Dear Carolina Community,
Over the past year our nation has engaged in a rising level of discourse about race, intellectual diversity, religion, identity and culture. These issues also speak to Carolina’s mission. Over the course of the year, you have made it clear how firmly you believe that our community must continue to champion equality for all of us, no matter our race, culture, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or political belief. We are proud of the way our students, staff, faculty and alumni have engaged with conviction around these issues. It is our deep seated determination to see every member of our community treated fairly and with respect, and we want to work with you to make sure conversations about such important issues take place routinely on our campus.
In December, we sent you a message promising to create opportunities for more dialogue, and we began reaching out to you for ideas. You responded with passion and creativity, and today, we are announcing a broad initiative building from these ideas. We are calling this Carolina Conversations. It is a set of interconnected activities designed to support, help facilitate and encourage these critical conversations. The initiative will be hosted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and the intent is to include all students (undergraduate, graduate and professional), and all staff and faculty from all schools.
To kick off this initiative we are sponsoring the following activities this semester:
My Carolina Voice: Large-scale gatherings scheduled on a regular basis, to provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to share their experiences on campus and within the community with each other and University administrators. The forums will offer facilitated space for participants to promote interaction, understanding, and respect.
The Carolina Pulse: Smaller gatherings scheduled on a regular basis, and at special times as needed, to discuss current events and their impact on our community. These gatherings will offer diverse groups of individuals the chance to come together in facilitated discussions.
My Chance: Funding and assistance also will be made available to encourage grassroots interactions between individuals or groups of differing cultures, beliefs and experiences, including student organizations (both undergraduate and graduate/professional), as well as unaffiliated students, faculty and staff. Resources may include funding for food and supplies, logistical assistance and provision of space and facilitation. There will be an application process.
On Friday, March 20, we will launch the Carolina Conversations web portal. This portal will provide more detailed information about the Carolina Conversations initiative, including a calendar where you can submit related events. To access the portal, please visit carolinaconversations.unc.edu.
In the coming weeks, other important activities related to these issues also will be taking place, including addressing the naming of campus buildings, auditing campus public art and imagery, and working with Student Government as they seek to create new processes to identify and diversify speakers that are brought to campus each year.
Carolina is our home, a home where all must be safe, welcome, heard and valued. We have big dreams and high expectations for Carolina, and our best is still ahead.
Carol L. Folt