The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday March 22nd

African and Afro-American Studies students and faculty look to restore image

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote by Alexis Davis to Rob Stephens. It has been amended to reflect this.

African and Afro-American Studies students got their chance Monday to engage faculty in the effort to restore their department’s embattled image.

Attempting to move past the academic scandals, about four students from the University’s African and Afro-American Studies Student Union met with about nine faculty members in Vance Hall to discuss a plan of action.

The union is a group of students focused on reducing negative perceptions of their department.

Senior Sam Pride, a member of the union, said the meeting was held to encourage open lines of communication between faculty and students and discuss how the department plans to progress in the wake of the scandal.

“We want to raise awareness of what the AFAM department is really about,” Pride said. “The scandal hurt the University, but it hurt students and professors too.”

Senior Darius Ingram said he feels African and Afro-American Studies majors have lost academic credibility following the scandal.

“I want to make sure people don’t think you have a degree in a discounted major,” Darius said.

Eunice Sahle, the Department of African and Afro-American Studies chairwoman, said she was pleased that the union was putting forth an effort to communicate with the department.

“It’s important for our students to have a voice, and that’s what the meeting was all about.”

Sahle encouraged the students in attendance to form other organizations within the department.

“Be autonomous,” Sahle said. “You have agency. Organize yourselves on campus and stay in communication with us. I’m always open.”

Pride said the union is planning a forum hosted by African and Afro-American Studies students and faculty to foster a discussion about how the department can remake its image.

“We want faculty, students and media to attend the forum to explain what the department is really about,” Pride said.

“We want to put an end to the attacks on the department.”

Lydia Boyd, an assistant professor in the department, said it has weathered unfair media coverage.

“There’s a perception in the media that the department wasn’t functioning,” Boyd said.

“It was the negative non-functioning person who has come to represent the whole department. It feels very unfair.”

Kia Caldwell, a professor of African and Afro-American Studies, stressed that the department must showcase its students.

“Now and in the future, shine,” Caldwell said. “Show what a degree in AFAM can do for the world. Make a difference.”

Rob Stephens, a UNC graduate who works for the N.C. branch of the NAACP, was also in attendance.

Stephens said he was pleased with the meeting’s outcome.

“There’s such a divide between the students and faculty,” BSM President Alexis Davis said. “It’s great to see them actually come together so the department can progress.”

Kenneth Janken, an African and Afro-American Studies professor, said students and faculty should remain devoted to their work.

“Try to lead a normal life,” Janken said. “If you dwell on the past, it’s a drag.”

Contact the desk editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel's 2023 Black History Month Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive