UPDATE, 7/28/22: The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) has responded to the discrimination against pro-lifers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, urging the student government the rescind the order and distribute funds equally and fairly.
“This is blatant viewpoint discrimination and a clear violation of fundamental First Amendment rights,” FIRE attorney Zach Greenberg said in a press release. “A student government should represent the entire student body, not abuse its power by seeking to censor classmates with opposing views.”
Greenberg further added that the decision to block funds from pro-life groups is a violation of the First Amendment. “UNC Chapel Hill’s student government cannot declare itself the arbiter of which opinions are acceptable,” he said. “We call on these student leaders to uphold their constituents’ free speech rights by doling out funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner.”
FIRE sent a letter to Taliajah Vann, the student body president, demanding the order be rescinded, and requested a response from the university no later than August 11.
7/23/22: The Student Body President of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently released an Executive Order requiring that stipulates that pro-life individuals, organizations, and companies will no longer receive funding.
The proclamation was announced via social media on July 6 by Student Body President Taliajah Vann.
Vann’s executive order prohibits the student government to “extract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.”
A subsequent Instagram post by the executive branch compiled a list of “abortion resources” for pregnant students. Any help for students seeking to continue a pregnancy was notably absent.
The student government has also organized a July 24 “Redirect the Rage” protest in response to the Supreme Court’s recent overturn of Roe v. Wade. According to a statement, “[t]he march aims to speak out against the repeal of federal protections around abortions, as well as to share important information and resources about reproductive healthcare in the state of NC.”
One campus pro-life organization that is likely to be affected by the executive order is the UNC chapter of Students for Life. In a statement calling for the student government to rescind the order, the group noted that the policy “makes Carolina a less accessible and less inclusive place for parenting students and faculty members and actively limits the opportunities and resources available to struggling families.” They also called on Vann to remember her campaign promises, in which she pledged to “create carefully crafted policy aims that are designed to help every member of the student body.”
Abby Buxton, co-president of the UNC Students For Life chapter, spoke to the Daily Caller about the executive order. “I think that it is extremely troubling that an organization who is committed to serving the entire student body has taken actions that do not consider the diversity of thought on campus,” she said. “I have received email after email from different faculty about how UNC should embrace diversity and make campus a safe place for everyone. However, when it comes to diversity of thought I do not find this mission being upheld, especially in recent events.”
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