'This is about more than tenure': UNC students protest in solidarity for Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Students filled the quad at UNC-Chapel Hill Friday as they stand in solidarity with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. They, like many others, believe she is more than qualified to receive tenure from her alma mater.

UNC's Black Student Movement organized the protest because of the UNC Board of Trustee's decision to not give tenure to Hannah-Jones.

"Nikole Hannah-Jones would being an amazing slew of talent, academia and racial reckoning to our campus," said UNC junior Julia Clark and vice president of the Black Student Movement. "So really, if our administrators were as committed to racial reckoning as they claim, wouldn't they fight extra hard to have her on campus? Students of color need her mentorship."

On Friday afternoon, public outcries were heard from several hundred student demonstrators.

"It's a pattern of disrespect we've seen from this university where Black women -- specifically -- and Black faculty are disregarded despite their outstanding credentials, " Clark said.

Student Body President Lamar Richards spoke before the crowd a week after penning an emotional open letter to the Carolina community.

"It is not about tenure. It's about respect or lack thereof. I was Nikole Hannah-Jones, I wouldn't come here, tenure or not," Richards said. "I say that because I'm looking at two of my mentors now and how disrespected they are. They mentor me and other black students because if they don't, who else will?

The student group issued 13 demands to the university Wednesday during a meeting with UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, including addressing Hannah-Jones' tenure, evaluating the over-policing of Black students, and improving the unsung heroes statue honoring enslaved Black people who built the university.

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"I am going to fight for Black UNC for as hard as I can, for as long as I can," UNC Black Student Movement President Taliajah Vann said.

NC Policy Watch reports Hannah-Jones will not start her role as Knight Chair as planned Thursday without a resolution to her tenure application.

Hannah-Jones originally agreed to terms that did not include immediate tenure, but instead included an option for tenure review.
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