Local News

UNC system officials weigh hate-crimes policy

Posted September 17, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— The UNC Board of Governors got their first look Thursday at a proposal for handling hate crimes on the University of North Carolina system's 16 campuses.

A panel appointed by UNC President Erskine Bowles recommended in March adopting a uniform code of conduct should prohibit actions defined by federal and state laws as hate crimes. The panel said any policy also should support free speech on campus.

Bowles created the panel after four North Carolina State University students spray-painted racist graffiti in the campus' Free Expression Tunnel on the night President Barack Obama was elected.

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

The panel asked Bowles to appoint a separate task force to study whether all new students in the UNC system should be required to undergo diversity training.

At least one member of the Board of Governors' Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs said he didn't think a policy was needed because existing criminal laws address the situation.

UNC lawyers are drafting a formal policy to bring back to the committee for further discussion and a vote.