“This semester we’ve done a lot of great work, but what’s missing is the party,” said Dylan Mott, member of The Real Silent Sam Coalition. “This is our celebration.”
Although the event is a celebration of the people of color activist community, organizers call it a “takeover.”
“This is a takeover, but it’s not that we are taking space from anybody,” Mott said. “It’s taking space back and making ourselves visible.”
Student groups present at the event include the Black Student Movement, #NotSafeUNC, Real Silent Sam, Students for Justice in Palestine, Monsoon and RadAsians.
“So many black and brown people on the quad is in itself an action,” said Nikhil Umesh, a former Daily Tar Heel columnist. “You can’t remove the fact that it’s an action from the fact that it’s a celebration.”
A large portion of the event will promote the campaign #NotSafeUNC, which is a social media-based movement that highlights instances when students felt unsafe on campus.
Through Yik Yak, some people said they were upset that this event was occurring in the quad on LDOC. Black Student Movement member Ishmael Bishop, formerly a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel, said they expect altercations from some drunk students who want to use the quad as a place to party after their last class.
“It takes a really inconsiderate person to say they don’t want us on the quad because they just want to get drunk after a hard semester,” he said. “Well, I’ve had a hard semester, and this is how I want to celebrate, and these are the people I want to celebrate with.”
Mott said the organizers are aware of comments made over social media but that they do not deter the activists.
“UNC is a predominately white institution, and I know from personal experience and all these Yik Yaks and the absurd reactions to this event that anything that challenges that predominance is viewed as threatening,” Mott said. “As an activist it makes me frustrated, and as a person it makes me feel unsafe.”
The organizers of the event took precautions to ensure it is a safe space for participants. At planning meetings, the organizers decided to have certain people prepared to deal with conflict.
“I am worried about there being trouble,” Bishop said. “What has been decided is there are people designated who will be there for safety — designated safe people. They will engage or disengage with hecklers, and if someone feels unsafe, they can go to that person for support.”
Umesh said it wouldn’t receive criticism if it were organized by white students.
“If this is a problem, why is it a problem that people of color are occupying a space we all have access to? Are certain bodies being tied to acts of violence before anything has even occurred?” he said. “I think critics of this event need to ask themselves these questions.”