald-Sun, there are 23 members on the board, and the majority are white — with 15 white men who make up 65% of the membership. There are four Black members (17% of the membership), and one sole Indian-American member. By contrast, the UNC’s current enrollment data shows that just over half of the student body is white (about 52%), about 21% are Black, and about 6% are Asian. Because of this disparity, some critics are saying the board isn’t representative of the school system it’s supposed to… well, represent.

Per NBC local news outlet WXII, the board said students will likely see the effects of these changes when they return to school in the fall semester.

Lexi Williams is the Senior Editor at Her Campus, where she spearheads the site's Life and News coverage — including academics, national news, digital news, and viral news. She also oversees our Gen Leaders and Dream Jobs franchises, and works with the national writer team, interns, and freelance writers. Dedicating her career to helping college students, teens, and twentysomethings live their best lives, Lexi became obsessed with all things Gen Z through her previously held editorial positions at Elite Daily and Dorm Therapy. Before that, she dabbled in the food and wine space at Wine Spectator magazine, where she learned to balance her Champagne taste with her Two-Buck-Chuck budget. Lexi's bylines have also appeared in Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Bustle, StyleCaster, and Betches, among others. She graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Miami in 2016. Originally from Florida, Lexi currently lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends her days scouting the best pizza spots, working on her debut novel, perpetually redecorating her apartment, and taking too many photos of her yappy little rescue dog, Benji. For pitches, contact Lexi at lexiwilliams@hercampus.com. For a healthy dose of Millennial cringe, follow her on Instagram at @lexi___williams.