CHAPEL HILL – About a dozen students rallied at the Board of Governors meeting Thursday, upset over two policies passed by system leaders. Students say they won’t let the matters go and will keep showing up at Board meetings until they feel their voices are heard.
UNC-CH Senior Kate Davis-Jones was one of the students who gathered at the Board of Governors meeting in protest of changes made to the drop/add policy.
“The Board of Governors has been consistently just stepping into the University, micro-managing, and sort of twisting things to the way they think the University should run,” Davis-Jones said. “They are completely by-passing any sort of criticism or input of people who are actually at the University. “
Passed by the Board of Governors in April, the policy established a system-wide drop period. It shortened UNC-CH’s current drop period from eight weeks to ten days. Any course dropped after the 10th day of the semester will appear as a withdrawal on students’ transcripts. The policy is required to go into effect by the fall of 2014.
“The wonderful thing about the eight-week drop/add policy is that it allows students to challenge themselves, and take risks with their education,” Davis-Jones said.
Davis-Jones said she wanted more transparency from the Board of Governors and also wanted the student voice to factor more into their policies.
Jan Boxill, UNC’s Faculty Chair, said at a Board of Trustees committee meeting in September that it was a “one-size-fits-all” policy that will not help Carolina’s students succeed. She said receiving a “W” on a transcript created a stigma concerning the student’s academic credentials.
Student Body President Christy Lambden told the Board of Trustees that he also was against the policy.
In 2004, UNC lengthened the drop period from six to eight weeks, according to a University publication.
When the policy was introduced in the fall of 2012, it was met with resistance from then UNC Student Body President Will Leimenstoll and the Faculty Executive Committee, who voted unanimously against the proposal.
“It implied that students shouldn’t be pushing their education to its limits,” Davis Jones said. “They shouldn’t be challenging themselves, and they shouldn’t be courageous with their electives.”
Students outside the meeting were also protesting the Board of Governor’s ban on gender-neutral housing, a program that would have allowed males and females to live together in the same University dorm suites or apartments.
The UNC Board of Trustees voted last November to allow gender-neutral housing. Former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp backed the Trustees’ decision, saying it would help keep students safe.
However, in August, UNC System leaders overturned the Trustees’ decision, and halted the program before it could begin the pilot year. The measure passed unanimously without discussion.
UNC Senior Kevin Claybren served as the Student Coordinator of the Gender Non-Specific Housing Coalition. He was set to live with three other females in Ram Village Apartments, the first four students to participate in the program at UNC.
“Right now we are just trying to show the Board of Governors that we care about this issue,” Claybren said. “We are not going to stop talking about this issue. We will continue to keep showing up as long as it is something that matters to us. We also want to make sure that students who don’t have voices are really heard and are visible.”
The program would have allowed males and females to share bathrooms and common areas in suites or apartments, but not share the same bedroom. The program was voluntary and only available in designated buildings.
Fifty-five University departments and groups supported the program, including the UNC Parents Council, student government and the executive branch of the student government. More than 2,000 students signed a petition in favor of gender neutral housing.
Chair of the Board of Governors, Peter Hans, said at the August 9th meeting that to enacting a policy change is a two-step process. First, the measure is taken up by the Governance Board, which was done in June, and then it goes to the full Board. Hans said there was no opposition to the policy change “whatsoever.”
“Our board wants every student to be safe and comfortable and included. The Board believes there are more practical ways to achieve those goals than assigning young men and young women to the same dorm rooms and campus suites,” Hans said on August 9.