UNC Board of Governors discuss ‘difficult questions’ about HB2

Board Chairman W. Louis Bissette, Jr. and system President Margaret Spellings

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The UNC Board of Governors met Tuesday to discuss a letter sent to them by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The letter states that if enacted, House Bill 2 will mean that the UNC System is violating Title IX, which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

UNC System President Margaret Spellings is taking the letter seriously. She sent a letter back to the DOJ saying the board of governors scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday afternoon.

Following the meeting, Board Chairman W. Louis Bissette, Jr. and Spellings issued a brief statement on behalf of the board that said in part the system will continue its “primary mission of educating students.”

Spellings said it was certain the system could not operate without federal funding.

Bissette also said the board agreed to begin its search for legal counsel for the DOJ lawsuit against the system.

“Our first responsibility as a University is to serve our students, faculty, and staff and provide a welcoming and safe place for all. The University takes its obligation to comply with federal non-discrimination laws very seriously,” Spellings said in her response to the DOJ. “We also must adhere to laws duly enacted by the State’s General Assembly and Governor, however. HB2 remains the law of the State, and the University has no independent power to change that legal reality.”

The lawsuit filed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday puts UNC in a tough spot. The university now faces losing $1.4 billion of federal funding.

In the weeks after HB2 was passed, Spellings had said the university system would comply. Spellings has since backtracked and says she has concerns the law would send the wrong message and hurt recruitment efforts.

That’s really going to put a lot of pressure on the education system, including UNC itself to come out and support the attorney general’s move, which is a correct move. I support it even as a student,” said John Hu.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has said she won’t stop federal funding to UNC right now because they have agreed to work with the DOJ.

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