Another example I couldn’t give in my column

Every two weeks or so, my Opinion Editor gives me the chance to talk to my readers. Normally, I ask them to celebrate the good work the newsroom has done. Sometimes, I’ll beg them to apply to work for the greatest college newspaper in the country.

This week, I chastised some of them for failing to keep up with our coverage.

There have been a number of student protests this year that have relied on arguments of ignorance. In my column, I talked about the University’s recent decision to hold its transition to contextualized grading on transcripts — a decision that came after students claimed they knew nothing about the change.

And while that movement irked me, there’s one group that I’m even more disappointed in.

In February, the UNC-system Board of Governors will decide the fates of nine UNC research centers and institutes. You can read the list of institutes on the chopping block here. In response, a dozen or so students have stepped up to protest the closures, arguing that these centers and institutes (and the students who love them) didn’t have enough time to prove their worth.

Only they did.

I first covered this issue in May, after attending a Board of Trustees meeting in Chapel Hill. I told readers that the cuts to centers and institutes would total $13.1 million system-wide. And no one said anything.

In August, after the centers and institutes spent the summer scrambling to prove their worth, we revisited the issue. We told readers how the centers and institutes had already sustained a 35 percent cut to their budget since 2008, and we weren’t sure they could handle much more. Closures seemed imminent. And no one said anything.

We’ve covered every aspect of the Board of Governors’ spending review, from the centers and institutes chosen for review to the center’s response. And no one said anything along the way.

The thing about students being late to the game on this protest is that these centers and institutes won’t be something we can revisit in a few months, like administrators will do with contextualized grading. They’ll be closed, and closed for good. We could lose these places on campus that make this great big place feel a little more welcoming to marginalized populations on campus.

So, again I say. Students need to read their newspaper. I’m still learning how to produce local news in a way that’s relevant and interesting to read for an age group that would rather do anything else. But I’m working really really hard to do my part. And students must do theirs.

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