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UNC-Chapel Hill Trustees Support New Student Fee For Campus Maintenance

The Old Well and flowers on the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill.
Brian Batista
The Old Well and flowers on the UNC- Chapel Hill campus.

UNC-Chapel Hill trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to support a new student fee that would help fund the renovation and repair of campus buildings. Historically, the state has footed the bill for such maintenance.But according to a presentation to the Board of Trustees finance committee on Wednesday, state funding for repair and renovation has been “inconsistent and insufficient.” Trustees said the new $65 student fee was necessary to put a dent in $850 million worth of deferred maintenance at the Chapel Hill campus.

University officials estimate the Facilities Maintenance Debt Service fee would bring in nearly $1.8 million annually, and that that amount could be used to support $23 million in debt. The fee still needs to be approved by the UNC Board of Governors, a group that has made affordability a central part of its strategic plan.

More Time For Silent Sam Deliberations

Before that vote, Board of Trustees Chairman Haywood Cochrane thanked the leader of the UNC Board of Governors for granting the trustees more time to submit a proposal for the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. Cochrane said the new Dec. 3 deadline (the board previously had until Nov. 15) would allow the board to evaluate all the options, particularly with regards to security issues.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt reminded the public that the proposal she and trustees draft is only a recommendation, and that it requires approval from the UNC and Board of Governors. Folt said she and the trustees had received thousands of messages about the statue, and that campus leaders have been soliciting feedback from their communities to share with those drafting the proposal.

“One of the takeaways for me was, how personal this is for people,” Folt said. “There’s a lot of emotion in the things people say. And I think you have to really think about that.”

She said some messages contained several paragraphs, and she noticed some were sent in the middle of the night.

“There was a lot of soul-searching,” Folt said. “And I think a lot of recognition that it could feel like we’re between a rock and a hard place...about the fact that no one idea is going to satisfy everybody. But people were aware of it and trying to really offer their suggestions, in that context.”

Protesters tore down the Confederate monument in August. It was installed nearly a century ago near the entrance to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and dedicated with a speech praising the nearby assault of a black woman. University officials have been under increasing pressure from faculty and staff to prevent its reinstallation in its original location, but several members of the UNC Board of Governors support taking that action.

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