UNC student body president and trustee Lamar Richards requested that the board schedule a special meeting to vote on the tenure application for Hannah-Jones.
‘A slap in the face’
Black faculty members, students and alumni say the controversy is just the latest example of the bias and discrimination that Black people have faced at UNC.
Dawna Jones, chair of the Carolina Black Caucus and assistant dean of students at UNC, said Black faculty members have complained for years about being overlooked for promotions, not receiving professional development, and being overworked and expected to take on added responsibilities such as serving as diversity chairs of search committees and mentoring students.
The turmoil over Hannah-Jones not receiving tenure felt like another “slap in the face” for many faculty members, Jones said.
“I think for us on campus it feels like just another trigger of the things that go on behind in the scenes in the rooms that Black leaders are in,” Jones said. “We feel as though we are being treated much differently than our (White) counterparts.”
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz released a statement saying he was concerned about the complaints from Black faculty.
“It has always been my goal to build a community where everyone truly knows they belong and are valued for their own unique perspectives and experiences,” Guskiewicz said. “I am deeply concerned that some members of the Carolina Black community do not feel they can thrive in this environment.”
Anderson-Thompkins said the board’s actions felt counterproductive to her work on diversity and inclusion initiatives at UNC as well as her advocacy for transparency in leadership. The board, she said, was not transparent in their tenure discussions for Hannah-Jones. Newly recruited, diverse faculty members have also been reaching out to her worried about the climate at the university, Anderson-Thompkins said.
“My worry is that we are not reckoning with our current decision-making and choices,” she said. “We are simply perpetuating our history but repeating many of the mistakes we have made in the past.”
Jones said there is value in having a Black woman as a full tenured faculty member at UNC because it’s rare on many college campuses. There is currently only one Black female faculty member with tenure at UNC and that is Dr. Trevy McDonald who serves as associate professor and director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at the School of Journalism and Media.
“Having a Black woman of her stature at the University of North Carolina, it’s a no-brainer for us and it’s very confusing that we’re in this situation right now,” Jones said.
Students rally for journalist
Students at UNC have also expressed frustration with how Hannah-Jones is being treated.
“As minority students on campus, it’s important that our faculty and staff help represent us,” Harrell said. “We want our voices to be heard, not just through us, but through our faculty and staff as well.”
This year she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
McDonald said she feels confident the board will grant Hannah-Jones tenure.
“It will not be a unanimous vote, but she will have the majority needed,” McDonald said.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.
Credit: Source link