FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – For the first time since she took over as president of the University of North Carolina system, President Margaret Spellings found herself in the same room as demonstrators who opposed her hiring.
Spellings was at Fayetteville State on Friday morning for a UNC Board of Governors meeting.
Spellings formally took over as president on March 1. The meeting was well attended and anyone who wanted to go inside had to go through a metal detector. Security has continually gotten larger following recent demonstrations over Spellings being hired.
“I’m thrilled to be here with you to begin our work,” she said.
But some silent protesters stood up and held up signs which read, “Justice for Students. Affordable, Quality Education.” After her remarks, a group shouted “spellcheck” before leaving.
Other protesters turned their backs to Spellings while she spoke. One of those protesters, Loan Tran, explained why.
“We decided to stand up when Margaret Spellings started speaking and turn our backs on her because we wanted to let her know that students across the state of N.C. are paying attention and we want her resignation.”
Spellings and board chair Lou Bissette said the protesters were respectful at the meetinb.
“We have a public meeting,” Bissette said. “We do not have a public hearing. So we have to maintain some order in our meetings.”
On Friday, Spellings talked about teacher pay.
“Performance-based pay is at the top of my list. In order to attract world class talent to our institutions, we need to offer competitive compensation,” she said. “In addition, we want to tackle key strategic initiatives around accessibility and affordability.”
Spellings will tour all 17 UNC system campuses to learn about each one. On Wednesday she toured Fayetteville State University.
Altha Cravey, a geography professor at UNC, said, those who are protesting “won’t be intimidated.”
“We are the public. This is a public institution. We will show up.”
Under board guidelines, people who disrupt the meeting may be removed and possibly arrested.