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The Daily Tar Heel

What you missed at Friday's Faculty Council meeting

The UNC Faculty Council met for the second time this semester on Friday. The meeting began with updates on the status of Silent Sam.

“So next, turning to one of our favorite topics that I hope we won’t have to talk about too much longer: Silent Sam,” said Leslie Parise, chairperson of the faculty.

The Faculty Council, among other campus groups, has been holding workshops to discuss Silent Sam. In October, the council passed a resolution that requested the removal of the statue, which was delivered to Chancellor Folt. 

At this meeting, it was announced that the Board of Governors had allowed more time for Folt and the Board of Trustees to develop their plan on Silent Sam

“We asked for an extension, and we were granted an extension — I don’t know the exact date yet — to early December for us to put forward the proposal together with the Board of Trustees,” Folt said. “So, we’re very grateful for that.”

Folt emphasized that she and her colleagues have been spending time reading the feedback material from the Carolina community, particularly from students.

“I hope that means something in the sense that I want people to realize we really have appreciated the feedback that we get,” Folt said. “Sometimes when we read our essays from students and they tell you things that really matter to them, that gets right to you. I feel like people gave us that same openness of heart when they shared that material.”

After Folt’s remarks, professor Andrew Perrin presented on revisions to undergraduate general education curriculum to make it more meaningful. The revisions focus on the first-year experience.

"A driving understanding of what we’re trying to help students become, as a result particularly of their general education, are people who are capable of using this model of identifying big problems, discovering things in the world about them, evaluating and coming to good judgments about them and then acting in the world upon them,” Perrin said.

The curriculum components, which include First-Year Launch courses and Ideas, Information, and Inquiry courses, are being piloted next semester.

The “III” courses are interdisciplinary classes taught by teams of three teachers.

“It’s bold. It’s bringing together three faculty to approach a problem, a grand challenge, from different perspectives,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “What I love about it is that at Carolina we talk about students being able to come in and explore during that first year. Those 240 to 250 students in that class will perhaps see opportunities that they would have never thought about before.”

Professor Marsha Penner of the Educational Policy Committee brought junior Emma Caponigro and sophomore Raleigh Cury, co-directors of the Undergraduate Student Mental Health Task Force, to present during the meeting. They proposed an idea to incorporate Counseling and Psychological Services and Accessibility Resources and Service statements in course syllabuses.

“We think this is important to have on syllabi because having professors talk about mental health on the first day of classes, which is generally when they go over syllabi is really important because stigma is the number one reason students do not seek out help,” Cury said. “And we think in general, this promotes a campus climate that is more accepting of mental health.”

In the process of developing their idea, Caponigro and Cury received input from the Carolina community.

“In doing this, we reached out to many students, and we got an overwhelming amount of support, especially from first-generation students and international students who let us know that they could really benefit from having resources like these better talked about and promoted,” Caponigro said.

They also received support from 10 undergraduate departments, the UNC School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health and Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Though their presentation was informational, Caponigro and Cury received comments of support from faculty council members for the Educational Policy Committee to bring it forward as a proposal in the future. 

The next meeting of the Faculty Council, along with the General Faculty, will be held on Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. in Kerr Hall.


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