The Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor worked with administrators to plan the event, committee member Ioan Bolohan said.
“We organized this dinner to be an inclusive event which gave students the opportunity to voice their opinions, share their concerns and engage with other student leaders to collaborate and get ideas in front of administrators,” Bolohan said.
Students discussed contemporary national racial and gender issues and how they affect UNC’s campus.
In a Jan. 14 campus-wide email, Folt told students she wanted to encourage discussion on “issues like race, justice and diversity” in the coming months.
Carla Salas, a student director for the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, said the conversation was student-run, and participants were receptive.
“Everyone was very open to other people’s ideas,” she said.
Though students did present ideas to administrators, the main goal was getting different student groups to talk to one another.
Salas said participants benefited from getting information about organizations and contact information for other students they wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Interfraternity Council President Peter Diaz said the dinner was a rare opportunity for him to meet with leaders of a diverse set of student groups.
“Being head of the IFC, I typically don’t get a chance to engage with other student groups like this and talk about a lot of these issues,” he said. “This was a really rare and awesome and special opportunity for me to engage with student leaders.”
Diaz said the IFC has a lot of room to grow when it’s collaborating with other student groups, and he would like to see the group work with campus women’s groups to discuss sexual assault.
Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain said he thought student-led protests and talks are limited because groups of students attend the same type of events again and again without as much participation from the rest of campus.
“One of the big problems on campus is that people already know the events they’re going to attend, and they attend them, and they know everyone else who’s in the room, because that’s the circle they’re operating in,” Villemain said.
Salas said she appreciated the chance to meet with so many involved students on campus.
“Everyone there was incredibly grateful to be a part of that opportunity.”
Diaz said he was happy with the event but wanted to hear more concrete steps from student government.
Villemain said he wants the discussion to expand beyond heads of organizations.
“This is a first invite. This is a conversation about how to bring other voices in.”