“In terms of the report, it did what it was supposed to do,” Parsons said. “It followed the paper trail, and, unfortunately, the paper trail led to the (African, African American and diaspora studies) department.”
But she said some of the framing in the report was skewed and could lead people to make false assumptions about the proportion of African-American students who took paper classes.
Bailey said the report devalues the AAAD department.
“If it takes requiring an AAAD class as a gen ed, I’m all for that,” Bailey said. “The ignorance is outstanding.”
Senior Jennell McIntosh, UNC NAACP president, noted how easily people make false assumptions about the report.
“A lot of people have a glossed-over version of this account after reading it on Twitter or from friends,” McIntosh said.
Chancellor Carol Folt was among those in attendance.
“I feel awful about it,” Folt said. “And yet somehow, I wake up every morning really excited, and this is because this place is so incredible. I feel a deep obligation to make sure you don’t feel your degree is tarnished.”
Those at the panel agreed that open conversations about the report’s racial implications should continue.
“We have a chancellor that is listening, that is paying attention,” history professor Genna McNeil said. “We can’t be a No. 1 public university unless everyone knows there are safe spaces you can go.”
McIntosh stressed the importance of student initiative moving forward.
“It’s important to remember (the panel) was student-organized,” she said. “Hearing from faculty is great, but it’s the students that need to be the change in the University.”
Other students asked for change from higher authority.
“The time to do something is now,” senior Toyosi Oyelowo said. “I am tarnished to the point of tears. I’m black and blue. But I stand, and I need a system that stands for me.”