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Sunday June 26th

University commission discusses upcoming Universities Studying Slavery conference

<p>On Monday, June 13, the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward discussed the upcoming Universities Studying Slavery consortium that UNC will be hosting in spring 2023.</p>
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On Monday, June 13, the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward discussed the upcoming Universities Studying Slavery consortium that UNC will be hosting in spring 2023.

In its meeting on Monday, the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward discussed the upcoming Universities Studying Slavery consortium that UNC will be hosting in spring 2023.

The USS, led by the University of Virginia, is a collaboration among multiple institutions to address institutional histories surrounding racism and slavery.

What’s new?

  • Kirt von Daacke and Ashley Schmidt from the University of Virginia led the conversation and offered advice to the commission as it begins to plan for the conference.
  • Von Daacke is the co-chairperson of the President's Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation at UVA, while Schmidt is the Academic Program Officer for the commission.
  • James Leloudis, co-chairperson of UNC's commission, said they will be looking to decide the theme quickly in order to send out a call for participants by the beginning of the fall semester.
    • “We’ll want pretty soon to identify a broad theme, an interdisciplinary theme, a theme that recognizes that this work is not just contained within the academy, but it involves a whole host of community partners and stakeholders," Leloudis said.
    • Leloudis said the conference will likely be during the week of spring break so that there will be a sufficient amount of meeting space on central campus for conference events. 
    • "I think it's really exciting to think about ways that we'll be able to work together to include the local community as a really vital and central part of what we're going to be doing," Leloudis said. 
  • Von Daacke said the conference will be an opportunity to highlight the University's institutional and community history.
    • “It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in a bow," von Daacke said. "This can be ‘Here’s our history, here are these important sites, here are the challenges.’ Some of this can include the recent and often uncomfortable events."
    • Von Daacke said the commission should look to tell the University's story in creative ways and keep in mind that it isn't a conference just for scholars.
    • "Work to create panels that break down the wall between community and the University," von Daacke said.
    • Von Daacke added that a student panel, student poster presentations and student-led tours would all be good opportunities to get undergraduate students involved.
    • "You're an educational institution. This is a perfect opportunity to highlight and model that with students," von Daacke said.
    • Schmidt said the conference can't always be about the University, and those community partners should be put in leadership roles on the planning committee.
  • Schmidt said it's important for the commission to remember it should be allowing the Chapel Hill community to lead the commission.
    • “We try not to go to the community with already a perceived idea of what basically we’re either going to offer or we're going to let them do," Schmidt said. "We try to bring community stakeholders into the process very early and try to fulfill as many of their requests, because at least the people who we deal with on a daily basis, it’s their history.”
    • Schmidt said because it's the community members' history, they should be the ones telling it and deciding what should be showcased.
  • Patricia Parker, co-chairperson of the commission, said as the commission starts deciding on a theme for the conference, she hopes the conference will try to speak directly to some of the issues directly at the heart of why USS was formed, such as power. 
    • “I hope that all the stakeholders are really on one accord in terms of thinking about a way forward," Parker said. "How do we broaden the conversation, change the conversation, and have these productive outcomes for our universities, and for our commissions of our Universities and the communities."
  • Leloudis said he thought this meeting helped emphasize the goals the commission should be aiming toward.
    • "In some ways, it comes down to taking the last two words in the title of our commission seriously," Leloudis said. "What does it mean to do this in a way that actually starts to map a constructive, inclusive way forward?"

@madikirk31​

university@dailytarheel.com

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