The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

Polls

Will you vote early this year?

  • Yes (97%, 37 Votes)
  • No (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 38

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A conversation with Governor Roy Cooper

A+conversation+with+Governor+Roy+Cooper

HBCUs continue to be at the epicenter of the talented graduates who go on to make change happen in their respective fields. From serving as a community place for young Black adults to teaching its students to be the best they can be in a world that already counts them out.

However, these remarkable institutions are not without their issues. And for N.C. A&T, a land grant institution, that receives its funding, a lot of its policies and more, from the state. These issues are part of what stunts the growth of what A&T can be.

The A&T Register sat down with Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina to speak with him about his goals for this year in office and whether some of those very issues would be included in his agenda.

(This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.) 

Underfunding has been one of the bigger issues historically plaguing HBCUs nationwide. N.C. A&T is the nation’s largest HBCU and is based here in North Carolina; what are some specific next-step measures that you and your office have in mind to address infrastructure, resources/updated supplies, and career opportunities for students and faculty alike that do not solely focus on the STEM side of things? 

Governor Cooper: We have to work to convince both Congress at the federal level and our state legislature to do more in the area of funding for all of our HBCUs. Everything that HBCUs have done for our state, helps us, particularly in creating so many great jobs, because people are flocking here because of our great higher education across the board. We need to do more. Because we know that our HBCUs have been underfunded over the years. And I think if we give them more to work with, they can pay faculty more and keep and retain good faculty. They can provide more help for students to make higher education more affordable for students. And they can provide the materials and all of the things that they need to succeed. Funding is key and I think there’s a really strong movement not only across North Carolina but across the country that we need to do better, and A&T is one of our shining stars, and we need to continue to make sure that we polish up and continue to hope that it continues to thrive.

Recently, A&T’s student body fought to keep early voting sites on campus. As important as early voting is for young people, what are some specific initiatives you are looking to improve accessibility for early voting sites in the Greensboro community?

We should be making it easier for people to vote. Voting always needs to be secure. That’s critical. But what you have a lot with Republicans in the General Assembly who control it, is they continue to pass laws to make it harder to vote. A lot of those laws are determined to violate the Voting Rights Act because they have a discriminatory basis. They pick out people that they don’t think are going to vote for them. And then they try to make it harder for those kinds of people to vote. And young people, Black people, are often targets for the legislature because they want to try to make it harder for people in those demographic groups to vote. I brought a lawsuit when they tried to take that authority away from the governor to appoint the elections board. And so far, they haven’t succeeded.

What I want is as many early voting places as we possibly can. I think it makes a lot of sense to have early voting sites at or near our universities, particularly at A&T, which has so many students. One of the things that I want to do is, I want to encourage young people across North Carolina and across the country to vote. I talked to so many students who care passionately about the issues. They care about gun violence, discrimination, climate change, public schools and women’s reproductive freedom, but oftentimes, those informed, passionate positions don’t translate into actually registering to vote and dropping a vote in the ballot box. And sometimes that’s because college students often are transient. So, “Do I register to vote where I’m going to school, do I register to vote back home?” And sometimes you start thinking about it, and then you don’t do either one and then you don’t vote. So I want to encourage young people to participate. And I think early voting sites near where people are, are important. And we got to keep working to do that.

Board of Elections adds N.C. A&T to early voting sites

To address the first question I asked, for 2024 and moving forward, what initiative do you have under your policy or government to address specifically for infrastructure for HBCUs? Or with allocating funds for HBCUs. Because A&T is a land grant institution, the state is the main point of contact in terms of funding for our school.

We need to do better. So it’s not just funding for the operation of the university, there’s infrastructure funding, and not just funding for new buildings, we also need repair and renovation funding as well and we need to do more of that. My budget will have that as we present it to the General Assembly because we’ve got to keep the structure running and make sure that we have enough repair money to be able to replace broken systems like that. 

N.C. A&T students forced to relocate after a shortage of heat and hot water in dorms

A&T has been no stranger to gun violence, last semester within the first week back, two incidents of gun violence threatened students’ safety. What are your initiatives in 2024 to address these issues here at A&T and in North Carolina?

Well first, gun violence is unacceptable, particularly on our college campuses, which should be some of the safest places in our state. This is an area where I believe young people and voting could make a real difference. There are elected leaders like me, like President Biden, and others in the General Assembly, who want an Assault Weapons Ban. I believe that we should work to reduce the number of guns coming into the system and make sure that criminals, children, and people who have mental disabilities, where they could hurt people, who are a danger to themselves or others; keep guns out of the hands of those people. And right now you have an elected legislature in North Carolina that not only doesn’t want to take those steps, but wants to go backward and eliminate a gun permit law in North Carolina that helped to protect and reduce the amount of handguns going to people, and that really shouldn’t happen.

So I think we still need to work to change policies to deal with guns themselves. Now what I’ve worked to try to do is to work with communities across the state to educate people, because we can’t get the legislature to change right now, educating people on how to keep guns safe, how to protect children from guns, how to keep your guns from being stolen; after all, a lot of people who want to engage in crime are stealing guns— and trying to learn how to keep guns safe. This is one of the most important issues of our time. So many people are losing their lives to gun violence in our communities, and people have had enough of it. We’ve got to get into communities and work with them, work on getting people jobs, work on getting people affordable housing, work on making sure that people get treated for substance use disorder and mental illness. This is a multi-pronged problem that’s going to require us to take a lot of steps to reduce it. 100%, this has to be an issue, and this is where young people can matter in this next election if they come out and vote.

N.C. A&T sends out AggieAlerts after multiple shootings on the same day

Why did you specifically wish to speak to The A&T Register and the A&T community?

A lot of our future journalists come from our university campuses and our university newspaper. So I encourage all of your staff there who are working, to continue to think about communication skills and writing skills. And I know how important our universities are to our future well-being. This is where the next great engineer, the next great doctor, the next great astronaut, or the next great scientist who will find a cure for cancer comes from. But, you also train everyday people to take great paying jobs in North Carolina. And you also just get to learn about each other and how to begin adult life on a college campus. North Carolina A&T State University is one of our greatest universities, and I wanted to get a chance to talk to you guys today and I’m really glad that I did. I look forward to coming back to campus.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW INCLUDED: The U.S. VP visits N.C. A&T

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