The UNC System Racial Equity Task Force launched a series of virtual town halls for students, staff and faculty to provide feedback on racial equity at individual institutions and in the UNC System.
Feedback from the town halls, which will end Oct. 29, will be factored into the Task Force’s recommendations to the Board of Governors and UNC System Office. The Task Force will send its final report to the chairperson of the Board of Governors and the UNC System President by Dec. 16.
Timothy Ives, a UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy professor and Task Force member, said the Task Force planned the virtual town halls to provide staff, faculty and students the opportunity to share their experiences with and ideas about race and equity.
“We wanted all to know that their voices matter, and that we really needed to hear from all three groups if we were to make substantive recommendations,” Ives said.
Students, faculty and staff attended separate sessions to encourage them to speak freely, Ives said.
The town halls will add to the Task Force’s survey responses that students, faculty and staff shared in September, the UNC System Racial Equity Task Force said in an email.
Ives said in the faculty session, three areas of discussion were posed to the group. He said these were the tools the UNC System uses to assess success, the level of transparency of the tenure-track process for all faculty and the quality of recruitment and retention efforts across the entire UNC System.
In a student town hall session on Tuesday morning, students discussed their experiences with policing, micro-aggressions and mental health at their respective institutions in the UNC System.
Jo Hatcher, a student at UNC School of the Arts, said she wants her university to employ more Black faculty and faculty of color to help minority students address mental health concerns effectively.
“When I have experiences, when I have problems, when I have questions or mental health concerns, I do not see a face that I can trust or that I can go to that may actually and adequately understand what I am experiencing,” Hatcher said.
Hatcher said she wants the UNC System to take action and fund diversity and equity work.
“Even though I am excited to be here, and I am happy to be here and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this conversation, we have a lot of conversations,” Hatcher said. “I don't want to just sit around talking about how sad it is to be Black all the time or something like that, because it is not. It is beautiful. I just want the UNC System, when they say they prioritize diversity and inclusivity, that there be an action plan.”
Ives said a plan will likely be a part of the final report, but he knows the System cannot continue to implement the old methods.
“One thing is certain, at least to me, that we are planning for the long term, and with 17 very unique campuses in the System, we can’t have one simple answer that fits all,” Ives said. “With true equity, each campus will chart their own new differentiating course, with the support and resources of the entire System working together.”
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