The Carolina Black Caucus is putting pen to paper to show its support for UNC administrators and the African-American community.
The caucus issued a statement Feb. 1 in response to ongoing controversies about the academic abilities of student-athletes.
“The caucus is making a statement showing support for our University in light of the media inaccuracies, in light of the frustration and hurt felt by students, staff, faculty administrators. And so the caucus decided to respond to the public,” said Deborah Stroman, chairwoman of the Carolina Black Caucus, in an interview .
The caucus is made up of administrators, staff, faculty and a few graduate students, she said.
In the letter, members expressed support for black students, coaches, faculty and alumni along with administrators and the Department of African, African-American and Diaspora Studies.
African studies professor Reginald Hildebrand said he supports the statement but is not taking anyone’s side.
“The efforts to support student-athletes and others, particularly students of color, and be seen as full members of this community without impuning them, is an important statement that we have to make,” he said. “On the other hand, if there are needs that have to be addressed, that needs to be addressed.”
Sophomore Toyah Johnson said the statement was refreshing.
“It’s just kind of an introduction as to what we go through. I think it’s good that it doesn’t attack the University because, I mean, we all love the school; we’re all here. I think it just highlights issues without attacking,” she said.
Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project in Chicago, which aims to decrease the racial academic achievement gap, said he disagrees with the statement. He wrote a letter in response to it in which he stated UNC staff and faculty should be ashamed for not doing more to address education inequality.
Jackson said UNC faculty and staff are destroying the academic futures of black males by defending the status quo.
“You have black faculty members defending a university that has admitted to literally, you know, cheating mostly poor black male student athletes. And that’s unconscionable,” he said.
Jackson said there should be people who make sure students are being accepted into UNC for their academic merit, not just their athletic skill.
“I wrote that letter for the second and third and fourth grade young black boys … all over North Carolina — they don’t have anybody standing up for them, advocating for them while they’re in second, third, and fourth grade to ensure that they get a good education so that they can get in the front door of the University of North Carolina and not the back door,” he said.
Instead of dwelling on problems, Stroman encouraged people to move toward fixing them.
“You have to start focusing on creating new solutions,” she said.
“But we just can’t keep beating each other up. We have to move toward lighting a candle and being positive versus just being frustrated with all the attacks and unfair statements and the inaccuracies that are floating around.”
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