To David Powers, Member of the Board of Governors
Members of the UNC-CH community are concerned that David Powers has decision-making power on the Board of Governors while simultaneously maintaining a profiting relationship with an industry and corporation that breeds human rights abuses for its workers (as evidenced in the Oxfam report of 2011). David Powers does not represent the values of the University system nor the interests of the UNC student body for the following reasons:
His role as lobbyist for Reynolds Tobacco directly contradicts part of the mission of the University of North Carolina system, which aims “to contribute to the solution of societal problems and enrich the quality of life in the State” through public service. Reynolds Tobacco plays a direct role in the abuse and exploitation of farmworkers in North Carolina tobacco fields and in inhumane work camps. The students, faculty, and staff on the campuses of the University of North Carolina cannot reasonably be represented by a member on the Board of Governors that actively participates in, and profits from, the violation of farmworkers’ rights if we are committed to improving quality of life in our state.
Furthermore, David Powers’s role in ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) demonstrates his commitment to representing the interests of the Tobacco industry and the Reynolds American Inc. We believe that this commitment renders his representation of the University system unsatisfactory because of ALEC’s interference in state government policies regarding education, environmental protections, and the privatization of prisons. We also believe that it is a conflict of interest for David Powers to be a member of ALEC, which supports the privatization of education, while also being on the Board of Governors for our state’s public university system.
We reject the notion that Powers’ role on the Board of Governors and as lobbyist for Reynolds are separate; a person cannot divorce their personal ethics and decision making in one job from that of another. Furthermore, he has refused to engage in conversation with students raising concerns about his role as a lobbyist for Reynolds. We believe that the members of the Board of Governors should be responsive to the concerns of students, or will otherwise be unable to adequately represent our interests. We therefore request that David Powers step down from his position on the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors.