Student leaders issue 'anti-racist' demands to UNC in aftermath of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ rejection of tenure offer

Students believe Nikole Hannah-Jones’ tenure rejection reveals larger issues within the university and are now issuing demands for 'anti-racist' reform.

Student body president Lamar Richards wrote that 'the marathon continues, until every systemic, racist, performative department, unit, center, etc. is overturned, overthrown, and rebuilt.'

In the aftermath of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ decision to decline tenure at UNC-Chapel Hill, student leaders hosted a press conference issuing a list of demands to the university. 

To ensure safety, student leaders within the Black Student Movement are demanding UNC implement ‘anti-racist alerts’ into the campus-wide Alert Carolina system, terminate the employment of police chief Rahsheem Holland, hire full-time black councilors who ‘specialize in racial trama,’ and increase the number of black staff members in Title IX and the women’s center.

[RELATED: Nikole Hannah-Jones turns down UNC tenure offer]

Other demands focus on equity and include a ‘metric-driven recruitment strategy for Black faculty,’ publically available equity scorecards for all departments, a memorial for James Cates (a black student stabbed and killed on campus in 1970), the restoration of the Unsung Founders memorial, and grade appeal information on syllabi.

“We come to you today united in our pain, united in our lack of trust,” said Jaci Field, UNC staff member and Carolina Black Caucus representative. “And we are feeling betrayed.”

The press conference was jointly held by The Black Student Movement, The UNC Black Caucus, and the UNC Black Graduate and Professional Association. On their Twitter page, the Black Student Movement also released a statement condemning Rahsheem Holland’s actions as police chief.

“We are trying to create a Carolina community that is safe for these students,” said Taliajah Vann, UNC Black Student Movement president, at the press conference. “Because and I’ve said this numerous times it currently is not.”

“Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz has tasked a team with building an inventory and assessment that will look at initiatives underway that Carolina can strengthen as well as new ways to address ongoing concerns,” UNC told Campus Reform. “This is an important step in bringing forward meaningful, substantive and actionable change.”

[RELATED: Sen. Warnock tells grads to guide the country out of ‘COVID-1619’]

Additionally, student body president Lamar Richards took to Twitter Thursday morning to criticize “performative actor[s]” at the university which included faculty leaders, department chairs, and centers on campus.

“The marathon continues, until every systemic, racist, performative department, unit, center, etc. is overturned, overthrown, and rebuilt,” he wrote.

UNC Hussman School of Journalism Dean Susan King echoed similar sentiments in a statement, saying that UNC needs to learn to “grow as a campus that lives by its stated values of being a diverse and welcoming place for all.”

These comments come after Nikole Hannah-Jones criticized the university for doing the “absolute minimum.”

“It is not my job to heal this university, to force the reforms necessary to ensure the Board of Trustees reflects the actual population of the school and the state, or to ensure that the university leadership lives up to the promises it made to reckon with its legacy of racism and injustice,” Hannah-Jones said in an official statement. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @katesrichardson.