Gene Nichol, who’s the former Dean of the UNC Law School, and who may be the most politically correct man in North Carolina, tore into the new UNC Board of Governors saying right wing politics is taking over the university and the Board is to blame.
It’s difficult to tell whether Dean Nichol’s broadside was a political eruption or an old-fashioned case of paranoia but, either way, it doesn’t seem likely UNC is on the verge of turning into a bastion of conservatism.
The bruhaha – that lit Dean Nichol up – began when students at Chapel Hill, protesting, demanded ‘Silent Sam’ be taken down; then the professors, miming the students, chimed in the statue should have been taken down long ago; and, next, University President Margaret Spellings and Chancellor Carol Folt, with the Boards’ blessing, wrote Governor Cooper asking him for help so they could take down the statue.
Then, unexpectedly, the wind changed – a new member of the Board, Tom Fetzer, circulated a letter saying President Spellings and Chancellor Folt had made a big mistake – and a majority of the Board co-signed Fetzer’s letter.
The Board members then introduced three more motions – one to cut tuition, another to cut President Spellings’ staff, and a third to move the UNC Board out of Chapel Hill – and all three passed.
And then Dean Nichol lifted his pen and let-fly in the News and Observer.
But, for just this once, politics may not be the villain: Over in Chapel Hill diversity is like a sacred grail but, on the other hand, when it comes to ideas they don’t like Chancellor Folt and Company are not very diverse at all. Complicating the problem, over the years, Chapel Hill has become like an island isolated from its neighbors – surrounded by impenetrable ivy walls the Deans and professors have evolved into a kind of elite so out of touch that the common working man, scratching his chin, watching their protests, thinks, ‘Ole Roy and the basketball team are okay but I’ve got doubts about the rest of those folks.’