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Heel Talk episode 10: UNC leaders discuss racial equity plans for the 2020-21 school year

Graphic of Heel Talk podcast

The 10th episode of Heel Talk went live Monday morning. 

In light of the movement across the United States for racial equity and against police brutality toward Black Americans, University and UNC student leaders are seeking ways to continue the national conversation and progress made once school starts in the fall.

To understand what impact the movement will have on the upcoming semester, host Evely Forte spoke to incoming senior class president Chris Suggs; incoming Black Student Movement president Tamiya Troy; Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach committee chairpersons Chaz Crosby and Maya Logan; and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Sibby Anderson-Thompkins.

This episode was co-edited and co-produced by Evely Forte and Meredith Radford. Reporting by Evely Forte. 

The transcript of Monday’s episode is available below: 

Tamiya Troy: Trayvon Martin was probably the first instance that I can really pinpoint. He was around our age and was killed. And, I think, from that we weren’t really old enough to do much about it. So now experiencing George Floyd and it being something where, not only are we in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re constantly fighting for our lives, this was an instance where many people our ages could say, “OK, like, enough is enough. Like, you know, what can we do about it?”

Evely Forte: I’m Evely Forte from The Daily Tar Heel and this is Heel Talk.

Hey everyone, welcome back to Heel Talk. 

With the fall semester rapidly approaching, the University and UNC student leaders are being confronted with the call for racial justice across the country following the death of George Floyd. 

I spoke to two groups of UNC student leaders and the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion to better understand how the national movement regarding racial equity is going to impact programming, events and logistics on campus as well as what support for the movement and for students will look like. 

First, I was joined by former Black Student Movement president and incoming senior class president Chris Suggs and incoming Black Student Movement president Tamiya Troy. 

EF: So welcome to the show Chris and Tamiya! Happy to have you both here. 

CS: Thank you, thank you for having us.

TT: Thank you. We really appreciate you reaching out to us to be a part of this.

EF: First, I would love to get your thoughts on the national movement regarding racial equity and police brutality toward Black people in the United States. Chris, Tamiya, how do you feel about the progress the movement has made so far? 

CS: For me I believe this movement is, you know, I can’t say it’s just getting started, for one, this has been something that so many organizers and activists across the country, even in our own communities, in our own state, have been fighting for, for decades. But, what I can say is that I believe we’re really waking up the masses in this country. I believe that the tragic killing of George Floyd really caused a lot of people to pay more attention to this issue and really mobilize people in our communities. And, that’s what you’re seeing across this country, is that people are really getting mobilized, and change may finally come because of the activism and the passion that you’re seeing in the streets.

TT: Yeah, I definitely agree. I think that for me personally, Trayvon Martin was probably the first instance that I can really pinpoint. He was around our age and was killed. And, I think, from that we weren’t really old enough to do much about it. So now experiencing George Floyd and it being something where, not only are we in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re constantly fighting for our lives, this was an instance where many people our ages could say “OK, like, enough is enough. Like, you know, what can we do about it.” 

So, I think that’s why now so many people are really, like, pushing forward. I’m hoping that this will, unfortunately, I mean I hate for it to be during now, but to be the next civil rights movement. It’s something that we need to have happen, exactly in this moment, while we’re also, again, like, fighting for our lives against a virus. It’s not fair to us and it’s also something we just shouldn’t have to worry about right now.

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EF: And Tamiya, are there any ways that the Black Student Movement plans to continue the national conversation regarding racial equity once school starts up again in the fall?

TT: Yes, so right now we’re taking everything one day at a time because we really don’t know how coronavirus is going to change our plans. But, this is not something new to the Black Student Movement. We’ve constantly, years and years ago, we’ve been having these conversations and one, holding the administration accountable, so that’s something we will continue doing. We’re not afraid to say, “this is not what’s happening, Black students are not being heard.” So we’ll continue doing that, putting pressure on the administration to really enact change, especially when they say that these are things they’re going to do. We want to, really want to make sure that they know we’re here, we’re here to stay, and we’re going to make sure that you hear us.

Along with that, protests and organizing events and things of that nature, is something that we will continue doing, it’s something that’s necessary, especially considering the uprising nationally. It’s something that we have to back, it’s something that we have to make sure our community is doing as well, if it’s going to be something that we’re fighting for. So, I would say that, considering coronavirus in the fall, we’ll be sure to continue the things that we’ve been doing. And, just making sure that we’re doing so and keeping our energy up, keeping the momentum going.

EF: And Chris, you’ll be leading the seniors as their class president this upcoming year. How are you planning on using that role to contribute to progress and change on campus?

CS: Yeah, I would say, you know, the role of the senior class president, with some exceptions, has largely been a ceremonial role. You know, you’re there for University Day, you’re there to take pictures with campus leaders and give a speech at graduation. But, I believe when the seniors elected me as their class president, they knew I’m not necessarily a ceremonial person. They know me from my work with the Black Student Movement or my work advocating around different issues on campus, or across the state, or in my hometown. 

So, you know, that’s what I plan to do in this role. I plan to use it as a role to really organize students around the issues we care about, making sure that the senior class and the greater student body and the Carolina community, are equipped with schools, tools and resources that we need to be productive citizens on campus and in our futures. So, I’m not planning to, you know, just sit around and take pictures and have photo-ops, but really to use this position as the senior class president, and with the platform that it gives me, to really advocate for issues that are important to students and make sure that students are well taken care of and well prepared for the next phases of our life.

EF: And, you know, something I’ve heard a lot recently is this idea of allyship and how non-Black people can be an ally for Black Americans. How do you think non-Black students should participate in on-campus activism? 

TT: Yeah so, I think that one thing we realize is that a lot of people don’t know what allyship is. A lot of people are coming into this just used to their privilege and not used to actually having to be at the forefront of any of these issues. So, the first thing is just acknowledgement. Understand what we’ve been going through and understand that this is not something that’s new for us. So, however you come into this space, you really need to have the knowledge and education about this. And, it’s not something that we’re willing to just educate you on. It’s research out there, so you shouldn’t expect Black students to just tell you what to do and how to do it. Take it upon yourself to educate yourself about the issue.

And, I think that, as far as on campus, a lot of our events and things that are surrounding racial equity, most of the time non-Black students do not attend. So, its one, like, becoming more involved in the Black Student Movement and Black Congress, these organizations who have focused on activism, you shouldn’t push them to the burner just because, you know, this one moment you, I guess, post a black screen and say, “Yeah, we support on-campus events,” and things like that, but you really don’t.

So, one, show up and use your voice. Along with that, it becomes one of these things where you have to recognize that Black students need you at the forefront because our lives are at stake every day. So, when you’re at these protests, even if you’re not, using your privilege and speaking up, standing in front of Black people when they’re at these protests in front of police, because they’re less likely to harm you if you’re in front of them, so. I think it’s just recognizing your privilege and understanding that this is not only a movement for us. We can’t do it by ourselves. We’ve tried and we’ve tried, and like, now it’s time for everybody to mobilize around this issue. 

CS: Yeah, I completely second that. And, something I also share with people, in terms of allyship, is that I don’t need white people coming to me and telling me how much they hate racism. I need them going to their fraternities and sororities and with their family members and their predominantly white organizations and clubs, and talk about racism and what it means to be an anti-racist in those circles. Coming and supporting the Black Student Movement, we need you to show up at our events and show up and support and amplify our efforts, but also take what you learn and take these conversations back home to your families, back to your social circles and your fraternities and sororities, so that you’re pushing your family members and your friends and people who may not necessarily already be in the fight for anti-racism or for social justice, to be more involved in that fight. So, I think that is one of the greatest aspects of allyship, and true allyship is not just being alongside us, but taking what you learn from Black organizers and Black student leaders back into your communities and doing your part to help the fight for justice. 

EF: And finally, what areas of the University and student life do you think are in need of most change to achieve racial justice on campus?

CS: Yeah, you know, there’s quite a few areas I believe that the University could do a little better in, when it comes to promoting racial justice on our campus. One of those areas that stands out a lot to me because of some of my work on campus is in the area of admission and retention of Black students, particularly Black males like myself. We’re often one of the smallest demographics of students at Carolina, and we have so much to contribute to this student body and this campus community, way outside of athletics. So, I believe, you know, making sure that Black male students are admitted and retained at this University is one area. And additionally, in addition to that, excuse me, making sure that student voices are represented when it comes to the major decisions that are affecting our campus community. Making sure that the chancellor and administration are reaching out to Black students and student leaders of all backgrounds, to make sure that our voices are reflected in the future of this University. Because, you know, students aren’t here just as consumers of education, but we’re here as stakeholders in this campus community and we should be treated as such. So, ensuring that student voices are, you know, represented at all levels of University governance, I believe is an important step in the right direction. You’ll see so many views of students come into plays, when it comes to moving our campus a little more towards justice. 

TT: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think also, along with Black male retention and Black student retention, you can’t just bring us here, and have us here. You need to actually have things in place where you will support us, take care of us, and value our opinions. So, it’s not enough to just admit a bunch of Black students at this University anymore, like, that’s kind of what’s happening, that’s why Black people are choosing to go other places, because they see that they’re not valued at this institution. So, I think that, if you’re going to do that, you need to make sure that you’re ready to put in the work to keep us here and also, again, when it comes to listening to our voices and things, it’s not enough to just have a seat at the table, you need to listen to the things that we’re saying. Don’t ask for our feedback if you’re not going to utilize it. So, I think, while we’re at these tables and while we’re here in these conversations, it’s way more important for you to actually listen to us and enact the change that we want to see rather than just bringing us in the room and say, “Hey, you’re here.” You know, that’s just not fair to us. So, I think we’re doing the work on our end, so it’s really just making sure that the University and the administration is willing to do the work on their end as well.

EF: Well, thank you so much both for sharing your thoughts on these issues and on this broader conversation. I really appreciate your time and your perspectives on these issues. 

CS: Yes, thank you so much for having us, Evely. 

TT: Thank you.

EF: I also had a chance to speak to Chaz Crosby and Maya Logan, co-chairpersons of the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach committee, on the executive branch of student government, to get a better sense as to what resources and programming student government plans to provide its constituents. 

EF: Hi Maya and Chaz. So happy to have you both with me here today. 

Chaz Crosby: Thank you so much for having us, we’re super excited to be here.

Maya Logan: Thank you so much, Evely, for having us.

EF: So, let's get started. It seems like education is an important part of the Black Lives Matter movement, in light of George Floyd’s death. And by that I mean, educating non-Black people about implicit biases, assumptions and perceptions they may have that contribute to systemic racism. Is this something that your committee is planning on addressing at all?

CC: It’s super important to use your platform intentionally and accurately, because non-Black voices can travel further because we often do not have seats at the table as minorities. So, it’s so important to do that, because your voices can be heard and be spread much further than ours can. And, it’s important to check your privilege. White privilege is a thing, and it’s a very uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s important to get the conversation rolling because if you do not know that you have privilege, then it kind of becomes hard to grow and learn from these conversations. And, it’s OK to be uncomfortable; it’s a learning experience, it’s a learning curve for everyone. 

It’s extremely, extremely important to just sit back and listen to your Black peers. We are hurting, we are tired, this is something we’ve had to endure our entire lives. Just listen and get feedback, learn experiences, because you, for non-Black people, you have never experienced the life of a Black person.

It’s very important to educate yourself, and once you educate yourself you can start spreading what you’ve learned to your peers, to your family members, who might be more ignorant on the topics, might not be more willing to listen. So, it’s important to branch out in your communities and in your circles, to educate the people that you hang around. And take the pressure off of some of your Black peers, we’re already so tired already. So, just take the time to educate yourself, don’t lean on your, you know, one Black friend to do all of the educating for you. Go out, read books, watch movies, watch documentaries, attend history lectures, do whatever you have to do, to do that. 

So, as UNC, we are all one community, so we all need to be on the same page. So, this is why it’s so important for MADO to promote this, this upcoming school year. This is a human rights issue, this is not, this goes beyond politics, this is a basic human rights issue, so everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s not up for negotiations, not up for debate, it’s a human rights issue. 

It’s so important to be anti-racist, and not just non-racist, because non-racist makes you complacent for injustice. When you’re complacent for injustice that means you are not going out in your communities and changing and fighting the battle. You’re just saying, “I’m OK with all people.” But anti-racist is going out and making a change, and making a difference. And, changing the status quo, changing your social norms, getting out of your comfort zone. Understand your history. This is not just an isolated situation. This is a product of institutionalized and systemic racism.

MADO is going about trying to design a How To Be An Ally workshop for this school year. We are still looking into details for that, but we thought it was extremely important to do that in this PWI environment. So, it will be open to all students, all faculty, just to learn tools that can help them further fight this battle with us. And another thing that we are continuing to do is an implicit bias and racial equity training. We did it last year, we are going to continue to do it this year, and that’s also open to the community and it’s extremely important because administrators, teachers, students can come in. And, that training within itself helps to eradicate biases that we all have, and it can help promote a more inclusive and welcoming and open-minded environment for all people. Maya, would you have anything else to add?

ML: I’d just like to emphasize the importance that this is a human rights issue, you know, just living through a pandemic right now, we’re also seeing injustice towards the Black community with health-related issues. Personally, I am a health advocate, and I’m a person that goes beyond in the community for health purposes, and I’m just seeing where, you know, where Black people who are out protesting, I participated in numerous protests last week, and we are even marginalized when it comes to wearing masks, you know. In the crowd I saw more African Americans not wearing masks than the white people that were there. So, we are lacking resources to our community. So, it’s very important that we talk about these issues in regards to police brutality and the pandemic and all the institutionalized racism Black people are facing, because this goes beyond, like how we said, just something that’s currently happening. This is a human rights issue. This has been something that’s been dated back over 400 years, 500 years, 600 years. This is something that, in our community, we need to start addressing and continue to address. 

EF: So, I’d like to now get your thoughts on the interactions between UNC police officers and students on campus. In what ways does the University police department perpetuate issues of police brutality felt by Black Americans on campus, if you believe they do?

ML: Thank you so much, Evely, for that question. Just being able to talk about the UNC police officers is something very important that we need to address, prior to coming back to campus due to the heightened intention and just the fears all Black students are feeling right now. So, one, issues that they do perpetuate is that they do not realize their power and their status and how that can invoke fear in students of color, especially Black students during this troubling time. You know, this is a time where police officers need to not only be receptive, but be active. We can talk, we can discuss issues of racism and issues of police brutality, but what will be the next action step when something like this happens on our campus. That is my biggest concern, because we do not want an incident where we lose a student to police brutality on campus, because that will just perpetuate even more racist biases on campus. So, with that being said, police officers on campus and within the greater Chapel Hill community need to be open to criticism. If the student body feels an issue needs to be addressed about the department, be open and actually listen, and be receptive. These issues cannot come forth without conversation and without discussion. So, it's very important that if students, such as, you know, Black-identifying groups or marginalized communities, reach out to them to host a town hall, or to talk with them, it is very important that they not only come up, but come up in numbers. Just don't send the chief of police, send all the policemen that you can, because it's about everyone that is working from the bottom up, right? So, you know, of course the chief police officer will be receptive, but will your, will the actual officers that are going out to make the arrests be receptive and understanding to the fears that Black people face and students of color face on campus?

So, going along with being open to criticism, we believe, as MADO co-chairs as well, more extensive training and implicit bias and racial training needs to be applicable for UNC police officers and the greater Chapel Hill community. Being aware of, you know, just how to address these issues in a better format is a thing that we are all advocating for. And, I even feel personally in my hometown what they're working towards is having a sense of when is enough when, when you're arresting someone, when is the force enough? You do not want the force to be the point where you're losing a life, right? If the force is too great and you're losing a life, then you're not doing your job. So that is something that, you know, UNC police officers also need to be aware of, their force and the mentality they bring, once we see them. You know, once we see a cop car pull up, we're already in fear. You know, we're in fear as to what will happen next. Why are they pulling us over? The UNC police office also need to interact with students and hear their voices and concern. You know, not only for students to hold town halls for them, but why can't they hold town halls for us? Why can't they initiate the conversation? That's my biggest concern. 

Students are trying to initiate the conversation; however, it also needs to be a two-way communication. If we have a town hall, in return, they should have a town hall. You know, they can have a town hall with other Chapel Hill police officers, Raleigh and Durham police officers to get this conversation started in our area about police brutality, because students travel outside Chapel Hill. You know, we have students that travel to Durham, Raleigh that go and visit Duke and N.C. State and North Carolina Central. So, we have to be aware that not only is this something that is apparent on our campuses, but we also need to start addressing outside of the Chapel Hill community where students do travel, they live, they work. So, it'll be great if we could see that the police could interact with students more, and this helps to build a foundation for, and towards a positive relationship. Right now, it's hard to say where the relationship lies with police right now, due to just the time period we’re in. But, if we set the foundational work, if we are working today, hopefully within the next 10 to 15 years we will start seeing some change in some form. You know, I don't think this is going to be an issue that will change overnight, I do not, because we saw the same things with Trayvon Martin and with Sandra Bland. You know, this is like how we said, this dates back. And, you know, going back until Emmett Till. You know, we are still seeing replicas of the same thing, and things still have not changed. So, I'm hoping that as Gen Z, and as students that are fighting for change, we’re in the streets, were battling for this, that police officers, our officials, will be receptive of the work that we are trying to do and that this will lay the foundational work of the future. And, lastly, I would just like to add, as well, have an open dialogue, initiate comfortable spaces for students of color, Black students especially, to communicate with police officers. You know, what goes through their mind when they are arresting or you know charging or pulling someone over that is Black? You know, we want to hear what they're thinking, because too often times, we don't know what they're thinking, and that's where the issue comes. We don't know what they're thinking and we don't know how to react. 

Last year, we initiated a forum with Chief Perry. And, I believe this year we are going to try to amplify that and have more police officers present, and not just the chief. Because, like I said, it starts from the bottom up, and it's how we're working with all officers. And, I would just like to add, it's very important that we also put the same responsibility on our officials and leaders in the Chapel Hill area. You know, if an injustice incident does occur, it is now up to our officials to charge accordingly and to make sure they are receptive, in each and every way, of the student and of the student's family. 

CC: Yeah, and just a couple of things to add to that, that was a great response Maya. It’s so important that police make it imperative that they are open to feedback from their students. In order to promote a better relationship with minority and Black students, it’s important that if students bring up issues and concerns, that they do not push back, but they just sit back and listen, like I was saying earlier.

They must listen, they must make reform, because there's corruption. They cannot deny that there’s corruption. I know it might be hard to find errors within your own staff, within your own workforce. It’s an uncomfortable situation to address. However, it's important that they just sit back and listen. Interact with the students, be out in the community, get to know us, ‘cause honestly, I don't even know them. It’s so important to get out to your community. Hold more forums, listen to your students, get feedback forms, do whatever you need to do to be in the community to have these dialogues, to build these relationships so students of color don't feel like they're at fear all the time when police are around. If we had these relationships and we built these foundations, maybe we can start building a more positive experience with the police.

EF: Does your committee have any racial equity goals it would like to work toward achieving this year?

CC: As MADO, our goal is to promote an inclusive environment for all students and to help amplify the voices of minority students on campus. And, one initiative that we're going to continue — we did it two years ago — is the Black Male Leadership Summit. It is a summit that promotes enrollment and retention rates for African American males. African American male enrollment rates at UNC are around 3 percent, and that’s just not acceptable. And, it's been very, very stagnant for the past 10, 12 years. So, this event helps to promote networking, help building up the Black male identity and basically, talking about shared experiences that Black males have had. It’s from alumni to current students to Black males in the community who are interested in coming. It’s a great experience to be in a room and being a setting where all people share the same circumstances, saying the same life experiences and they can talk, network, learn about each other, learn how they can build, learn how they can navigate this such complex racially divided world, that's out to get them. So, we're going to continue that event and we're super excited to do that. 

ML: In addition to the Black Male Leadership Summit, MADO is currently working on our initiative called the Black Leaders Roundtable, this will be a concurrent event, in which it will be a meeting between campus leaders that are of color and especially from the Black-identifying organizations. We're looking to have approximately 10 to 15 leaders from each of these organizations serve as a Roundtable member, in which we will meet quarterly and talk about events that are currently going on campus and how we can best support their organization and their mission. We have numerous multicultural organizations. However, I feel like we, as a student government, we sometimes do not hear their voices, and we just have so many moving parts in student government, which it gives us a little time to hear their voices. 

We also feel like that this would be a great opportunity to isolate the group of Black student leaders, so that we can have more time and more focus on their initiatives, so that we can learn what their groups are doing and how we best can support and provide resources. So, as we prepare to work on the Black Leaders Roundtable, we are always open to suggestions. So, we are also looking for Black organizations to give us suggestions on what they would like to see. So, in the coming weeks will be sending out a form in regards to the Black Leaders Roundtable to, kind of, just get a feel of what Black-identifying organizations are in need of and what this needs to look like. Because, in our development of this, we want to make sure we are developing this for a purpose of serving them, rather than just having a meeting of, you know, just not having action items after the meeting. We want to make sure we leave every meeting with something that we can action, we can have action-based measures on. 

We're also working with other executive committees to put forth a Racial Task Force. In addition to the Racial Task Force and the Black Leaders Roundtable, as a senator and serving as the speaker pro tempore of the undergraduate senate, we are currently also work in conjunction with senate to help with their efforts of the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity. And, this will be able to serve student organizations and marginalized communities that are seeking resources and that this commission will be able to serve as a central response hub for minority related issues and to work in tandem with other governing bodies and organizations on campus. So, we are excited to be able to serve in this capacity as MADO co-chairs, and we look forward to really seeing all of our initiatives come off the ground and elevate our campus as these initiatives are for the Black community and we want to see a positive response. And, even if we do receive negative responses, how can we improve? That's our biggest thing, in this space, we want to know how can we improve and make sure all measures are accurately reflecting the community in which we serve.

EF: Well thank you both so much for your time today in speaking to me and for sharing your perspective on these issues and on these goals that you’re hoping to work on this next year.

CC: Thank you so much for having us, this has been a pleasure. Thank you, thank you.

ML: Yes, thank you so much for giving us this opportunity and space that we can speak about the Black community and being able to talk about the issues in which we are personally passionate about, and why we are excited to serve as MADO co-chairs for this year.

EF: I was also curious to hear what University leaders thought of this national movement. The University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion released a statement on May 29th — just four days after the death of George Floyd —  to address anti-Black violence. The office said in the statement that it created an anonymous space for students to share their thoughts and perspectives on this national conversation. 

I reached out to the interim chief diversity officer, Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, to find out how the University plans to foster a racially equitable environment on campus. 

Thank you so much Dr. Anderson-Thompkins for taking the time to chat with me today.

Sibby Anderson-Thompkins: Thank you. This is a topic that I'm really excited to share with students and the UNC community, so I'm glad to join you.

EF: And, I want to talk about the statement that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion released on May 29th, just four days after the death of George Floyd, as you know. In that statement, it said that the office was committed to fostering an environment that values the rights, lives and dignity of university community members. In what way will the office work to implement that? 

SAT: That’s an excellent question. I think that what’s important to the University Office of Diversity and Inclusion is making sure that we not just talk about rhetoric and talk about these ideas, but actually move to action. And, I think the current climate demands action. We just charged a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council and this is something new for the campus. Over the past year, we have tried to build a whole community of chief diversity officers within academic units and also in some of our services areas. And so, I think this is a unique time in the University history, where we actually have some critical mass to do this work. And so, part of what we are trying to do is to create an infrastructure that will actually allow us to begin to build some accountability, to begin to build some structure that will help us in addressing some of the policies and practices that impact students, their access, their opportunities, their success and also the way that we regulate community standards. And so, we're very serious about looking at how do we align what we say our values are with the actual policies and practices so that if behavior is not in line with that, that we can actually do something.

EF: How do you think the University has gone wrong in the past when dealing with issues of racism on campus?

SAT:  You know, I think it's really challenging. I will certainly say that I think current leaders, as well as former leaders, have had the best of intentions. And, I think that there have been times when we have deliberated, we've researched, we've deliberated more, we've researched more and that moment passes. And, there's this, from the perspective of our stakeholders, there's been a missed opportunity. And, it just leaves people with, I mean, outraged, angry, frustrated. I think it is, in part, because we are a public institution, that we have a governing body, the Board of Trustees, that more than half of the members are appointed by the Board of Governors, which is then appointed by our state legislature. And so, I think we often have to think about the impact decisions might have on funding, budgets. And so, I understand some of the limitations that leaders face, but I think that what our stakeholders want to see is that we are advocating and standing up for what we say the values of this institution are. These are the kinds of conversations we are having now and I can say that the chancellor, the provost, senior leadership, I think that we are fully committed to taking bold actions and taking some risk. And that, ultimately, is what we have to do if we want to align our actions, our words and our actions.

EF: And finally here, what is your hope for the future experience of students of color and minority groups on campus?

SAT: Well, you know, this is a really personal endeavor for me. I, myself, am a two-time UNC graduate. When I was an undergraduate, I was president of the Black Student Movement and was one of the leaders who fought for the Black cultural center. And so, for me, I care deeply about the experience of every student, but especially Black students and underrepresented students. I want every student to feel that they belong here and that Carolina — they are Carolina. And, that their contributions matter, their lives matter and that they can walk across campus and not fear how they're going to be perceived, how they're going to be treated. That they can sit in classrooms and feel that they're being treated with dignity and respect and valued as a student. Their contributions, their knowledge, their experience is important. And, I want them to feel that even their activism, their leadership, their engagement has made a long-lasting experience. So, I want them to know that we've heard them, that it's going to help us make Carolina a better place, not just for them, but for generations to come.

EF: Those are all my questions, thank you so much for your time and for your perspective on this and the work that you plan to do come the fall.

SAT: Thank you.

EF: This week’s episode of Heel Talk was co-edited and co-produced by Meredith Radford and myself. That’s it for this week’s episode of Heel Talk. I’m Evely Forte. I’ll see you next week. 

So, if you enjoyed this week’s episode, please consider subscribing, rating and reviewing the episode, and sharing it with someone that you think would enjoy it too. I’ll see you next time.

Episode transcribed by Meredith Radford.

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Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for February 5, 2024

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