Anti-Spellings protest erupt across campus and N.C.

As the newly elected University of North Carolina system president walked into office on Tuesday, March 1, North Carolina A&T faculty and students participated in a walk out.  


Students and faculty were encouraged to walk out of class at 11 a.m. and meet at Williams Dining Hall.


Many UNC schools participated in this demonstration late Tuesday morning. The 17 schools of the UNC system stood united as one under this issue. The walk out demonstration on A&T’s campus was led by Ignite NC and the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice.


Aside to being the home of A&T, North Carolina is the resident state to Shaw University, Johnson C. Smith University, Fayetteville State University, Winston-Salem State University, Elizabeth City State University and North Carolina Central University, This makes North Carolina the home to more HBCUs than any other state in the nation. Pembroke State College for Indians is affected by the decisions of the UNC Board of Governors as well.


However, each historically black state school is not funded as much as other UNC System schools.


The organizers informed the crowd of issues that are facing North Carolina’s HBCUs as a result of the decisions of the Board of Governors, including the possibility of Fayetteville State University having to change its name for lower tuition.


When asked, many A&T students were not sure why they were present for the walk out, but they were informed once they left.


Brandy Sanford was one of the students that became enlightened after she arrived at the protest. “I walked out of class and came here, I’m glad I did,” said Sanford.


“We’re out here protesting because we need education. We need access to education. We need equal access,” said Irving Allen, an A&T Alumnus-turned-activist for Ignite NC.

Sociology professor Tanya Price and English professor Byron Turnman were notable faculty members who spoke during the protest. They clarified that they represented themselves during the protest, not the University.


Price said, “I think that when the consumers, start standing up and saying we’re not buying anymore—that’s when things happen.”


Turman expressed how good it felt to see students outside of Williams Dining Hall during lunchtime. “Y’all are a very important and necessary part of the system, without y’all the system doesn’t work,” he said. “If you don’t stand in solidarity, then the system will do what they want in terms of tuition increases, horrible conditions and resources.”


(AP) Faculty Forward has led to the union group representing thousands of instructors at the University of Chicago, Georgetown University and elsewhere who are employed in teaching positions that lack the job security of tenure. Duke University’s non-tenure-track faculty decided weeks ago to pursue an election that will decide whether they will be represented by a union.


The group’s website describes its Faculty Forward campaign as pushing to improve wages and job security for the three-quarters of college instructors employed on an as-needed basis. Union employees have been used to promote anti-Spellings protests.


The Faculty Forward Network, which shares a Manhattan office address with a philanthropy that helps fund progressive organizations around the country, shares goals with the union’s similarly-named organizing drive. Faculty Forward Network specifically states one of its missions as seeking Spellings’ ouster.


“Spellings embodies the corporatization of higher education,” the group says on its website. “She is a political appointee, and she was on the board of the parent company of a for-profit school and a student debt collection agency.”


Spellings has served on corporate boards for the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix and student-loan collector Ceannate Corp.


She takes over the UNC system after heading the George W. Bush

Presidential Center in Dallas. Spellings is leaving her seat on the center’s board of directors, spokeswoman Sara Owen said in an email Monday.


Her selection suggests an increasing openness toward corporations edging further into higher education, including directing what is taught and by whom, UNC-Chapel Hill geography professor Altha Cravey said.


Opponents’ concerns include privatizing university assets like bookstores and focusing on majors with high market demand to the detriment of the liberal arts, she said.


The country’s oldest public university in Chapel Hill is highly ranked today “because there’s been this public investment over time to create a public good. So her ideology, her very view of education, is what’s troubling,” said Cravey, adding she pays monthly dues of $10 to support Faculty Forward Network.


Spellings was not available to discuss the union-affiliated opposition, university system spokeswoman Joni Worthington said.


Spellings said during recent remarks to the Board of Governors that she considered education “the new civil right” and said universities must do more to serve minority, low-income and first-generation students.


“When you get to know me,” she said, “you’ll see that I am driven to provide education and opportunity for all.”

  • Emery P. Dalesio (Associated Press) & Taylor Young (Editor-in-chief)