The UNC Board of Governors held the first meeting of its Racial Equity Task Force Thursday, outlining the work its members will do on inequity within the system before delivering a report to Board Chairman Randy Ramsey in October.
The task force was assembled last month after board members and faculty from various schools called for the school to concentrate on long-neglected race equity issues. It was instigated by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the resulting weeks of international protest against police violence and systemic racism.
“George Floyd died a horrible, violent, and unjust death at the hands of a
white police officer,” Ramsey and UNC System Interim President Bill Roper wrote in a message to members last month. “This immoral and indefensible act cries out for justice and compels all of us fully to recognize and grapple with our country’s history of racism and oppression that has so often resulted in violence. As members of the University community, it is our obligation and responsibility to do the hard work needed to address inequities in the UNC System for the benefit of students, faculty, staff, and all North Carolinians.”
The task force, chaired by board member Darrell Allison, is composed of a diverse array of board members, students, faculty and administrators from schools across the UNC System. Among them are: David Green, a law professor at North Carolina Central University; Garrett Killian, chair of the UNC System Staff Assembly; Isaiah Green, president of the UNC Association of Student Governments and Kellie Blue, Anna Nelson and Pearl Burris Floyd of the board of governors.
At Thursday’s initial meeting the task force reviewed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey results that found the system falling below its benchmarks. The survey asked university community members how much they agree, on a five point scale, with statements like “There are clear and effective procedures for dealing with discrimination” and “Promotions are based on a person’s ability.”
Not only were the percentage of positive answers below established bench marks, but they have actually grown worse compared to answers given in 2018.
The task force also looked at racial breakdowns of the percentage of North Carolina high school students who go on to UNC system schools and how many graduate and discussed campus engagement strategies as their work proceeds. Outreach options include virtual town halls, social media, focus groups and a customized survey.
Green said he realizes some faculty are more comfortable coming forward to talk systemic racism and racial inequity than others, but he and the other members want to be open and available for any who want to speak to them.
“We want to make sure this isn’t just symbolic,” Green said of the task force. “I want to hear from the most disgruntled person the most.”