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Tuesday September 28th

Campus Safety Commission to host webinar on fostering inclusivity on campus

<p>UNC students stroll through McCorkle place on North Campus on Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 2020.</p>
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UNC students stroll through McCorkle place on North Campus on Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 2020.

The Campus Safety Commission will present the “Headspace, Heartspace: Straight Talk About Navigating Race, Place and Complex Space” webinar Wednesday to discuss student resources for inclusivity.

The webinar will feature guest speaker Ty-Ron Douglas, associate athletic director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at the University of California-Berkeley. 

Frank Baumgartner, political science professor and co-chairperson of the commission, said Douglas’ expertise in discussing inclusion, welcoming and the paradox of historically white and elitist institutions will help open the discussion on battling elitism at UNC.

The goal of the commission is to address issues of inclusivity to make sure that everybody feels welcome, which is essential to making people feel safe, Baumgartner said.

“We all have to face these issues and make sure that we create an inclusive space for everybody and recognize the challenge that people are having and how that affects us differently depending on who we are,” he said. 

Counseling and Psychological Services Director Allen O’Barr said that the pandemic, coupled with racial unrest across the country, has created the need to provide a deeper sense of emotional safety and belonging within the campus community. 

He said that the goal of partnering with groups across campus to offer a wide array of resources is to help ensure everyone is supported.

“Events like the one organized by the Campus Safety Commission are just one part of an overall, layered approach the University is taking to help create an environment where all students feel included, valued and heard,” O’Barr said in an email. 

Diversifying the University and educating people on diversity, equity and inclusion have been major topics of discussion due to circumstances such as lack of representation in UNC’s resources. 

Samantha Luu, the associate director of UNC-CH Peer Support Core, said she hopes that from this webinar, people will gain the tools and skills needed to have tough conversations around race and racism on campus. 

Peer Support Core is a campus organization that promotes and facilitates peer support and mutual support, in all of its many forms for students, faculty and staff. She said that although conversations on race and racism are tough, it’s important to reflect on identity and talk with other people about their identities.

“I'm hoping that the webinar will kind of give people some of that confidence and skill to have those conversations and I think it's a good step to have those conversations,” she said. “We can't really address race and racism and the legacy of that on campus without talking about it first.”

The significance of this webinar can be reflected in the roles of students and faculty, said Kim Strom, a member of the commission and director of UNC's Office of Ethics and Policy. 

Strom said the webinar is one step in the commission's goal to continue creating a safe and welcoming space for students.

“It will be a great opportunity for us to examine race and space and people's sense of belonging this year,” she said.

This webinar will open discussions about how to talk about racism and race comfortably and create learning opportunities, Luu said. The webinar is also helpful for peer support that gets people to talk to each other and feel a sense of belonging and connection.

“We can't change these systems until we learn more about what's happening and what's going on,” she said. “Learning solutions from other places can be helpful as we try to think about how we can change our own systems.”

You can register for the webinar here.

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