As in any new year, those of us who love Carolina look forward to a season of achievements across academics, research, innovation, and of course, athletics. We expect continued greatness for Carolina in 2022 because, despite difficulties in the past, Carolina has always delivered. Yet, the pattern of partisan behavior and loss of local control that Carolina has recently seen mirrors what universities like Florida and Wisconsin have long experienced and suggests that achieving the expected greatness will be an even bigger challenge. Legislatures across the US will continue their assault on academic freedom, free speech and local control. Without intervention, the challenges for Carolina will continue.
The comments below from our Year in Review post underscore the frustrations that Carolina supporters face as they ponder what can be done to reverse course.
“You have provided a troubling summary for UNC during the course of 2021. My concern is that political interference is only going to increase. There will be no limit to infringing on academic freedom. Yet I see no strategy for UNC alums or faculty to work together.” – Hart Edmonds
“This is ‘heavier’ and more worrisome than I had even expected. Compressing, itemizing such regrettable news into an end-of–year report on this particular year enhances the miasma of it all.
From the ‘good news’ paragraph, I took heart, but nothing there engages the ‘bad news’ in the undeniable loss of independence for our university. That observation is hardly a criticism of the post; it describes, as it must, what we are facing. Laying it out, lined up as you have lined it up, is essential.
I am the rookie of rookies here. My observations thus reflect that. Is there a strategic plan to turn around what I read here? I take heart that this coalition is under way, and I found this sentence insightful: Most importantly, we will continue to shed light on issues that can harm Carolina if not addressed.
‘If not addressed’—-failing to address would be abject failure. The harm you detail is certainly upon us, and for a good many years now—2021 an acute, saddening collection of such harm. We need the brightest light, and soonest.
How to shine the necessary light most effectively remains much on my mind. I am certain that a miniscule portion of alumni know a fraction of what you have accumulated for ‘the story of 2021,’ much less what to do about it. Very few will engage it, past repeating lamentations and a hope for securing turnaround leadership of our General Assembly.” – John Wester
Bring the light and shine it bright
Plato’s quote “silence is consent”, is our reality. Our governing bodies are able to inflict such incredible harm to Carolina’s independence with minimal opposition because, for the most part, those who disagree are silent. At times legislators, the UNC Board of Governors, and UNC Chapel Hill Trustees avoid pushback by cloaking their harmful actions with subterfuge, denial or double-speak making it difficult to definitively place blame at their feet. We saw this with the confusing debacle of the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure fiasco. At the end of the day, the powers that be got what they wanted and suffered minimal consequences. Similarly, if trustees did indeed use secret pressure tactics to get their desired provost candidate installed, they did so with minimal pushback.
The patterns we’ve seen over the last decade point to a concerted effort by those in power to eliminate local control, stifle free speech, and conduct a makeover of Carolina in their desired image. To make a difference, those of us who disagree must make sure that those inflicting harm hear us loud and clear. They need to see and feel how fervent that disagreement is. Please make your voices heard. Speak about your concerns with University leadership, trustees, members of the Board of Governors, and most of all, with your elected representatives who started this divisive ball rolling with their appointees.
Here at the Coalition for Carolina, we are providing a platform to elevate your voice. Please invite your friends and family to join us so that more people know what is going on. If you want to express your concerns, you can submit a post of up to 600 words right on our website. We will gladly republish it. You can share our social media content with your network. And, we will gladly post your video comments and share them widely across our social media platforms. If you need help creating a video or post to express yourself, we will help you. If you would like for us to hold a forum and build an audience for you to share your perspectives, we will entertain that idea as well. In the meantime, we will not stay silent. We will build our movement, elevate the issues, and shine a light on the policies and practices that threaten local control and free speech at Carolina.
Carolina is not a University available to be transformed into the vision of whoever has political power. Destroying Carolina’s independence will destroy the economic prosperity and intellectual inquiry that Carolina helps drive. Carolina is a treasured gift that belongs to all of us and it is up to us to make sure that it continues to serve the needs of ALL the people of North Carolina, not the vision of politicians.