Campus Y Closed Indefinitely, Students Issue Demands

The Campus Y was closed this week by University leadership, who say the closure was necessary for safety reasons and have not given a time frame for when it will reopen.

Campus Y leaders, in a May 2 Instagram post, alleged the sudden closure of the Y was “a targeted move by the UNC administration” and said “an action timed to restrict Gaza Solidarity Encampment demonstrators’ ability to use our building’s facilities for basic needs.”

Leaders of the Campus Y also said in their post, “Moreover, given the upcoming Board of Governors’ decision on DEI, the prolongment of this closure affirms our concerns over the administration’s political motives on multiple fronts.”

The Board of Governors meets May 22–23 and is expected to vote on changes to the UNC System’s diversity, equity and inclusion policy that would likely eliminate diversity positions at the system’s 17 campuses.

The Campus Y, which has been part of UNC for 165 years, is a department within UNC Student Affairs that “fosters student success through leadership development, student advisement and support, and high-impact global programming,” according to its website. The organization provides services for student groups working on community engagement and social justice and is “the leading organization for student action, addressing issues of integration, free speech, gender equality, workers’ rights, world hunger, apartheid, and armed conflict,” according to the UNC Student Affairs website. It is a registered student organization that manages more than 30 student-led committees and initiatives and is funded by private philanthropy, its own fundraising, allocations from undergraduate student senate fees and grants.

In their Wednesday statement announcing the Y had been closed, leaders said they were notified April 30 by University officials that the building would be closed “for the time being” due to “ongoing safety concerns.” Campus Y leaders said in a second notification that day, they were informed “the closure would be indefinite.”

Anant Malpani, who is listed as co-president of the Campus Y, could not be reached for comment.

University Media Relations said in a statement it closed the building because Campus Y did not properly observe its working hours, “and the doors were repeatedly propped open when the building was closed, despite multiple requests to ensure the doors were closed and locked, which posed a serious safety concern. We recognize that the closure impacts student employees and University events, and we are working directly with the affected individuals and groups. There is no timetable to reopen the building at this time.”

University officials said Campus Y and other student organizations housed within the building can continue to participate in or hold activities on campus.

WRAL reported some protesters had stored their belongings at the Y.

The Campus Y May 2 Instagram post contained a list of demands for University leadership and was signed by former Campus Y co-presidents who attended UNC as early as 2001, including Liza Potter ’02 (’04 MAT), Raymond Tu ’21, Lauren Eaves ’18 (’22 PhD) and Kipp Williams ’21.

Among the demands listed in the Instagram post are:

  • The immediate reopening of the Campus Y building, “with hours reinstated in full.”
  • Full financial reimbursement and staff compensation for all Campus Y committees affected by the sudden closure.
  • Operation relocation expenses and a salary of $23.26 per hour for work-study students at the Campus Y.
  • Access to all UNC students, using their One Card, regardless of the time of entry.
  • Student sovereignty of the Anne Queen Lounge, which is located inside the Campus Y.
  • A $20,000 annual fund to support free speech and organizing efforts, spearheaded by student activists.
  • Future policy protections against the discriminatory closure of Campus Y operations.
  • A public apology from the UNC administration for the closure of the Y “and its brutality against all students.”
  • Disclosure and divestment from the apartheid state of Israel.

Campus Y leaders said if their demands are not met, they will “call for the immediate removal of Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts and Provost Chris Clemens.”

Campus Y leaders said in their Instagram post they consider the closure of the Y a “means of intimidation and collective punishment” and it is “entwined with ongoing conversations about the unjust treatment of University students and global activists mobilizing for Gaza.”

— Laurie D. Willis ’86, Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

Share via: