UNC system OKs tuition increases, hate crime policy

Posted February 12, 2010 1:20 p.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2010 3:12 p.m. EST

— The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday approved tuition increases for the coming year and a uniform code of conduct to address possible hate crimes on the 16 campuses in the UNC system.

The board also heard some details about an internal audit at North Carolina Central University that showed improper payments to some employees of a program based at the Durham school.

State lawmakers last year mandated tuition increases to help balance the budget. Under the guidelines, each campus must raise tuition for the 2010-11 school year by the lesser of 8 percent or $200, with the extra revenue going to the state's General Fund.

The board, however, followed the lead of UNC President Erskine Bowles, who criticized the mandate and said the schools need the tuition money to provide financial aid to families squeezed by the recession and to address campus needs.

Under the proposal approved by the board, in-state students at UNC-Chapel Hill would pay $200 more, while North Carolina State University students would pay an extra $150 and N.C. Central students would pay $113 more. Fayetteville State University students would see tuition go up by $124, while East Carolina University students would pay an extra $90.

The increases, which don't include the student fees each campus also charges, must be approved by lawmakers this spring. If they reject the board's proposals, the mandated increases would take effect.

The board also approved a policy for handling hate crimes on campus. The uniform code of conduct prohibits actions defined by federal and state laws as hate crimes while expressing support for free speech on campus.

A panel Bowles created recommended the code of conduct a year ago. Bowles appointed the panel after four N.C. State students spray-painted racist graffiti in the campus' Free Expression Tunnel on the night President Barack Obama was elected in November 2008.

The state chapter of the NAACP called for the students to be expelled, but N.C. State officials said they had no grounds to do that.

Bowles also updated the board about the N.C. Central audit of the Historically Minority Colleges and Universities Consortium. The program represents a dozen public and private institutions across the state that have traditionally had heavy minority enrollment and administers grants to help close the achievement gap between minority and white students.

N.C. Central Chancellor Charlie Nelms, who ordered the audit last fall following allegations the program was ineffective, discounted the findings of the audit, saying it needs more work to determine if any wrongdoing actually occurred.

"The thing that we don’t want to have happen is for good work to be tarnished by a report that is not accurate," Nelms said Friday. "We are going to produce an accurate report, and we are going to take the appropriate actions to deal with any kind of inadequacy that exists there, including the termination of anyone that may have engaged in behavior that is inconsistent with the values of this institution.”