House Bill 96 would require the teaching of American History and Government to counter the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) requirements currently imposed by UNC. Those requirements, according to the National Association of Scholars, comprise "compelled speech" and "grossly abridge free expression and institutional neutrality."
"The only long-term guarantee for intellectual freedom at UNC is for North Carolina policymakers to forbid and defund all DEI mission statements, programs, policies, and bureaucracies," the NAS argues in a statement.
NAS research director David Randall tells AFN that those who signed onto the letter "were not at all justified in what they said because they are the problem. They are the politicization, the radicalization of North Carolina education."
Two UNC professors among the signatories, however, contend HB 96 "constitutes a clear violation of the established principle that faculty – not politicians – are responsible for a college's curriculum." Randall contests that statement.
"The citizens have always had a right to set the basics of curriculum in the public university," he explains. "[Indeed] there has been a delegation of the authority to professors and administrators, but only so long as they continue to strive for academic freedom and the interests of American citizens."
An accompanying bill, House Bill 715, would replace tenure with at-will or contractual employment, which the bill's authors say is necessary. Explaining why it supports that bill, NAS says "… tenure in our corrupted system of higher education has become a weapon against intellectual freedom, not a defense of it."