Teach-out contribution from Sarah-Kathryn Bryan–

I have been a feminist activist since I came to UNC Chapel Hill two years ago.

I became particularly interested in Art Pope’s influence in the state of North Carolina last September, when the Pope Center published a blog post entitled, “Carpet Bombing Identity ‘Studies'”.  http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=2739

I am a Women’s and Gender Studies major with a minor in Latina/o Studies.

To quote the blog post’s author, George Leffe, “The purpose of ‘studies’ departments is far more political than educational.”

I would like to remind Leef and others who share this belief that all education, whether in the fields of English, Biology, or History, is inherently political, especially in this public university system threatened with the closure of entire campuses, and in light of massive budget cuts.

In addition to the $400 million in budget cuts the UNC system has already sustained, the General Assembly has proposed an additional $139 million in cuts.

But according to another Pope Center blog contributor, Jay Schalin, “Sometimes ignorance is better than education.”

Why would Art Pope, a self-purported supporter of higher education, allow his name to be associated with such statements?

The actions of North Carolina General Assembly members, whose campaigns owe their success to Art Pope’s millions of dollars in donations, speak louder than Pope Center bloggers’ words.
The General Assembly has stacked the UNC Board of Governors with white male republicans.  The majority of the newly elected members are majority white, male, republican, and businessmen, not educators.  Where are the voices of the women and the people of color who as citizens of North Carolina are stakeholders in the university  system on the Board of Governors?
The General Assembly has also levied attacks on women’s control over their own bodies.  Proposed legislation would make exposure of a woman’s breast or nipple a misdemeanor incurring up to a $1,000 fine or jail time.
Other proposed legislation would include anti-choice ideology in public sexual education curricula, specifically “induced abortion as a cause of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies”; the CDC, WHO, and AMA have found no correlation between the two.
By supporting the misinformation of young people, by legislating sanctions on women’s bodies, and ensuring that the UNC Board of Governors only represents a small percentage of the North Carolina population, the General Assembly is working in the best interests of their financial benefactors (like Art Pope).  They are not working to foster a more prosperous future for North Carolinians.