The Undergraduate Senate unanimously voted to pass a concurrent resolution during its full meeting June 24 to support the renaming of UNC campus buildings.
The vote follows the Board of Trustees' move last week to lift the 16-year moratorium that prohibited renaming buildings, monuments, memorials and landscapes on UNC's campus.
Collyn Smith, JGC member-at-large, introduced the bill and emphasized that students “have to remind the administration who is calling the shots here.”
The resolution includes a statement that will be sent to 11 prominent figures in state government and the UNC System including Gov. Roy Cooper, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Speaker of the N.C. House Tim Moore. The resolution urges UNC’s Board of Trustees to take action in renaming buildings with racist ties.
In addition, the bill requests that the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward, along with the student Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity, be included in the renaming process.
“By partnering with the student commission, they’ll have access to over 17 students representing our key largest marginalized communities on campus that will allow for a very conducive conversation earlier on in the process,” Finance and Ethics Vice-Chairperson Lamar Richards said.
Speaker Pro Tempore Maya Logan said this bill would place pressure on the Board of Trustees to take more action beyond lifting the moratorium.
“I don’t want the administration at the point where they lift the moratorium but they’re not going to follow through,” Logan said. “I feel that as senators, this will give us the opportunity not only to show that we are putting forth the demand, but we are urging them to not just let this go silent.”
The senate bill states that the names on these buildings remind Black students that UNC is “creating an avenue through which white supremacy is allowed to maintain racist power structures and continuously relegate the concerns and wellbeing of Black students to the lowest priority level.”
“I feel as a senate we just — historically, and traditionally in the past, not enough has been done to be advocates for marginalized communities on campus, and especially Black students," Smith said. "And at this point, this resolution is neither a wish or simple ask for change; this is now a demand.”
During Wednesday's meeting, the Senate also unanimously voted to require racial bias training in addition to other informative sessions for Senate members. The resolution aims to ensure the Senate is a safe and respectful organization of leaders.
“The first step in changing the world is changing yourself,” Speaker of the Senate Keshav Javvadi said. “I think this is a good first to improving ourselves personally and professionally.”
Ethics Chairperson Drew Benzaia said the Senate had recently discussed and passed many resolutions to create lasting change on UNC’s campus.
“I think the most basic change we can take is try to inform ourselves and really start from the bottom up,” Benzaia said
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