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Carolina United's dialogue examines Ferguson situation

Carolina United hosted “A Community Dialogue on Race and Police Accountability” on Tuesday in the Student Union. More than 150 students attended the event.

Carolina United, a five-day, four-night program held before the first week of classes, brings together 90 rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to discuss topics about diversity and leadership. Tuesday’s dialogue on race and police accountability was the first large-scale event Carolina United has ever hosted.

The discussion was planned in response to the Aug. 9 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson. The unarmed teenager was shot by police and has sparked a national conversation about race and police force.

“When we came back to campus, we found it was affecting people in a really large way,” said Reena Gupta, a Carolina United director.

The event was supported by the UNC Black Student Movement, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Carolina Hispanic Association, among others.

The events in Ferguson have already spurred action on campus. BSM held a “Don’t Shoot” event in the Pit. Trey Mangum, BSM president, said he supports discussion of issues regarding the treatment of minorities.

“I hope students attending will begin to see this issue as not a single issue and see that it’s part of a larger problem in society that needs to be fixed and solved,” he said.

The event included partnered, small group and large group discussions of identity, race and the events in Ferguson.

Gupta said the dialogue reflected Carolina United’s mission to create a safe space of tolerance where students feel safe enough to express their viewpoints and be vulnerable.

Ten representatives from community organizations volunteered to facilitate the small group discussions.

“Oftentimes, having such a discussion allows students to decompose in a positive way and see other perspectives,” said DeVetta Holman Nash, assistant director for Student Wellness.

A number of students found the discussion thought-provoking, including senior global studies major Nicole Fauster.

“I got a lot out of it because it gave me the opportunity to sit down with people on campus that I don’t know or seemingly have a connection to and discuss really, really pressing issues,” Fauster said.

The event ended with a moment of silence for Michael Brown.

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