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UNC Board of Governors' Racial Equity Task Force outlines work ahead at first meeting

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UNC Board of Governors Racial Equity Task Force chair Darrel Allison speaks at the virtual meeting on Thursday, July 9, 2020.

The UNC Board of Governors Racial Equity Task Force met for the first time Thursday to outline the group's mission and the work it plans to do over the next several months. 

The task force was created last month when now-task force members David Green of the UNC System Faculty Assembly, Garrett Killian of the UNC System Staff Assembly and Isaiah Green of the UNC Association of Student Governments sent a letter to the Board of Governors Chairperson Randy Ramsey on June 8 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The letter requested the creation of the task force, which Ramsey approved the next day. 

The group is made up of several board members, including the task force chairperson Darrell Allison, Kellie Blue, Anna Nelson and Pearl Burris-Floyd, UNC Chief of Police David Perry and other members of the UNC System. 

"As leaders of the university community, it is our obligation to do the work needed to address inequities in the UNC System for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff and all North Carolinians," Ramsey said at the start of the meeting. "This work is vital to our students' success, and to promote excellence and diversity in our institutions." 

Allison said the task force will focus on three key areas to define its work: equity in student recruitment, enrollment and success outcomes; recruiting and retaining "diverse and equity minded practitioners and leaders;" and creating safe and inclusive campuses. 

The task force will spend the month of July defining its responsibilities, and then in August and September the group will hold conversations on different UNC System campuses and give a statewide survey, before delivering a list of recommendations to Ramsey and the BOG in October. 

The task force spent most of Thursday's meeting listening to two presentations, the first of which presented information from a 2019 report on North Carolina's "leaky" educational pipeline. 

The second presentation focused on the UNC System employee engagement survey and compared responses from 2020 and 2018 to several statements and how much survey takers agreed or disagreed with them. 

The statements included: "This institution places sufficient emphasis on having diverse faculty, administration and staff," "Promotions in my department are based on a person's ability" and "This institution's policies and practices ensure fair treatment for faculty, administration and staff." 

Broken down into demographics, the survey showed that transgender and nonbinary UNC employees had far fewer positive responses to the three statements listed above than cisgender employees. Black employees were the least likely of the racial demographics surveyed to agree that promotions are based upon a person's ability. 

The task force finished by discussing possibilities for campus engagement, including town hall meetings with live feedback via Zoom, email, social media, surveys and in-person meetings. 

"If you're only talking to students engaged in this work, you're talking to the wrong group of students," Green said. "You need to talk to the students who are transferring or dropping out and listen to their needs. We need to listen to the students who have never been listened to before, which is often not the students in student government." 


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