Margaret Spellings, the Republican operative hired to run the UNC system after the board of governors canned Tom Ross, told the media at N.C. Central last Friday that she just wants student protesters to give her "a chance to lead this enterprise."
That last word—enterprise—didn't sit well with the fifty or so students who later protested outside the Hoey Administration Building.
"I declare today that we are not customers, as Spellings has remarked," student protester Rebekah Barber said.
"Her time as secretary of education under the Bush administration corroborates that she is profit-driven and not for the betterment of historically black colleges and universities," added another protester.
Spellings, a former secretary of education who started at UNC March 1, visited NCCU on Friday as part of her "listening tour" of UNC's seventeen campuses. While there, she spoke with students and was treated to a jazz performance.
"This is a mighty engine of prosperity and opportunity in this city, and I'm gonna be a frequent visitor, Deb," Spellings told Chancellor Debra Saunders-White at the press conference.
Spellings told the press she takes all the recent demonstrations against her in stride. "What I'm hearing them say is that they want to be heard," she said. "They want to be heard by me, and they want to be heard by the board of governors, and they want to be heard by the legislature. And I think that's fair and that's right."
That would be encouraging were it not for this: later this month, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest is expected to introduce the comically named Campus Free Expression Act, which proposes punishments—to be determined by the board of governors—for students and faculty members who disrupt public meetings with protests.