Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of the Office of the General Counsel?
What is the role of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC)?
The basic responsibility of the Office of General Counsel is to provide comprehensive legal advice and assistance to UNC Pembroke. The Office of General Counsel provides these services on University matters to the Board of Trustees of UNC Pembroke, the principal administrators of the University, and through them, to the faculty, staff, and student government of UNC Pembroke.
The Office of General Counsel advises the University concerning the legal implications of proposed policies and actions, counsels the University as to compliance with state and federal laws and administrative regulations, drafts or reviews University contracts, and coordinates legal aspects of the University’s real, personal, and intellectual property interests.
Does OGC provide general guidance on legal issues related to the University and higher education?
Does the Office of the General Counsel provide general guidance on legal issues related to the University and higher education?
Yes. OGC can provide general guidance for members of the University community on a number of legal issues, including:
Does OGC work with other external agencies?
Does the Office of the General Counsel work with other external agencies?
Yes. OGC represents the University to a variety of external regulatory and law enforcement agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. This function requires responding to inquiries, charges, or complaints registered by or with such organizations, usually through conducting internal investigations, marshaling evidence, and developing and articulating University positions and responses in consultation with appropriate University Administrators. The General Counsel is also the primary liaison between UNC Pembroke and the Office of the North Carolina Attorney General and the Division of Legal Affairs within the UNC Office of the President.
Will OGC represent me on a personal matter?
Will the General Counsel represent me on a personal matter?
No. The General Counsel is advisor to the Chancellor, administrators, and the Board of Trustees of UNC Pembroke on legal matters involving the University. The General Counsel does not advise administrators, faculty, staff, or students on any personal matters.
Is my meeting subject to Open Meetings Laws?
Is My Meeting Subject to Open Meetings Laws?
"Official meetings" of "public bodies" must be open to the public. This includes most university standing committees and some search committees (Tier I positions).
A "public body" at UNCP is any committee or group:
- established by a vice chancellor or higher authority;
- whose membership is not just university administrators;
- that deals with matters on a university-wide basis; and
- that makes findings, decisions, or recommendations on a quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial, policy-making, or administrative action (e.g. a committee making a recommendation to the Chancellor regarding a faculty grievance).
An “official meeting” occurs when a majority of the public body attends the meeting, and the meeting is for the purposes of conducting hearings, deliberations, voting, or otherwise conducting public business. Official meetings may be conducted via conference calls or other electronic means. Informal gatherings may not be used to evade the law.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN OPEN MEETING?
Post notice: the public body must post advance notice of official meetings.
“Regular” meetings should be posted via a single posting at the first of the year or semester. If the schedule is changed, then the revised schedule shall be posted at least seven (7) calendar days before the day of the first meeting.
“Special” meetings must be posted at least 48 hours in advance (not including weekends or holidays).
“Emergency” meetings are to be limited to true emergencies, which should be “called because of generally unexpected circumstances that require immediate consideration by the public body.”
At UNCP, notices for public body meetings are posted on the bulletin boards in Human Resources (on the exterior bulletin board) and in the University Center (exterior bulletin board case on the west side of the Center). In addition, notices should be submitted to the University’s Public Communications Specialist (Mark Locklear) for notification to media outlets.
Keep Minutes: the public body must keep accurate minutes of its meetings.
Make a Motion to go into Closed Session: a public body may conduct a closed meeting to prevent disclosure of privileged or otherwise confidential information. During an open meeting session, the public body must make a motion to close the meeting and cite the law that provides for confidentiality. Some justifications for closed meetings include:
- to prevent disclosure of privileged information per NC Statutes or regulations (eg. personnel records et al.) [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(1)];
- to prevent disclosure of privileged information per the regulations or laws of the United States (eg. student records/FERPA) [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(1)];
- to prevent premature disclosure of honorary degrees, prizes, scholarships, or other awards [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(2)];
- to receive information or discussions with an attorney under the attorney-client privilege [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(3)];
- to discuss buying land, leasing property, or employment contracts [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(5)];
- to consider an employee’s qualifications, complaints about an employee, or other personnel matters [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(6)]; or
- to plan, conduct, or review reports from hearings concerning criminal misconduct or to prevent disclosure of student records [NCGS § 143-318.11 (a)(7)].
The record of the motion having been made and passed must appear in the minutes of the open session.
WHAT IF THERE IS A DISRUPTIVE PERSON AT THE MEETING?
If a person disturbs or willfully interrupts an official meeting, s/he may be directed to leave by the presiding officer. If the person fails to leave, campus police should be called immediately. There is no statutory right for any member of the public or media to speak at the meetings normally associated with UNCP.
When a public body does not comply with open meetings law, a court may declare any action taken by the public body to be "null and void." In addition, the court may award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party(ies) when a meeting is challenged in court and may direct an individual member(s) of the public body pay for such costs personally if there is an intentional violation.
N.C. General Statutes on Open Meetings are at Chapter 143, Article 33C
Call the Office of the General Counsel at 910.775.4593 for assistance.
How long do I need to retain University Records?
The UNC System Office regulates how long UNC Pembroke must retain records. The length of time a certain record must be retained depends on a few factors. To help you determine how long records must be retained before disposition is allowed, use this helpful website with a schedule:
For more information, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 910.775.4593 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Free Speech is allowed on Campus?
Free Speech is a cherished right for Americans. Our First Amendment right encourages open and honest dialogue which is a core feature of Higher Education and integral to the core values of UNCP, namely "the creation, exploration, evaluation, and articulation of ideas." Therefore, it is important to know the best way of using our First Amendment and the legal limitations a campus uses to govern expression. Here is a quick list of what a campus can and can't do:
A Campus can't...
A Campus can...
A campus can’t censor or punish speech merely because a person or group considers it offensive or hateful. A campus can censor or punish speech that meets the legal criteria for harassment, true threats, or other speech acts unprotected by the First Amendment. A campus can’t prevent protestors from having a meaningful opportunity to get their views across in an effective way. A campus can impose time, place, and manner restrictions on protests for the purpose of preventing protestors from disrupting the normal work of the campus, including the educational environment and administrative operations. A campus can’t impose content-based speech restrictions in dormitories. A campus can impose content-neutral restrictions in dormitories designed to ensure a supportive living environment for students. A campus can’t censor or punish some speakers, but not others, for putting up handbills, writing messages in chalk, or engaging in similar acts of expression. A campus can create general content-neutral regulations governing on-campus expression. A campus can’t engage in content-based discrimination against faculty, students, or other speakers or writers who seek to express themselves outside the professional educational context. A campus can engage in content-based evaluation of faculty and students who are operating within the professional educational context, as long as this evaluation is based on professional standards or peer assessments of the quality of scholarship or teaching. Colleges and universities should not impose requirements that faculty provide “trigger warnings” before presenting or assigning material that might be offensive or upsetting to students. Faculty members may choose to provide students warnings before presenting material that might be offensive or upsetting to them. Campuses can’t use the concept of “safe spaces” to censor the expression of ideas considered too offensive for students to hear. Campuses can create “safe spaces” in educational settings that ensure that individuals feel free to express the widest array of viewpoints, and can support student efforts to self-organize in ways that reflect shared interests and experiences. A campus can’t prohibit students or faculty from using words that some consider to be examples of “microaggressions.” A campus can sensitize students and faculty to the impact that certain words may have, as part of an effort to create a respectful work and learning environment. A campus cannot deny recognition to a student organization or impose sanctions against it for the views or ideas expressed by the organization, its members, or its speakers. A campus can ensure that all student organizations, as a condition for recognition and receipt of funding, be open to all students, and can impose sanctions on student organizations for conduct if it is not protected by principles of freedom of speech. Colleges and universities can’t punish speech over the internet on the ground that it is offensive. Colleges and universities can punish speech over the internet and social media that otherwise is not protected, such as true threats and harassment or speech inconsistent with professional standards. A campus should not expect university administrators to comment on or condemn every campus speech act that some person considers offensive. A campus should expect university administrators to speak out against especially egregious speech acts and, most important, encourage the university community to make its own decisions about what speech acts deserve praise or condemnation.
Chemerinsky, Erwin and Howard Gillman. Free Speech on Campus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. (Chapter 5, “What Campuses Can and Can’t Do,” pp. 111-152)
How do I conduct a survey?
Surveys are helpful research tools that can be effectively used to collect feedback, opinions, and information from a large population. UNCP uses a surveying tool called Qualtrics to create, distribute, and analyze surveys. Although surveys are useful and UNCP provides tools for faculty, staff, and students to conduct survey research, there can be some drawbacks to surveys and procedural barriers that researchers must consider. It is always good to begin by asking experienced researchers where to begin. Also, UNCP has a guide: Guide for Administrating Surveys at UNCP.
Contracting on behalf of UNC Pembroke
Contracting on Behalf of UNCP
Only persons holding certain positions with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke ("UNCP") have been delegated authority to sign contracts on behalf of UNCP (including any of its divisions, schools, offices, centers, or departments). With the exception of the Chancellor, the authority of these persons to execute contracts is limited according to the subject of the contract. To find out who has authority to execute contracts on behalf of UNCP, please see the Policy on Delegation of Authority to Sign Contracts.
As an agency of the State of North Carolina, UNCP lacks the legal capacity to agree to and is prohibited from accepting certain terms and conditions that often appear in proposed contracts, regardless of the title of the person executing the contract. Those prohibited terms can be found in the list of prohibited contract clauses.
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Higher Education Organizations
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North Carolina Law and Government
North Carolina Law and Government
- Other Links of Interest
About OGC's Website
The materials and information on the Office of the General Counsel website are presented for informational and general guidance purposes only and should not be relied upon as direct legal advice. The information on this website will be revised from time to time as appropriate, but references to law or policy may not always be current.
Please contact the Office of the General Counsel for specific legal advice related to the University.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to the UNC Charlotte Office of the General Counsel for allowing us to adapt portions of their website for UNCP's Office of the General Counsel.