EXCLUSIVE: Prof calls out UNC for 'indoctrinating,' implementing 'likely' unconstitutional mandate

A visiting professor slammed a mandate requiring incoming freshmen at a number of North Carolina public universities to live on campus where, as he put it, students are being “indoctrinated.”

Douglas Oliver, a non-practicing attorney, visiting professor at Indiana’s Taylor University, and former professor at Ohio’s University of Toledo, critiqued the trend in an article written for the James G. Martin Center. Oliver claims that having on-campus housing requirements at “drives up the cost of education and restricts the constitutional rights of public university students- all in the name of ‘the university experience.’”

“Many universities claim that living on campus improves the likelihood of academic success,” Oliver said.

But “when universities assert that students who live on campus earn higher grades, they often do not consider the possibility that students who choose to live on campus are a self-selecting group,” the visiting professor continued. “For example, students who voluntarily live on campus likely come from wealthier families than those who live in less-expensive housing off campus. Furthermore, the important variable may be proximity to campus rather than living on campus.”

”That is, living in private housing within walking distance of campus may offer educational benefits similar to living on campus,” he added.

According to a study published by North Carolina State University, “students who live with University Housing will acquire skills to enhance their academic success, be actively engaged in the campus community, develop the ability to interact with others in a civil manner, develop competencies necessary to become contributing members of a diverse and multicultural world, and develop and strengthen individual leadership ability.” The university goes on to state that one of its goals is for resident students to “demonstrate an understanding of power, privilege, and oppression in society at large.”

During an exclusive interview with Campus Reform, Oliver reacted to that specific acknowledgment by North Carolina State. 

”One of their reasons for having students live on campus, what they’re calling a strong point of living on campus, is that they can teach about power, privilege, and oppression in society at large, which to me says, ‘we are indoctrinating our students and we recognize it’,” Oliver said.

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The former professor’s commentary remarks were cited in a recent National Review article, which referenced a clause in the North Carolina state Constitution. The clause states, “the General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”

According to Oliver, that part of the state Constitution is “likely” being violated by the state’s public colleges. 

”The on-campus living requirements enacted by North Carolina’s state universities provide questionable educational benefits. Yet, they create a substantial burden on some students—hurting them economically and, likely, restricting their constitutional rights. Rather than expanding the mandates in the UNC system, they should be abolished,” Oliver wrote. 

Oliver claimed that 11 out of 16 UNC institutions require freshmen to pay for on-campus housing. North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is also part of the UNC system but offers courses for current high school students, some of which are eligible for college credit.

UNC-Greensboro is one school without freshman housing mandates. UNCG Associate Director of Administrative Operations Guy Sanders rationalized the decision while speaking with Campus Reform.

“I think UNCG has always prided itself on serving students who want to live on campus as opposed to those who would be forced to live on campus. It can be challenging to create a strong community when students who are part of that community don’t really want to be a part of that community,” he added.

Sanders also stated that while UNCG does not require living on-campus, the students that choose to do so have higher GPAs than those who live off-campus, a statistic that has held true for the past 25 years at the school.

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Other schools have established their on-campus housing mandates based on a similar conclusion.

East Carolina University states on its campus life website that it has established the policy “based on a desire to further improve student retention. Data shows that students living on campus generally return to school the next year at a higher rate with a higher GPA than those living off campus their first year.” Appalachian State University also requires freshmen to live on campus. 

“First-year students who live on campus are more likely to continue their degree at the institution (retention) due to the connections they make during that first year of an integrated living experience on campus,” Rachel Butts, who works for the school’s housing department, told Campus Reform. “It also allows the university to offer a higher level of support to first-year students during their transition from home to college due to the 24/7 live-in staff available for support.”

North Carolina colleges have a history of questionable activity on campus, including in student resident halls. 

As Campus Reform previously reported, a resident assistant at Appalachian State University hung a bulletin board in a dormitory to address white, male, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual, and cisgendered “privilege.” 

[RELATED: App State dorm bulletin board shames ‘privileged’ students]

At North Carolina State, one administrator proposed racially segregated housing for “students of color.” North Carolina also is one of 16 states that prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Such instances are not limited to North Carolina colleges, though. For example, at the University of New Mexico, resident advisors told a student to remove an American flag from his dorm room window. 

Follow the author of this article: Meredith Watson