Dear North Carolina Board of Governors,
How dare you?
This Friday, y’all voted unanimously to “cap and freeze” the amount of my university’s revenue that can be spent on need-based financial aid at 15%. UNC spends 20.9% percent of our revenue on financial aid, which means that we’ll need to cut that by nineteen million dollars. Do y’all realize that decision is tantamount to saying “You know, we’re really spending too much money making this prestigious university accessible to poor people. We should do LESS of that”?
Need-based financial aid is the reason kids who couldn’t otherwise afford college are able to afford college. What possible reason could there be to cut back on that? Why isn’t that your top priority?
Your decision will raise the average UNC-Chapel Hill graduate’s debt upon graduation from $17,000—which is already outrageous—to $33,000! Currently, a third of the student body takes out loans. Your decision will make it so that half will.
Have you not heard that UNC-Chapel Hill is consistently ranked as the best value university—the lowest cost for the highest quality—in the country? Do you really think putting that status in jeopardy will be good for the students at UNC schools, or for the taxpayers, citizens, and businesses in North Carolina that higher UNC graduates? Are you happy that you’ve made officials from the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid say they’re more concerned for the affordability of the university than they’ve ever been?
What makes you think you can do this? What makes you think that serving the students of these universities was not your number one priority?
And while we’re at it, how dare you make this decision at an off-campus office, closed to the public, in only seven minutes, during a time of the year when no students are on campus with no discussion beforehand? Your body is made up of thirty-two adults appointed by the legislature, with one non-voting student who can’t even speak unless spoken to first. How much more undemocratic could your institution possibly get?
The North Carolina Student Power Union calls on the Board of Governors to immediately repeal this decision. Further, we demand a public forum at every one of your meetings. It is absolutely unacceptable that y’all make decisions like this that impact students without the chance to hear from those students about how they will be impacted. A public forum at your meetings is quite literally the least you can do.
I don’t know what made y’all think you wouldn’t be held accountable for this action, but y’all would do well to disabuse yourselves of that notion immediately. You are a public institution that exists for students. Don’t forget it.
And to my fellow UNC system students: Are we going to let them get away with this? We need to organize and make them hear us. One of the earliest opportunities this semester is the Stand Up, Fight Back conference hosted by the Student Power Union the weekend of September 12. Let them know that they can’t ignore us.
An Angry Student