Dear Campus Community:
As we pass the fall semester halfway mark, we’d like to share with you progress we’ve made on our diversity and inclusion initiatives. Our goal is to continue our efforts to ensure Carolina is a safe and welcoming place where everyone can thrive, and, as we promised, to keep you informed of actions that are taking place. Here are some important updates:
Carolina Conversations: We are hosting four conversations this semester, and encourage students, faculty and staff to attend. The first Carolina Conversations, held in mid-September, focused on inclusive classrooms and was led by two outstanding faculty members. More than 100 students, faculty and staff attended. In early October, more than 150 people attended the second session that focused on Detroit ’67 to Charlotte ’16 and explored parallels between the play, Detroit ’67 by PlayMakers Repertory Company and recent shootings across the country. We’ve received positive feedback about both these highly interactive sessions.
The third Carolina Conversations this term is set for Oct. 26 from 5:30-7 p.m. at FPG Student Union Aquarium Lounge. This session will focus on gender equity in education by taking a closer look at the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct (including Sexual Assault) and feedback on how we might more broadly build prevention into our policy and practice. On Nov. 30, the fourth session of the term, on implicit bias in hiring, will be held.
Naming Opportunities: As part of our University Day celebration, we announced the naming of 21 existing grants and fellowships to honor courageous people who represent noteworthy firsts in the University’s history. The suggestion to honor more prominently people who represent Carolina’s rich history came from a student, Shelby Dawkins Law, who participated in last year’s town hall. These grants will be awarded exclusively on the basis of demonstrated need.
First-Generation College Students: As part of our efforts to continue to improve student success and the transition to attending Carolina, at the beginning of the semester, we launched a special website to welcome first-generation college students. Faculty, staff and administrators shared their personal stories about being the first person in their family to graduate from college. The Carolina Firsts program, the admissions office and University Communications collaborated on emails helping Carolina Firsts understand how they could make full use of summer orientation.
Latinx Student Requests: Recently, Latinx students held a demonstration at South Building to share a number of concerns. Several senior UNC leaders, including several of us, attended the demonstration to speak to the students and assure them that their concerns were heard, and that we would respond to them. We plan to meet with the student leaders soon to discuss plans moving forward.
Campus Tours: The UNC Visitors’ Center continues to plan for scaling-up the Priceless Gem Tours and increasing marketing efforts. Work is also underway to create a virtual online tour to complement the existing walking history tours, starting with the Native Narrative and Digging in Our Heels, Angels on Campus: Herstory of Women at Carolina tours.
History Task Force: By the end of the semester, we expect to open an exhibit in Carolina Hall that will tell the story of the building, how it was named and then re-named. The exhibit, which includes photographs and a narrative, is currently undergoing a thorough review process with University historians and an advisory committee comprising faculty, staff and students. The Carolina Hall exhibit is the first of several projects underway by this group which was tasked by Chancellor Folt following the Board of Trustees resolution in May 2015.
Sexual assault policies, revisions and discussions: There have been and will continue to be wide-ranging discussions about sexual assault across campus, including during the next Carolina Conversations. Although sexual assault was not specifically discussed in the town hall last November, it remains one of the most important safety, personal, and gender equity issues facing our community as well as university communities across the nation. In response to several requests for clarifying information over the past few weeks about the University responds to reports of sexual assault, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office assembled information in the form of frequently asked questions and answers now available on this web page. We hope that you will take some time to review the information and that you will join us this Wednesday at the next Carolina Conversations event to continue the discussion.
Mental health: More mental health professionals have been hired by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Student Wellness. Those professionals are working to ensure all students are served, including those who may not access help through traditional channels.
Throughout this process, we’ve been moved and inspired by the way our students have come together to generate a proactive dialogue about diversity and inclusion, and we promise we will keep that conversation and real action moving forward. Thank you for your ideas and suggestions!
Carol L. Folt
James W. Dean Jr.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Felicia A. Washington
Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement
Special Assistant to the Chancellor and Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Published October 25, 2016.