Nearly 700 professors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have signed a letter opposing legislation that would require students to take courses on America’s founding documents.

673 professors at UNC Chapel Hill called proposed bills “overreach” that “violate[s] the principles of academic freedom” in a letter authored by History Professor Jay M. Smith and Law Professor Maxine Eichner.

North Carolina HB715 would eliminate faculty tenure, and replace it with one to four-year contracts, and HB96 seeks to require college students to take at least 3 credits of an American Government and History course to earn a diploma. Students would be required to read founding documents such as the Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federalist Papers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, and the Gettysburg Address.

Earlier this year, the Board of Governors (BoG) at UNC Chapel Hill eliminated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) declarations — a move the 673 professors called an “attack” that “violate[s] the First Amendment and interfere[s] with the unfettered pursuit of truth and enlightenment.” The BoG, however, said they were excluding the DEI statements from hiring and admissions standards citing concerns regarding “compelled speech.”

“Requiring a statement from an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to demonstrate an ideological commitment cuts against the constitutional rights afforded within the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

General Counsel to the UNC System Andrew Tripp — Campus Reform

The letter continues by accusing the BoG and state legislators of “continu[ing] to disregard campus autonomy, attack the expertise and independence of world-class faculty, and seek to force students’ educations into pre-approved ideological containers.”

Smith, who co-authored the letter, lamented that if the legislation were to pass, removing tenure protection for professors for “no good reason,” would halt all discussion surrounding “reproductive health care and climate change” in the classroom.

Another professor who signed the opposition letter claimed, “They want UNC to be a whiter campus, both at the faculty level and ultimately among the student body.”

All 673 professors and UNC-Chapel Hill faculty have been added to Turning Point USA’s Professor Watchlist.

This piece originally appeared on TPUSA.

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