In the national cry for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd, a group of UNC faculty on Monday issued what it called a Roadmap for Racial Equity.
“As the oldest public university in the nation, UNC-Chapel Hill has a deeply rooted history of participation in racially discriminatory practices, including the occupation of native lands, enslavement and racial segregation, that have led to systemic and institutionalized racial privileges for some and inequities for others,” the document says. “We believe now is the time for decisive and swift action to change the culture and policies of the University.”
Borrowing the name given to UNC’s plan for the fall semester, following a semester finished remotely last spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the document calls for action within three years on a list of demands to improve the presence of people of color in the faculty, rename buildings and have a heightened level of dialogue with the University’s top leaders.
More than 1,000 faculty members had signed on by June 29. The document pointed out that its use of the term “faculty of color” includes African Americans and members of the Latinx and Asian American communities.
“I don’t personally believe we can stay on the path we’ve been on on this campus and achieve racial equity,” Kia Caldwell, a professor of African, African American and diaspora studies told a meeting of the Faculty Executive Committee, where the roadmap was unveiled.
Rumay Alexander, nursing professor and former associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, said faculty governance has a diversity committee, “but we don’t have the right people at the table.”
Among 13 points, the document calls on UNC to:
• Take decisive action to rename campus buildings in an inclusive process that centers on the voices of diverse students, faculty, staff alumni and community members;
• Establish faculty advisory groups on racial equity, community and belonging by the chancellor and provost that will meet monthly with senior leadership;
• Hold an annual Board of Trustees meeting with Black faculty, faculty of color and Indigenous faculty;
• Address the lack of diverse administrators at top levels of the University, including vice chancellors, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and department chairs;
• “Take bold and sustained steps” to diversify the faculty across the University;
• Create 30 tenure-track faculty appointments across campus, with at least 10 in the College of Arts and Sciences that focus on racial equity and social justice that will bring in new Black faculty, including as Distinguished Professors;
• Hire two faculty who focus on slavery in the U.S. South, particularly in North Carolina, within the College of Arts and Sciences;
• Create cluster hiring programs within the College of Arts and Sciences that focus on Black families and communities; health, wellness, and health equity in Black, Indigenous and other communities of color; and civil and human rights;
• Strengthen and provide “robust funding and staffing” for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the central administration;
• Launch a faculty racial climate study in 2020-21 (which the group said was put on hold several years ago); and
• Provide accessible data on the number of faculty of color and Indigenous faculty at UNC, disaggregated to show numbers of U.S.-born faculty who are Black, Puerto Rican, Mexican American, Native American and Asian American, among other historically underrepresented groups.