CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to clarify the Commission's relationship to the Undergraduate Senate.
The Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity had its inaugural meeting via Zoom on Tuesday.
The Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution in June to create the commission. The commission began by going into private session and assigning leadership positions, with Lamar Richards as chairperson, Maya Logan as vice chairperson and Melissa Patrocinio as secretary.
They discussed two letters they plan to send to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and UNC’s Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward, Richards said. The commission also spoke about how they expect to contribute to the renaming and removal of symbols of racism and discrimination on campus.
They also plan to work with the Campus Safety Commission on how to handle acts of racism on and off campus, Richards said. The commission will also collaborate with the Racial Justice Alliance and Student Government.
In open session, Richards shared a presentation about the commission's purpose and objectives.
Richards said the commission aims to create and implement policies, make recommendations and hold ongoing dialogue around racial justice. It also aims to enhance "the civic, social, educational, cultural and economic status of marginalized communities on campus," Richards said.
“Our initial focus is on African American students who have long since been underrepresented in decision-making processes on campus,” he said. “We will serve as an outlet for organizations and sub-organizations who wish to receive more funding from the commission to put on events to bring forth cultural and multicultural awareness.”
Richards listed the 11 organizations represented in the committee, including the Asian American Center Campaign, the Black Student Movement and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.
The commission has several potential initiatives, including a new University diversity curriculum and a minority caucus conference.
“I don’t think we are beyond reproach when it comes to enacting some form of required curriculum, when it comes to our first-year students, or all our students,” Richards said. “Contextualizing our specific history at UNC, and how we can understand diversity and contribute to equity with that history.”
Richards outlined the commission’s strategic plan, which covers four areas: undergraduate experience, community standards, minority representation and outreach and external relations.
The commission plans to begin implementing their strategic plan in fall of 2020 and continue through spring of 2025.
Commissioner Abhishek Shankar suggested the commission offer other students who are not on the commission an opportunity to weigh in on committee goals and output, and have a voice in the construction process.
“I think we’re a representative group, but we’re not wholly representative of the Carolina campus and a lot of minority identities that I think would want to weigh in on this process,” he said. “It’s important that we offer some sort of outlet for other students to weigh in.”
Logan suggested that the commission collaborate with other universities in the area, such as Duke University, N.C. State University and N. C. Central University, a historically Black university.
“I feel like oftentimes we leave our HBCUs out, and this would be an awesome time to get their input and their voices,” she said.
Richards said the commission can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will have a website where students will be able to submit forms or documents to the commission with comments, questions or concerns they would like to address.
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