February 10, 2012
Turning higher education from constitutional right into privilege
The UNC Board of Governors voted today to allow schools in the University of North Carolina system to begin raising tuition and fees. The move is a direct result of the North Carolina General Assembly’s state budget which forced deep cuts to public education.
North Carolina NAACP President, Rev. William Barber, joined students at the Board of Governors meeting to protest the hikes, which will amount to as much as 9.9% at UNC Chapel Hill. In what has become a calling card of the Occupy movement, Rev. Barber led protesters in a mic check, during which he called for a new student movement to rise up and put a check on our out-of-control state legislature.
“We are right to protest these cuts by the General Assembly. They take our state, our future, and our education backwards! We are the generation that refuses to accept going backwards.”
North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews also attended the protests, today, to march with the students and speak at their rally. The right-wing’s war on higher education is an extension of the broader effort by some extremist politicians to turn access to a quality education into a privilege instead of a right.
By the way, access to quality public education is a constitutional right in North Carolina. Furthermore, our state constitution says that higher education should be free as far practicable.
“The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
The cuts last year imposed by the state legislature and the hikes of tuition and fees approved today by the UNC governors are a reminder of just how far our state has fallen from living up to its constitutional obligation to the people of North Carolina.