Dear UNC Community Members,
Welcome back. I hope you had a restful break. I’m following up on an email I sent to you December 5th to share my concerns about how we treat each other as fellow members of our UNC community. The Board of Trustees and I did indeed receive the petition that I mentioned to you as a heartening example of our shared commitment to ensuring that all UNC community members have the opportunity to succeed here. The petition supports the idea that every member of our university community is welcome and necessary, and we must care for one another. It specifically urges UNC to “demonstrate care and protection for the most vulnerable members of our community.”
At a special Board of Trustees meeting on December 12, our trustees took two actions in support of this. Trustees changed UNC’s policies and regulations regarding non-discrimination and equal opportunity to include gender identity and gender expression as protected classifications. The Board also passed a resolution affirming continued support for undocumented students, including support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow (ASSET) bill (Colorado Senate Bill 13-033). Details of the Board actions are available through the following links: Policies and Regulations Adding Gender Identity and Expression and Resolution Supporting DACA and ASSET.
As a university community, we share the responsibility for ensuring that every member of our community is safe and has the opportunity to succeed here. Many of you have recently expressed concerns, which I share, for our community members who feel threatened or marginalized. In light of these concerns, I would like to reiterate the following:
1. It has long been and it remains our position that all members of our UNC community are entitled to due process of law and every lawful protection prior to any action that would affect their status as members of our community. We uphold this principle through our words as well as through our actions.
2. We will continue to comply with all Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, which includes the vigilant safeguarding of our students’ personal information.
3. We will continue to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow (ASSET) bill (Colorado Senate Bill 13-033). I have joined hundreds of university presidents in signing a public statement of support for the DACA program and undocumented immigrant students. The statement is available through this link: Statement in Support of the DACA Program and Our Undocumented Immigrant Students.
4. Our ongoing commitment to being a diverse, inclusive and safe campus as well as our commitment to the fundamental values of free speech and academic freedom preclude our support for efforts to require individuals to register on the basis of protected characteristics such as religion or nationality.
I would also note that some universities that endorse these ideas or similar concepts have used the term “sanctuary campus” to describe themselves. There is not a common, agreed-upon definition for a sanctuary campus, so we have not used the term at UNC. It is our intention to protect and support the members of our university community while upholding our responsibility to follow the law, and we want to communicate this very clearly.
I remain committed to making UNC a diverse, inclusive and safe campus, to supporting the free and open exchange of ideas and information, and to upholding the values of shared governance, so every member of our university community can flourish. Public statements, formal actions and clear rules are but part of creating a healthy university community. Together, we share the responsibility for upholding the values set forth in UNC’s Mission, Vision and Values—academic integrity, excellence, teaching and learning, diversity of thought and culture, intellectual freedom and equal opportunity. This is difficult and ongoing work that requires the involvement of all of us. The campus email that Vice President for Campus Community and Climate Katrina Rodriguez sent January 12 outlines several efforts now underway to support this, and I invite you to join us in this work.