UNControllables brought attention to white supremacy and vandalism on Thursday with their annual event, “What UNC Doesn’t Want you to Know: Inside the University’s Dirty History of Exploitation, Scandal and Racism."
Junior Suad Jabr helped organize the talk and said the event matters because it contextualizes their time at UNC as students.
“A lot of times being a student at a university, you don’t really think about, 'OK I’m coming here, but what came before me?'" Jabr said. "Like, what’s the history here and what does this mean for my identity as a student here? It’s like an investigation into who we are and what our University is like and what our University was built on.”
Mitch Xia, senior and event organizer, said the presentation represents the information they gathered from looking through UNC archives.
“(We) thought, 'Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to do a reverse orientation where we talk about all the stuff UNC doesn’t talk about?'” Xia said.
Xia discussed the protests at UNC during the civil rights movement in 1963, as well as controversy surrounding Silent Sam. They said the statue has been vandalized numerous times, such as in 2015 when 'KKK' was spray painted on the statue.
“Silent Sam is the most surveilled and protected spot at UNC,” Xia said.
Suad discussed the Lenoir workers strike in 1969 from when black staff members went on strike, saying they were underpaid. She said another controversy happened in 2012 when there was a student rally concerning housekeepers’ dignity and respect.
“The fact that students and workers were coming together to try to get more rights is honestly how we can see a shift," Suad said.
Xia talked about the 2013 campaign by UNC students and faculty of all backgrounds fighting for gender neutral housing.
“It was so successful that gender neutral housing gets passed by the Board of Trustees," they said.
Jabr also discussed who is in charge of the University. They said that most of the Board of Governors are white Republican males.
First-year Gabe Simpson said that one of the group leaders of UNControllables came up to them during Fall Fest and asked them a question about the political system, which inspired them to attend Thursday's event.
“I know they do a lot of stuff talking about dismantling white supremacy and patriarchy,” they said. “I’m very excited to learn more about them and get involved.”
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