UNC students, faculty release list of demands for university leaders after Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy

National

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — One day after Nikole Hannah-Jones turned down a tenured teaching position at UNC-Chapel Hill for one at Howard University, students and faculty announced a list of demands for university leaders.

“Our demands of this University are designed to protect the Black Community at UNC as well as to end the systemic oppression and exploitation of our community,” said Julia Clark, Vice President of the Black Student Movement.

Members of the Carolina Black Caucus, Black Student Movement, and Black Graduate and Professional Association collectively agreed on the list of demands, which are divided into Safety and Equity categories.

SAFETY:

  • Add anti-racist alerts into the Carolina System
  • Terminate acting UNC Campus Police Chief Rahsheem Holland, who is accused of using excessive force to remove students from last week’s Board of Trustees meeting 
  • Hire full-time Black Counselors who are trained in racial trauma and increase Black staff in the campus women’s center

EQUITY:

  • Use a metric-driven recruitment strategy for Black faculty 
  • Create equity scorecards that are publicly available for each university department
  • Fund a permanent memorial for James Cates, a 22-year-old Black man who was killed on campus.
  • Restore the Unsung Heroes Memorial that is dedicated to enslaved people who helped build the university 

CBS17 stopped by the UNC Public Safety building on Wednesday to see if Holland had a response to calls for his termination, but we were told he was in a meeting. 

“Apparently he has been in this role since May, so he was in this role less than a week ago, assaulting Black students, and he assaulted our VP Julia Clark,” said Taliajah “Teddy” Vann, President of the Black Student Movement. 

Clark didn’t say whether a formal police report was filed against Holland, but UNC tells CBS 17, “Any formal complaints filed against an individual would be protected personnel information under the North Carolina Human Resources Act so we are unable to share if a complaint has been filed. It is the policy of UNC Police to investigate all allegations and complaints of misconduct against any member of the Department.”

Vann said the demands are “actionable” and that university leaders are capable of implementing several by the beginning of the semester. She plans to discuss the list with two Board of Trustees members on Thursday. 

“The university has a unique opportunity to get it right,” said Jaci Field, Director of UNC’s Eddie Smith Field House. “Tar Heels, this is our moment to create fair and lasting change. I challenge you to stop the talking, statements, and actually do something.” 

UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz  released this statement:

I am grateful for the continued advocacy of the Black Student Movement, the Carolina Black Caucus, and the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. Their voices have been vital throughout the history of Carolina.  

I have reviewed the requested actions they presented, and I am tasking my leadership team to create a Campus Climate Plan to address the concerns shared by our students, faculty, and staff. I have asked Dr. Rumay Alexander, chair of the Faculty Council’s Diversity and Community Committee, and Amy Johnson, vice chancellor for student affairs, to help lead this process until Leah Cox, Carolina’s new vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, who starts July 19, is fully oriented to our campus.  

In addition, I want to make sure UNC Police is operating as transparently as possible, and I know the department wants to maintain the community’s trust in its public safety efforts. We know there are questions and concerns about officers’ actions during the June 30 Board of Trustees meeting, and I have directed Vice Chancellor of Institutional Integrity and Risk Management George Battle to coordinate an external review of officers’ body camera footage.

UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz

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