The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 1st

Accepting Diversity Integral to University

Since Sept. 11, we have seen some beautiful things happen here. We have cared for each other. Islamic students, who tell me they feel safe here, are not threatened because of their faith. That is critical as we continue to embrace them and all races in the Carolina community.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the South's largest newspaper, just ran a story about race relations here. If you go the Pit, the story said, you will see students -- white, black, brown and yellow -- mingling together and engaged in conversation. That signals a healthy and diverse atmosphere.

"There is something special at Carolina," the Atlanta paper said. And that is wonderful news.

Race Relations Week helps create such a culture. I was glad to help kick off the week's festivities. The Campus Y did an excellent job in giving students a chance to candidly express their views about race relations and how we all can work toward building a stronger network of support to more effectively promote pluralism.

That dovetails with what I think Carolina should be about. We must do all we can to enhance the diversity of ethnic and cultural backgrounds because they are among the University's greatest strengths.

Diversity is a key component of the vision we have for Carolina to become first among the nation's great public universities. It is a challenge we are prepared to commit ourselves to each and every day.

Carolina remains committed to nurturing an environment in which freedom, equality and equity and a culture of pluralism can flourish. Carolina provides a setting where people of all races, backgrounds and religions can exchange ideas and develop informed opinions about the day's issues or the past history of our region, our nation and our world.

Just as importantly, the University is committed to ensuring a safe, supportive atmosphere for all of our community members. And Carolina is a place where we do celebrate differences -- they do not divide us.

Hateful speech and behavior do not belong here. It is not part of the culture we want here, and it does not reflect this community's values.

I say that knowing the rich history of Carolina and its historical role in the South. The courage of our convictions concerns Chapel Hill's legacy of providing moral leadership in the South, both old and new.

As one example of progress, we have been heartened by positive trends concerning the number of minorities enrolling at Carolina in the past two freshman classes. The ranks of Asian, black, Latino and Native American students coming to Carolina as freshman are increasing across the board.

We still need to make more gains here -- particularly to reflect the changing demographics of North Carolina -- but we are committed to doing so, and I have great confidence in the collaborative work of our admissions and minority affairs offices. We believe we are doing the right thing to send positive messages to prospective minority students.

Thanks to everyone in the campus community for what you do to make this a caring, compassionate wonderful university that really values the human spirit, values freedom of expression and values diversity as a critical component for being the best public university in America. Keep caring about each other.

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