Trustees reject student government's attempt to deny funding to pro-life organizations

The UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed a resolution that reaffirms its commitment to protecting freedom of speech and viewpoint neutrality.

The resolution follows a controversial attempt by UNC Chapel Hill Student Body President Taliajah Vann to block executive branch funding from pro-life organizations.

Following the Student Government Association president’s attempt to halt funding to pro-life businesses, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees released a public resolution reaffirming its commitment to viewpoint neutrality.

The Board’s July 27 resolution stipulates that mandatory student fees must be distributed to student organizations in a viewpoint-neutral manner.

The resolution was passed nearly three weeks after Student Body President Taliajah Vann issued an executive order that declined executive branch funds from being directed to pro-life businesses and organizations. 

[RELATED: Students must allocate funds in a ‘viewpoint-neutral manner,’ free speech org states]

Vann’s order sparked outrage from pro-life activists and legal groups, who alleged it violated students’ First Amendment rights.

“[A]s the oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is firmly committed to protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association on campus in order to foster an educational environment with a diversity of viewpoints,” the resolution states.

It continued, “[T]he law requires that allocation of student fees to student organizations must be accomplished with viewpoint neutrality as the operational principle in law.”

The Board’s resolution will apply to the Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government Senates, which carry the power of the purse when directing the use of student activity fees.

The Board’s resolution also prompted a second resolution its “commitment to academic freedom” on all UNC campuses. 

The vote also followed a May 17 report that found “students who identify as conservative face distinct challenges.” 

The report summarized surveys conducted with UNC students regarding their views on free expression on UNC campuses. A major finding of the report was that a majority of students believe that UNC campuses “do not consistently achieve an atmosphere that promotes free expression.”

Students rejected the premise that faculty “push political agendas,” but admitted that conservative students “face distinct challenges” when advertising their views on campus.

As reported by Campus Reform in September of last year, 80% of college students nationwide “self-censor” their viewpoints for fear of retribution from peers or faculty. 

[RELATED: 1A lawyers brief students on free speech rights ahead of the fall semester]

Campus Reform has also reported on the disparity of conservative voices featured during college graduation ceremonies in 2022.

According to a Young America’s Foundation report, for example, liberal speakers outnumbered conservative speakers 53-3 during spring commencement ceremonies. 

While liberal activists and politicians were welcomed on campus, University of Wyoming students booed Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis off the stage after she made a statement recognizing there are “only two sexes, male and female.”

Campus Reform contacted the Board of Trustees and UNC Chapel Hill for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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