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UNC Undergraduate Senate condemns police brutality, creates equality commission

Undergraduate Senate Meeting 6/3/20

The UNC Undergraduate Senate met over Zoom on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, where they discussed the murder of George Floyd and a resolution to form a new Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity.

The UNC Undergraduate Senate passed a concurrent resolution to stand in solidarity with and support UNC's Black community and a resolution to create the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity Wednesday afternoon at a special meeting.

Senate members started the meeting by observing a minute of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others killed by police.  

"We stand with the protesters and advocates in cities across the country," the first resolution said. "We are committed to becoming active advocates for our Black students and will work to dismantle the history of systemic racism ingrained in our University."

The unanimously passed resolution was introduced to condemn police brutality, and pledged the Undergraduate Senate's commitment "to being a body that supports Black activists, Black identity groups and most importantly, all Black students on campus."

The resolution also includes a list of resources with links for students to access, including bail funds, organizations to donate to, petitions to sign and resources for students planning on protesting. 

"We as a senate stand united behind this statement and deliver an appropriate response to these hideous events," Senate Speaker Keshav Javvadi said during the meeting. 

The resolution was sent to several members of the UNC community, including Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, UNC System interim President Bill Roper, the Black Student Movement and the chairpersons of the Commission on History, Race and A Way Forward.

Introduced by senate members Maya Logan and Lamar Richards, the second resolution announced the creation of the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity

The commission will work to "expand and enhance the civic, social, educational, cultural and economic status of the African American community on campus," and partner with the Campus Safety Commission and Commission on History, Race and A Way Forward to remove symbols of racism and oppression on campus. 

"One of the things that I worried about was how can we address these things while also maintaining a well-run Senate that has to address everything wrong on campus, including racial issues," Richards said. "The way I solved that was creating a commission that will be charged with just focusing on racial issues, just focusing on anti-racism, just focusing on marginalized communities and how we can support them." 

The commission will be comprised of no more than 15 people, including two undergraduate senators, three at-large students selected as external appointees, two chairpersons of the Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Outreach committee and the Student Government Diversity and Inclusion officer. The rest of the commission will be made up of representatives from organizations representing minorities on campus, with the organizations chosen by the commission appointees. 

Logan said she was also working with senate members Drew Benzaia and Aashna Shukla to organize a vigil on June 15 for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality, and that she was working on gathering more support from Black organizations and professors on campus. 

"This is an ongoing mission," Logan said. 


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