After 50 demands were prioritized to five, student leaders met with Chancellor Carol Folt and members of the her cabinet to discuss how to improve race relations at UNC.
The meeting came only hours after a letter from Folt was sent to all students explaining steps to improve race relations and make UNC a more inclusive space.
Senior and activist June Beshea said the letter was not discussed at the meeting.
“I promised everyone at the thing that we would get this out before the end of the day and we’re really excited about it, feel really good about it. I had a great conversation,” Folt said after the meeting.
The letter was met with mixed reactions. Junior and activist Charity Lackey said it came off as taking away activists work.
“I think that it created the transparency some students are asking for, but it was also a maneuver to — (it) almost felt disempowering,” Lackey said. “Saying, ‘we’ve got it taken care of, we’ve got it from here’ when those aren’t the things we were asking for completely.”
Folt's letter to the student body said the University will locate a space for black students on campus, administer a campus-wide climate survey on inclusion and develop strategies for better minor student retention and minority faculty recruitment, among other efforts.
The five demands were cluster hiring within each University department to increase the number of black faculty; the revoking of the 16-year moratorium on changing University buildings’ names and the renaming of Carolina Hall to Hurston Hall; a Ph.D. program in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies; a mandatory Black and Blue Tour for new UNC students; and published data on the home page of the UNC website displaying the admission and the graduation rates of minority students.
“Those are the ones we thought would be easily accomplished at this table,” Beshea said.
Lackey said the meeting seemed to be a reiteration of past meetings and protests, but this space was more about what is going to be done in the future.
“There was more so a discussion between this is what we’re trying to do and pinpointing the gaps and that’s a very important aspect of getting these things done ... finding the gaps between what administration thinks that they’re doing, student perception (of what the administration is doing) and closing the gap,” Lackey said.
Senior and activist Kescia Hall said the meeting was about figuring out what could be done soon.
“What I hope for is our demands or things we suggested to be taken into consideration,” Hall said. “For a different task force to be developed and for us to be able to see things are starting.”
Beshea said although not everything can be accomplished in one meeting, it means something that the administration is thinking about their demands and listening to students’ issues.
This issue, though, is far from solved said third year PhD student Terrell Morton.
“There are definitely a lot of steps being put in the right direction,” Morton said.
“Does that mean the work ends? No. Does that mean that there needs to be more work done? Yes.”
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