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Chancellor, provost address tension on campus, call for peaceful dialogue about Israel-Gaza war

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South Building, which houses the Office of the Chancellor and other administrative offices, is pictured on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

In a campus-wide email sent on Thursday, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Chris Clemens condemned "corrosive" behavior at UNC related to the war in Israel and Gaza, addressing growing tension on campus.

The chancellor and provost also called on the University community to engage in peaceful dialogues about the conflict. They asked that students, faculty and staff who have different backgrounds and perspectives listen and learn from each other.

"The violence in Israel and Gaza is provoking tension locally and globally, including on our campus," the email said. "The increase in dangerous rhetoric targeting various members of our community does not help build our community together or help us better understand the complexities of the conflict in the Middle East."

They reiterated the University's commitment to institutional neutrality and the First Amendment, highlighting a tradition of lively debate on campus. 

"We have a commitment to allow both internal and external groups to express their opinions under the First Amendment, even views some find repugnant," the chancellor and provost said in the email.

However, Guskiewicz and Clemens said UNC cannot remain neutral about behaviors that threaten the campus climate or community members. 

"We all deserve to live and work on our campus safely without fear of being targeted by hateful speech," the email said. "We are disappointed by some of the messaging we have seen and heard in our classrooms, on our sidewalks and in social media posts aimed at members or groups in our community."

The statement comes after UNC community members engaged in protests on campus, in addition to sharing petitions and social media posts concerning violence in Israel and Gaza. It also comes as Chapel Hill police investigate a Muslim student who was allegedly assaulted on Franklin Street last week. 

The Daily Tar Heel reached out to UNC Media Relations for further comment. 

@l_rhodsie 

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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Lauren Rhodes

Lauren Rhodes is the 2024 university editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant editor and senior writer for the university desk. Lauren is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and political science with a minor in politics, philosophy and economics.