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April 13, 2023
Susan King, dean of the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism, called for revisiting diversity of thought because it was in conflict with racial equity and other diversity initiatives in a memo from Aug. 1, 2020, that was obtained by Campus Reform.
The 11-page memo, which was addressed to UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Chief of Staff Amy Hertel, outlined the school’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to achieving the goals outlined in UNC’s “ambitious diversity plan.” Some weaknesses stated in the memo were that only 36% of full-time faculty at the university “represent diverse backgrounds” and that the school did not have a sufficiently diverse student population. One of the “ongoing strategies” that the school planned to implement during the 2020 – 2021 academic year was to “revisit ‘diversity of viewpoint’ in our definition of diversity.”
“There is a fundamental conflict between efforts to promote racial equity and understandings of structural racism, and efforts to promote diversity of thought,” the memo stated. “These two things cannot sit side by side without coming into conflict.” The memo also praised UNC’s plan to hire Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist who is the lead writer for the 1619 Project.
Hannah-Jones got unanimous approval by UNC’s faculty for tenure, but her tenure was denied by the university’s Board of Trustees who instead offered her a five-year professorship. The Board later reversed their decision, but Hannah-Jones announced in July of 2021 that she had declined UNC’s offer and would instead take a position at Howard University.
Other initiatives included mandatory staff diversity training each year, requiring students to take a course “focused on the question of diversity” in order to graduate, increasing the number of minority staff members by 5% by the summer of 2022, and creating a “safe place” for “students to report difficult situations without worrying about the power differential.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WRAL.COM