Dear Carolina Community,
The University Office for Diversity and Inclusion (UODI) would like to acknowledge the challenges our community is facing and remains dedicated to ensuring, through the use of our voices and perspectives, that our campus remains united. The challenges we are encountering affect everyone, from all backgrounds, and it will be our unity that will propel us forward and through crises that we currently face or may arise in the future.
We have been closely following the news and, sadly, across the nation, it has come to our attention that members of the Tar Heel community have experienced anti-Asian comments, expressions of racism and xenophobic animosity related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our office stands firmly in support of the incredible diversity, in its many forms, that each of you bring to campus. We denounce any anti-Asian prejudice, harassment and harm in the guise of people expressing their thoughts, fears or anxieties of COVID-19. At Carolina, we celebrate Asian/Asian Pacific American month in April by recognizing the contributions made by this vast group to enrich our campus and this country. We are looking forward to the new ways we can honor those members of our community.
One way in which UODI unites the campus is by hosting the annual THINKposium, a meeting of community members focused on a particular issue or topic, engaged speakers providing data and context, a free exchange of ideas and fuel for creative problem solving. The theme of this year’s THINKposium was “Voice.” Today, we reflect back on the words of Dr. Maria Armoudian, lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She urged us to consider “How do media and their messages influence political violence and reconciliation? How might media messages influence individual and societal potential?” She delved deeper and reminded us to consider the consequences of using our voice in positive and constructive ways given our different roles in our community — as well as in negative ways, which certainly includes the bigotry we have seen occurring. At a time of polarization, misinformation and the diminishing of traditional media, we explored possible consequences of the mainstreaming of outrage, intolerance and extremism. Our office has engaged in conversations focused on how we use our voices to contribute to the sense of belonging for, and the retention and engagement of, all stakeholders at Carolina. Each of us has perspectives that intertwine to create the fabric of Carolina’s culture. What is never acceptable is the use of one’s voice to hurt or harm any member of our community. We need to promote deeper understandings of each other as well as help protect the human rights of all citizens.
We are committed to building and sustaining a campus where each member of the community feels welcome and safe. If you have experienced or witnessed expressions of anti-Asian, Chinese American or Chinese racism or xenophobic animosity, the University has reporting options available to you. The UNC Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected-class identity. We encourage all members of the campus community who have experienced harassing or discriminatory treatment based on any protected identity to contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office for reporting options and additional resources. You may also find numerous campus resources on our website or reach out to our office, which is committed to building and sustaining an inclusive campus community. Other policies and community standards by which all community members can seek assistance include the following:
- UNC Ethics and Policy Office
- Speak Up Carolina
- University Ombudsman
- UNC Counseling & Psychological Services
- Carolina Asia Center
- UNC Writing Center’s English Language Support
- UNC Asian American Student Association
- UNC Department of Asian Studies
Below, you will find links to the voices of Asian Americans on racism and bigotry in the era of COVID-19:
- Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety
- Hollywood slams coronavirus-related racism toward Asian Americans: ‘Call it out’
- As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Xenophobia and Anti-Asian Racism
- “This is heartbreaking”: Students share experiences of anti-Asian sentiment
While we may currently be in different time zones and locations, we all remain Tar Heels and each of us deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, PhD
Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Gretchen C. Bellamy, JD, LLM
Senior Director, University Office for Diversity and Inclusion