Students defend UNCW's diversity program

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Some UNCW students are defending a program they claim is integral to their college experience after a recent remark by State Senator Thom Goolsby.

Goolsby, New Hanover County's Republican representative in the State Senate, posted on his website and Facebook page that legislators are not to blame for a tuition increase at UNCW.

Goolsby told Monday that reducing money for non-teaching programs would keep the university focused on education's top priority, the classroom. Goolsby commented on his website that cutting the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion budget in half would free up enough money to save 500 students from the tuition hike. The post reads:

"A series of moderate reforms could do much more, and administrators' decision to forego those choices and raise tuition cannot be ignored."

UNCW's diversity program offers resources like Centro Hispano, Upperman African American Cultural Center and a Women's Resource Center. Staff includes 1 part-time and 11 full-time employees. Some of those employees double as instructors, according to a spokesperson for the university.

Junior Ian Oglesby said the Safe Zone program is one of many important aspects of the diversity program. Safe Zone teaches students and faculty how to be an ally to members of the LGBTQIA community.

"Now we and these people are empowered," said Oglesby, "and they know about the issues that people face."

The program's teachings reach beyond the campus, according to Junior Shawnetta Wilson, Vice-President of the Black Student Union. She said the entire New Hanover County community benefits from the programs sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

"It brings us together as whole," said Wilson, "it helps us learn from each other."

Wilson even invited Senator Goolsby to tour the diversity offices to learn more about the programs' impact.

Goolsby said he is not suggesting any action, but merely relaying the concerns that he's heard from his constituents.

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