President Hans Responds to Alumni Letter

The following are excerpts of a letter UNC System President Peter Hans ’91 sent to a group of alumni who sent a letter to the Board of Governors expressing concern about the change in the system’s diversity, equity and inclusion policy. 

“The revised Board of Governors’ policy does not call for the wholesale dismantling of campus diversity efforts, as your letter suggests. It asks chancellors to take a detailed look at the diversity and inclusion initiatives on their campuses, ensuring that those efforts do not infringe on academic freedom, equal opportunity, or institutional neutrality on the part of university administrators.

“I do not believe this will result in the wholesale abolishing of programs or personnel devoted to supporting students of different backgrounds, and UNC Chapel Hill’s leadership has already made clear that the Carolina Covenant, Project Uplift, and similar programs will continue to thrive. Targeted initiatives to welcome and support underserved students are well within the scope of the University’s mission, provided they abide by nondiscrimination statutes and do not require students, staff, or faculty to adopt a political viewpoint as a condition of participation.

“Research initiatives, faculty teaching, and student-led organizations are all explicitly protected under the revised policy, which includes some of the strongest support for academic freedom ever passed by the Board of Governors. The right of faculty and students to pursue their scholarly interests and address controversial topics is clearer and better protected today than it was under the previous policy.

“I take to heart your concern that these changes may be interpreted as a “slap in the face” to some students and alumni. I have been at pains to express — repeatedly and publicly — my deeply held belief that diversity is a source of strength for our nation, and that all students benefit from learning alongside peers of different backgrounds and beliefs. That has certainly been true to my experience as a student, a citizen, and a university leader. Those benefits require not just diverse environments, but support for open dialogue and good-faith engagement among classmates and colleagues of different backgrounds without requiring certain viewpoints. We can only benefit from diverse experiences and perspectives when people are free to speak and eager to listen.

“I believe the intent of the revised policy is to preserve that environment on our campuses, not undermine it. Much will depend on faithful and fair-minded implementation, and this is where the dedicated interest of Tar Heels like you will make a difference. Your attention and advocacy make Carolina stronger, and I’m grateful.”

— Peter Hans ’91

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