UNC Community Concerns

UNC entryway gate

 


December 05, 2016

Dear UNC Community Members, 

As we bring this semester to a close, there are urgent matters that require our attention. I continue to have serious concerns that some members of our campus community are acting in thoughtless, disrespectful, aggressive, sometimes even threatening ways that are entirely inconsistent with our values as a university community. 

Our UNC statement of Mission, Vision and Values unequivocally states that we are committed to “promoting an environment in which academic integrity is valued and expected; excellence is sought and rewarded; teaching and learning flourish; diversity of thought and culture is respected; intellectual freedom is preserved; and equal opportunity is afforded.” These values are necessary preconditions for our success as a university. Without them, we will fail. 

We must demonstrate our commitment to UNC’s values through our actions as a university and as individuals. As a public university, we must ensure that all UNC community members have the opportunity to succeed here. The petition now being signed by hundreds of UNC community members is a heartening example of our shared commitment to this value. UNC remains committed to welcoming and supporting students who are undocumented, including supporting the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow (ASSET) bill (SB-13-033). I share the convictions of those who have signed the petition. 

University action is necessary but not sufficient. Statements, policies and rules alone cannot create a welcoming and inclusive campus. As members of the UNC community, we share the responsibility for ensuring that anyone who feels emboldened by recent events in our nation is quickly disabused of the notion that they can now spread their hate in our community.  

I am deeply concerned that a number of incidents which were clearly directed at individuals and intended to be aggressive have taken place on our campus in recent weeks. The students who spoke at the November 18th Board meeting described some, but by no means all of these incidents, and I am appreciative that they stepped forward. That these things are happening at UNC is an irrefutable fact, and they are not isolated incidents. Even if you do not see them, I assure you that they are happening. This behavior cannot continue on our campus, and calling it out fundamentally depends on individual action. It is not consistent with our UNC values to tell someone to go back to the country they came from. Nor is it consistent with our UNC values to use epithets based on perceived race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, immigration status, political viewpoint or any other identity. 

We are very concerned that these incidents are not consistently being reported to the university, and I encourage you to do so. When incidents go unreported, we cannot fully understand the scope of the problem. There are several ways to report.

It should not go unstated that we will continue to uphold our fundamental values of free speech and academic freedom as we go forward. As you know, we are revising our process for handling student concerns that are not addressed by the Discrimination Complaint Procedures we follow for law-based complaints. Until we establish a new agreed-upon process, any concern involving a faculty member is being forwarded to a designated individual in the dean’s office of the faculty member’s college. This individual will connect with the student and faculty member to determine how to facilitate resolution. 

We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that we as a university community live up to our values and that the experience of every member of our community reflects our commitment to these values. I encourage you to think about how we can work on this together next semester and invite you to reply to this email with any thoughts or suggestions.

Best,
Kay