UNC System committee passes policy change; diversity jobs at risk

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A committee with the UNC System is attempting to make a change that could cut jobs related to diversity at its institutions, including ECU.

On Wednesday, a 5-person committee within the Board of Governors voted to reverse and replace a policy related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

ECU Student Noah Mills disagrees with the action and says it’s important for schools to have strategies in place to welcome people from all walks of life.

“I think diversity policies especially here at ECU are needed. I love that ECU has a diverse campus. That’s part of the reason why I came to ECU and I think the diverse staff serves ECU well,” says Mills.

The proposed policy change would impact a regulation adopted in 2019 that defines the roles of various positions and the establishment of a diversity and inclusion council of members representing each university.

ECU Chair of the Faculty, Dr. Anne Ticknor, says because the vote was just passed, any conclusion on the outcome is pure speculation.

“Does that mean that there will be people who lose their jobs? Does it mean that offices or centers that are related to diversity and inclusion will be closed? We don’t know that yet and I think that is where the concern and the interest is,” says Ticknor.

If the policy is fully repealed, the UNC System could join other major universities in dismantling their diversity offices.

ECU Student Douglas Bell says as someone who has some Puerto Rican descent, he benefits from diversity programs, but that’s not exactly why he is in favor of them.

“I have many friends of different races, gay, straight, white, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, my best friend who I am going to meet right now, and their perspective is very valuable to their difference in experiences,” says Bell.

At least 20 states have seen Republican bills seeking to limit diversity and inclusion programs in several public institutions.

The full board of 24 members will have a final vote in May and if approved the repeal would take effect immediately.